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Printer’s Error – absurd moments in book history

Printer’s Error by Rebecca Romney & JP Romney

Rare book expert Rebecca Romney, who is one of half of the team behind Honey and Wax Booksellers in Brooklyn, has co-authored a book that will bring a smile to anyone who enjoys the stories behind books, authors, publishers and all the other folks connected with the book trade.

In Printer’s Error, Romney, and co-author JP Romney, focus on the unusual, absurd and comic moments since the first Gutenberg Bible rolled off the press and mass communication began.

Rebecca Romney

The book outlines Charles Dickens’ fury at American publishers who refused to pay royalties after printing and selling his books. The Americans hadn’t really embraced copyright laws at this time. There’s a chapter dedicated to TJ Cobden-Sanderson, who threw a font, yes, a typeface, into the Thames. There are misadventures from William Blake, Benjamin Franklin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Perhaps the most interesting chapter concerns printer William Tyndale and the early days of printed bibles, which were anything but Christian in nature. The Wicked Bible’s “Thou shalt commit adultery” remains the finest printer’s error of all time. Shakespeare receives a chapter, of course, and the authors describe a 16th century “trade route arms race” involving map makers.

Rebecca began her bookselling career with Bauman Books and I encountered her for the time when she was managing Bauman’s store in Las Vegas.  She left Bauman in 2016 and worked on Printer’s Error before deciding to join forces with another ex-Bauman employee, Heather O’Donnell, to set up Honey and Wax. Rebecca, a lady of many talents, also has a podcast called Biblioclast and appears on the Pawn Stars TV show when someone lands a rare book and expert opinion is required.

Find copies of Printer’s Error.

Mark Your Calendars: Washington Antiquarian Book Fair – April 28 & 29

Immerse yourself in the world rare books and ephemera at the 42nd annual Washington Antiquarian Book Fair, taking place April 28-29 at the Sphinx Club in Washington, DC.

This year, over 60 exhibitors from all over the United States will be displaying rare books, manuscripts, modern first editions, autographs, prints, maps, drawings and other fine ephemera for visitors to see, touch and evaluate firsthand.

Exhibitors specialize in a multitude of areas: classic literature, science and medicine, geography, modern first editions, travel, sports, music, social movement, children’s and illustrated books and more!

In addition, the fair has created a 2017 Wish List that just might make bibliophiles’ dreams come true. All are encouraged to submit requests for books they would like to see at the event, as exhibitors will take the wish list into consideration when choosing their display selection.

AbeBooks vendors attending include Capitol Hill Books, Allington Antiquarian Books, White Fox Rare Books, Evening Star Books, and Jeffrey H. Marks Rare Books. A full list of exhibitors is available on the Washington Antiquarian Book Fair website.

AbeBooks is proud to sponsor this fair and highly recommends all who are in the area to attend!


A first edition of Heather Has Two Mommies is now a $3,000 book


The rare first edition of Heather Has Two Mommies

This week a copy of a 1989 children’s book was listed for sale on AbeBooks, the price was $3,000. That’s not particularly unusual. However, this copy was a first edition of a pioneering book that features a girl being brought up by same-sex parents.

Heather Has Two Mommies was written by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Diana Souza. The storyline sees Heather being raised by lesbian parents, Jane, her biological mother, and her partner Kate, and addresses same-sex parenting in a positive light.

This book was controversial in the 1990s and frequently banned. However, it paved the way for more children’s fiction about LGBT parenting.

Today, children’s books featuring same-size couples are commonplace. Goodreads offers multiple lists of books for this genre. And Tango Makes Three – the book about male penguin parents – is perhaps most notable of these titles because it is  banned so often.

The price for this particular copy of Heather Has Two Mommies – listed for sale by Nudel Books from New York – indicates that the title now has collectible status. It’s about time. One key element in a book becoming collectible is cultural impact and Heather Has Two Mommies was one of the first to depict same-sex parenting in an era when gay parenting was frequently challenged.

Although later editions are easily found, first editions of this book are extremely scarce. This the first time that a true first edition of Heather Has Two Mommies has been listed for sale on AbeBooks.

The rare cover shows ‘Mama Jane’ and ‘Mama Kate’

Amazing Things at AbeBooks

The thing about AbeBooks is, it’s amazing. And for more than just books.

