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Celebrate Art and Artists’ Books History at NYABF17 – Sept. 22-24

Photo courtesy Megan Mack

AbeBooks is pleased to partner with the twelfth annual NY Art Book Fair, the world’s premier event for artists’ books, catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines. The event, presented by Printed Matter, is taking place September 22 to 24, 2017, at MoMA PS1, Long Island City, Queens.

Free and open to the public, the 2017 NY Art Book Fair will feature over 370 booksellers, antiquarians, artists, institutions and independent publishers from twenty-eight countries. Exhibitors include zinesters, innovative and affordable publishing houses, and rare and antiquarian dealers offering an unparalleled selection of out-of-print books and ephemera from art and artist book history.

If you’d like to get first pick of the fair’s exciting inventory, be sure to buy a ticket for the opening night preview on Thursday, September 21, from 6 to 9 pm. The evening will feature special live performances on the steps of PS1 by Upstate Music, BLONDES, and Alexis Taylor (HOT CHIP). Entry to the preview costs only $10, with proceeds going to support NYABF17. The first 2,000 visitors to pre-pay online or to pay at the door (while supplies last) will receive a Ticket Edition by Emma Kohlmann.

Photo courtesy Megan Mack

Plus, the fair is once again hosting an array of programming and special events. The Classroom, sponsored by AbeBooks, will return for its eighth year of informal conversations, workshops, readings, and other artist-led interventions. Visitors will also have a chance to attend the tenth annual Contemporary Artists’ Book Conference, featuring two full days on emerging practices and issues within art-book culture.

Whether you are an artist, an art book collector, or just want to learn more about art and artist book history, Printed Matter and AbeBooks hope to see you at NYABF17!

Preview Thursday, September 21, 6-9 pm
Friday, September 22, 1-7pm
Saturday, September 23, 11am-9pm
Sunday, September 24, 11-am-7pm

MoMA PS1 is located at 22-25 Jackson Avenue on 46th Avenue,
Long Island City, NY

Photo courtesy BJ Enright Photography

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma spark interest in Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson

Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson

AbeBooks.com is currently seeing a spike in sales of Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson, a non-fiction book first published in 1999, which provides a real insight into hurricanes, weather forecasting and human folly.

Larson’s book details the hurricane that hit Galvaston, Texas, in 1900 and killed more than 6,000 people, making it America’s worst natural disaster. The ‘Isaac’ referenced in the title is Isaac Cline, chief observer of the Weather Bureau in Galvaston. Larson explains the events mainly from Cline’s perspective and details the mistakes that contributed to the huge loss of life in a city that was completely unprepared.

The book was last published in 2008, and has been a bestseller around the world. However, Isaac’s Storm has gone off the radar in recent years and is now effectively out-of-print.

It details how weather forecasting was rapidly developing at the turn of the century, but the Weather Bureau’s communication skills and leadership left much to be desired.

Larson’s book also shows how badly prepared the United States used to be for extreme weather. In the case of the 1900 hurricane,  Larson builds a picture of a world enjoying a period of unheard of technological advancement where nature really wasn’t regarded as much of a threat. The Weather Bureau was an organization