You might think you know it, have a good sense of what it is all about, but there is always something new, something rare, something beautiful and amazing and even unique, just below the surface, if you type the right, magical combination of search terms. Here are some of the recent wonderful items I have found.

Graffiti jacket

Amazing Graffiti jacket signed by Jean Michel Basquiat, The King Ad-Rock and more.

An extraordinary artwork serving as a who’s who of the downtown New York City art and music scene in the 1980s. Each artist has hand-drawn on or signed parts of the jacket. Basquiat draws a crown and “s” in gold and signs Jean Michel with a crown above and further “s” in silver; Futura 2000 signs in pink along the bottom edge at the rear and draws his spraycan character to the front; Shadi (David Scilken), artist and vocalist with The Young And The Useless, contributes a large drawing to the rear titled “Death Rain” signed and dated 1984; Haring contributes a neon green Three Eyed Smiling Face sticker; Revolt draws a large character to the left shoulder and sleeve; Cey Adams draws a spraycan and signs in various places. Further contributions from Ad-Rock (Adam Horowitz of the Beastie Boys); Fab 5 Freddy; Kano (Dante Ross) who went on to be one of the most influential A&R representatives in hip hop working for Tommy Boy, Elektra and Warner; Crazy Legs (founding member and later president of The Rock Steady Crew); Zephyr; James TOP (Jee II); Stash (Josh Franklin); Delta II; RB163; Energy (NRG); Ezo; Africa 131 / Cmor; Jigs City (Julie Ashcroft) and many more.

Rice Rat

Watercolour painting of a Rice Rat

The West Indies were once home to five species of giant rice-rats, all of which are now extinct. Three kinds survived into historical times, but only two of these are known from museum skins. About the size of a cat, the Martinique giant rice-rat was the largest of all. It was also the most abundant of the trio and the last to succumb. It was recorded as being common on Martinique until towards the end of the nineteenth century, and was found in large numbers in coconut plantations, where it was considered to be a pest. It was also avidly hunted for food, although its preparation was rather laborious, for in order to subdue its musky odour its hair was first singed off, then its body was exposed overnight and then boiled in two batches of water. Here is a beautiful watercolour painting of one of them, with gouache, on paper, circa 2000.

J.K. Potter Original Photographs and Autograph Letter

Fifteen original pieces of horror art (including one print and one set of contact sheets, in addition to photographs) by Potter, one of the most renowned contemporary fantasy artists. Potter uses traditional darkroom techniques to generate startling, often erotic, mind-bending, sensual images with both dramatic shock value and a dark sense of foreboding. His art has illustrated works by J.G. Ballard, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Poppy Z. Brite, Lucius Shepard, Ramsey Campbell, Clive Barker, William Gibson, William Burroughs and others.

Antique Japanese Porcelain Whistle

Early Japanese porcelain bird-whistle in the shape of a reclining boy, dating from ca. 1700. Painted and decorated in vibrant colors of enamel and a transparent glaze. The treatment of the porcelain body is still in a rather experimental phase and shows some body shrinking under the glaze. Possibly to be ascribed to the early Arita (Kakiemon type) kilns in Edo period Japan.

Hawaiian Hospitality (A 1943 book shaped like a pineapple).

Edited by Helen Berkey. Octavo. 48pp., illustrated from photographs; vignettes. Stapled die-cut wrappers in the shape of a pineapple. Slight creases on the wrappers, small ink note on the title page, else near fine. Exclusively limited to tropical cocktails, the irregular shape makes it difficult to find in nice condition.

Painting of a Spaniel by Henry Bernard Chalon

Henry Bernard Chalon (1771-1849) 1801 Oil on canvas Signed and dated “H.B. Chalon 1801″ lower right 19″ x 23 ½”; 24″ x 27 ½” framed Henry Bernard Chalon, the son of a Dutch etcher and musician, was born in London in 1771. He studied painting at the Royal Academy, and by the age of 22 was a regular exhibitor at the Academy. A prolific painter at a young age, Chalon was made Animal Painter to the Duchess of York in 1795. Later Chalon was named as the official Animal Painter to the Prince Regent and William IV. In 1827 he collaborated with his brother-in-law, William Ward, on a series of horse racing illustrations for Sporting Magazine. Chalon is best known for his portraits of horses, dogs and cattle and was well patronized throughout his career. Many of Chalon’s paintings are of animals that belonged to various members of the royal family. This portrait of a spaniel was likely painted for the Duchess of York, Princess Frederica Charlotte Ulrica (1764-1820), a dedicated dog lover, while Chalon was under her patronage. Chalon was known for his attention to detail and the anatomical correctness of his animals, which can clearly be seen in this charming work.

Coming Up: Florida Antiquarian Book Fair – April 21-23

“For book lovers, it’s Paradise.” That’s the tagline of the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, the oldest antiquarian fair in the Southeastern United States and the third largest in the nation. Hosted by the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association, the event is taking place for its 36th year this April 21-23 at the historic Coliseum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The fair is once again bringing expert dealers from all over the United States, specializing in books of every age and subject matter. It’s a wonderful opportunity for visitors to explore rare books, antiquarian volumes, antique maps, ephemera, paper collectibles and more.

If you aren’t able to make it to St. Petersburg next weekend, you can still experience the event by tuning into Rare Book Café, a weekly webcast where you can learn about rare book collecting through interviews and panel discussions with industry experts. The webcast airs on Saturdays at 2:30pm, and all episodes are archived on Youtube after their live run. Audience questions and participation are encouraged!

AbeBooks sellers exhibiting their products at the book fair include Lighthouse Books, Back in Time Rare Books, Liberty Book Store, Alexander Rare Books, First Folio, Wonderland Books, Bauman Rare Books, and All Booked Up.

To see a full list of vendors and learn more about the event, visit the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair website.

AbeBooks is proud to sponsor this fair. Don’t miss out – if you’re in the area next weekend, be sure to drop by for a visit!

Amazon’s Best Books of the Month: April 2017

Merciful Zeus, the books editors at Amazon are determined to ensure my TBR pile never gets small enough to stop being a toppling hazard. They always choose such fascinating books to feature, so that by the time I finish reading about the 10, there are generally at least five on my shopping list. This month is no exception, with a debut novel of historical fiction, a scorching condemnation of racism in the American justice system, a conversation about grief and the way forward after an unthinkable loss, and much more. Here we go.

Beartown: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

American War: A Novel by Omar El Akkad
Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.
Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances.
In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. Based on years of research and startling new evidence, the book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly compelling, but also emotionally devastating.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley: A Novel by Hannah Tinti

Samuel Hawley isn’t like the other fathers in Olympus, Massachusetts. A loner who spent years living on the run, he raised his beloved daughter, Loo, on the road, moving from motel to motel, always watching his back. Now that Loo’s a teenager, Hawley wants only to give her a normal life. In his late wife’s hometown, he finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at the local high school.

Growing more and more curious about the mother she never knew, Loo begins to investigate. Soon, everywhere she turns, she encounters the mysteries of her parents’ lives before she was born. This hidden past is made all the more real by the twelve scars her father carries on his body. Each scar is from a bullet Hawley took over the course of his criminal career. Each is a memory: of another place on the map, another thrilling close call, another moment of love lost and found. As Loo uncovers a history that’s darker than she could have known, the demons of her father’s past spill over into the present—and together both Hawley and Loo must face a reckoning yet to come.

The Women in the Castle: A Novel by Jessica Shattuck
Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.

Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead. Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity. “I want Dave,” she cried. Her friend replied, “Option A is not available,” and then promised to help her make the most of Option B.
We all live some form of Option B. This book will help us all make the most of it.

Void Star: A Novel by Zachary Mason
Not far in the future the seas have risen and the central latitudes are emptying, but it’s still a good time to be rich in San Francisco, where weapons drones patrol the skies to keep out the multitudinous poor. Irina isn’t rich, not quite, but she does have an artificial memory that gives her perfect recall and lets her act as a medium between her various employers and their AIs, which are complex to the point of opacity. It’s a good gig, paying enough for the annual visits to the Mayo Clinic that keep her from aging.

Kern has no such access; he’s one of the many refugees in the sprawling drone-built favelas on the city’s periphery, where he lives like a monk, training relentlessly in martial arts, scraping by as a thief and an enforcer. Thales is from a different world entirely―the mathematically inclined scion of a Brazilian political clan, he’s fled to L.A. after the attack that left him crippled and his father dead.

A ragged stranger accosts Thales and demands to know how much he can remember. Kern flees for his life after robbing the wrong mark. Irina finds a secret in the reflection of a laptop’s screen in her employer’s eyeglasses. None are safe as they’re pushed together by subtle forces that stay just out of sight.

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples TempleThe Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn
In this riveting narrative, Jeff Guinn examines Jim Jones’s life, from his extramarital affairs, drug use, and fraudulent faith healing to the fraught decision to move almost a thousand of his followers to a settlement in the jungles of Guyana in South America. Guinn provides stunning new details of the events leading to the fatal day in November, 1978 when more than nine hundred people died—including almost three hundred infants and children—after being ordered to swallow a cyanide-laced drink.

Guinn examined thousands of pages of FBI files on the case, including material released during the course of his research. He traveled to Jones’s Indiana hometown, where he spoke to people never previously interviewed, and uncovered fresh information from Jonestown survivors. He even visited the Jonestown site with the same pilot who flew there the day that Congressman Leo Ryan was murdered on Jones’s orders. The Road to Jonestown is the definitive book about Jim Jones and the events that led to the tragedy at Jonestown.

Nevertheless: A Memoir by Alec Baldwin
Over the past three decades, Alec Baldwin has established himself as one of Hollywood’s most gifted, hilarious, and controversial leading men. From his work in popular movies, including Beetlejuice, Working Girl, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Cooler, and Martin Scorsese’s The Departed to his role as Jack Donaghy on Tina Fey’s irreverent series 30 Rock—for which he won two Emmys, three Golden Globes, and seven Screen Actors Guild Awards—and as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, he’s both a household name and a deeply respected actor.

In Nevertheless, Baldwin transcends his public persona, making public facets of his life he has long kept private. In this honest, affecting memoir, he introduces us to the Long Island child who felt burdened by his family’s financial strains and his parents’ unhappy marriage; the Washington, DC, college student gearing up for a career in politics; the self-named “Love Taxi” who helped friends solve their romantic problems while neglecting his own; the young soap actor learning from giants of the theatre; the addict drawn to drugs and alcohol who struggles with sobriety; the husband and father who acknowledges his failings and battles to overcome them; and the consummate professional for whom the work is everything. Throughout Nevertheless, one constant emerges: the fearlessness that defines and drives Baldwin’s life.

Prussian Blue (A Bernie Gunther Novel) by Philip Kerr
The French Riviera, 1956: The invitation to dinner was not unexpected, though neither was it welcome. Erich Mielke, deputy head of the East German Stasi, has turned up in Nice, and he’s not on holiday. An old and dangerous adversary, Mielke is calling in a debt. He intends that Bernie go to London and, with the vial of Thallium he now pushes across the table, poison a female agent they both have had dealings with.

But chance intervenes in the form of Friedrich Korsch, an old Kripo comrade now working for Stasi and probably there to make sure Bernie gets the job done. Bernie bolts for the German border. Traveling by night, holed up during the day, Bernie has plenty of down time to recall the last time Korsch and he worked together.

It was the summer of 1939: At Hitler’s mountaintop retreat in Obersalzberg, the body of a low-level bureaucrat has been found murdered. Bernie and Korsch are selected to run the case. They have one week to solve the murder—Hitler is due back then to celebrate his fiftieth birthday. Lucky Bernie: it’s his reward for being Kripo’s best homicide detective. He knows what a box he’s in: millions have been spent to secure Obersalzberg. It would be a disaster if Hitler were to discover a shocking murder had been committed on the terrace of his own home. But the mountaintop is home to an elite Nazi community. It would be an even bigger disaster for Bernie if one of them was the murderer.

1939 and 1956: two different eras, seventeen years apart. And yet, not really apart, as the stunning climax will show when the two converge explosively.

Better with Age: Treasures from the New York Antiquarian Book Fair

Today, we’re offering a guest post from Amazon editor Sarah Harrison Smith, who enjoyed the delights of the New York Antiquarian Book Fair at the weekend. This article was originally posted on the Amazon Book Review Blog.


The New York Antiquarian Book Fair is the most important book fair for rare books in the United States, and possibly in the world,” said Heather O’Donnell, of Honey & Wax Booksellers. “It’s the possibility to see, in the course of four days, every major library, rare book dealer, and collector. If you can only attend one fair, New York is where you are going to go.” On opening night, the fair, which ran from March 9 through March 12 at the Park Avenue Armory on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, had the air of a party: Champagne corks popped as the book dealers, many of whom see each other only once a year, exchanged industry gossip and bantered with their customers in accents that ranged from the plummiest of British English to French, Hungarian, Bavarian, and even local New Yorkese.

The book fair is not just for books: there are antique maps here; lithographs, sketches and etchings; letters from the famous – and even wallpaper. Honey & Wax, a relatively new bookseller based in Gowanus, Brooklyn, had a surprise hit on its hands with a salesman’s sample of German wallpaper from the 1950s. The “Romeo and Juliet” theme of the print attracted the attention of the Folger Shakespeare Library, which pounced on it on the first night, O’Donnell told me. Though it was marked as sold, the booksellers received four other offers for the 15-inch by 18-inch sample.  The asking price was $250.

Romeo and Juliet wallpaper offered by Honey & Wax Booksellers

Prices go much higher than that for older items or collections with particular historical significance. At this year’s fair, possibly the most expensive items on view were the Alexander Hamilton Collection, billed as “A Show-Stopping Gathering of Highly Important Original Letters, Documents and Imprints (or, the Genius, Passions, and Foibles of the Founding Fathers).” Fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smashingly successful Broadway musical, Hamilton, take note: for $2.3 million – scarcely more than you may have paid for your tickets to the show! – you could own this trove of hundreds of documents, which includes a passionate love letter from Hamilton to Elizabeth Schulyer in which he wrote, “You are certainly a little sorceress… and have rendered me as restless and unsatisfied with all about me, as if I were an inhabitant of another world.”

The Hamilton collection is currently in the possession of Seth Kaller, of White Plains, New York, and University Archives, of Westport, Connecticut. For Kaller, who has attended the fair for the past 15 years, this year’s fair seemed to draw an “a significantly larger and younger crowd.” One of the youngest visitors to his stall was a precocious 10-year-old girl. Kaller recalled, “She had actually just read Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton. I would show her a particular document, like Hamilton’s letter regarding Jefferson and the presidential election of 1796, and she would explain its significance to her parents!” The entire collection, with its documents transcribed, is available online.

If you enjoyed the PBS series Victoria, you might be interested in another historically significant collection with a somewhat smaller price tag – which is to say, $25,000 – that was on view in the stall of Honey & Wax. John Richard Coke Smyth, a 19th century British painter, showed these 125 watercolors of historical costumes to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1842. The royal couple were preparing to host a grand costume ball at Buckingham Palace, and looking for inspiration for their own costumes. O’Donnell explained: “Smyth showed the watercolors to Victoria and Albert, and Victoria annotated in pencil next to certain costumes, ‘This will do’ and ‘This also.’” For his part, Albert drew an entire sketch of his costume, which is included in the collection. “He chose to dress as Edward the Third – the queen went as his wife, Queen Philippa. So Albert, who was never crowned king, got to be king for that one night.”

Printer’s Error by bookseller Rebecca Romney

If you are looking to invest in newly published books with an eye to their future value, Ernest Hilbert of Bauman Rare Books suggests you look for books by authors who are – or who are likely to become – living legends, either for their roles in history or their reputations as writers. “It’s really hard to predict what will become valuable,” he said, but signed books by David Foster Wallace and Cormac McCarthy, for example, are recent books that are now very expensive. Signed copies of Blood Meridian, he said, are expected to hit $20,000, because “it was a commercial disaster” with a very small print run.

One book you might want to buy now, for future enjoyment, if not future investment, is Printer’s Error: Irreverent Stories from Book History, written by Honey & Wax’s co-owner, Rebecca Romney, with J.P. Romney. This anecdotal history of the “downright bizarre” progress of book innovations, from the Gutenberg Bible on, will be published this week by HarperCollins. Add a copy to your collection. Who knows what it may be worth in a few decades – and in the meantime, you can learn a little more about how books came to be such a fascinating and highly valued art form. Just don’t drop your copy in the bath.

Moe’s Books – a Berkeley landmark since 1959

A few weeks ago, I visited Moe’s Books in Berkeley, California, on a quiet Sunday morning. It was 10am and the students were just starting to emerge and consider their brunch options. You get a feeling for Moe’s long and eventful history when you immediately spot this poster for sale just inside the entrance.

What a powerful image – Berkeley, protests against the Vietnam War, 1969 and a used bookstore all rolled into one thing. I had to  buy one. Berkeley still has that edge. There have been numerous protests against Donald Trump in recent weeks and the university cancelled an event featuring Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos.

Moe’s goes way back. It was founded in 1959 by Moe Moskowitz and his wife, Barbara. They moved to Telegraph Avenue in the 1960s. The bookstore reflects the presence of the nearby university (just four blocks away) and the area’s long history of protest.  There are ample sections offering books on philosophy, culture, social science and politics.

There’s a lovely essay on the Moe’s website about Moe himself, who died in 1997. One of his daughters, Doris, now owns and operates the store.

Moe never lost his edge, or his passion for progressive causes. As he began his life as a Berkeley merchant and citizen, he sparred with the City Council over matters ranging from business permits to civic beautification, all of which were a prelude to his involvement in the Free Speech Movement and protests against the Vietnam War. Remaining true to his pacifist principles, Moe opposed not just the war, but any anti-war tactics, such as goading authorities into reactive responses, that could lead to violence. All the while he kept his bookstore open during curfews to shelter protesters and resist what he saw as authoritarian rule.

There’s a watchful painting of Moe looking down at the till area – I suspect he’s looking to see what books today’s readers are buying.

This is a large bookstore. There are four floors, housing more 150,000 books, and an elevator. There’s a rare book room on the fourth floor and an art gallery too. It’s got lovely long opening hours – 10am to 10pm everyday – which is ideal for late night book buying.

I enjoyed wandering from floor to floor, seeing the shop steadily become busier as more patrons wandered in after their Sunday morning coffee. I bought a book by Patrick Leigh Fermor, who would have loved this bookstore, and moved on.

Browse Moe’s Books on AbeBooks

The entrance to Moe’s on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley

There is a wide range of academic titles in Moe’s

Moe’s rare book room is a highlight for book collector’s

Art and art books galore

Books, books and more books

15 Literary Heroines for International Women’s Day

For over a century, each year on March 8th, people all around the globe take time out to celebrate the work, struggles, and achievements of women. We remember and acknowledge with gratitude those who fought for us in the past and recognize we have a long way yet to go for equal rights. Feminists and allies worldwide pledge to continue standing up for women’s rights, and hold in their hearts and minds that we should all be feminists. With whatever skill sets, resources and tools available, all over the world, women and allies persist.

Here at AbeBooks we spend our days gloriously immersed in books. The ideas, stories, characters, history and possibility found in their pages are among the greatest pleasures of being alive, and so much of that comes from women. We choose to celebrate today by recognizing 15 (a drop in an ocean) literary heroines who, through books, have made a positive impact on the world somehow. Some are the fictional characters who inspire us, reassure us, and embolden us. Some are the authors who use their voices, talent and skills to shed much-needed light on the issues still facing women and girls today. Still others are the women who have used their influence, intelligence and resources to fight for women’s right to education, access to literacy, and more.


See the Whole List of Literary Heroines

As always, we love to hear from you – leave a comment to tell us who we missed.


Prints, Posters, Books, and More! Visit the NYC Book and Ephemera Fair Friday March 10th

New York City Book and Ephemera Fair

If you’re in New York City on Friday March 10th, be sure to visit the NYC Book and Ephemera Fair aka “the Uptown Satellite Show”.

Sixty book and ephemera sellers will be displaying a wonderful selection of their best items including first editions, antiquarian books and other collectible treasures. Many of the most respected sellers will be at the fair including AbeBooks sellers’ Carnegie Hill Books, DuBois Rare Books, Harrogate Books, James Arsenault & Company, lizzyyoung bookseller and many more. For a complete list of attending dealers, and additional information, please see the fair website.

The fair will take place Friday March 10th from 8am until 7pm at the Wallace Hall at Church of St. Ignatius Loyloa, 980 Park Avenue in New York City. The event offers free, continuous shuttle bus transport to the Park Avenue Armory – location of the New York Antiquarian Book Fair – with the first trip leaving the Armory at 7:45am and the last one leaving Wallace Hall at 6:45pm. Discounted tickets are available.

AbeBooks is a proud sponsor of this fair.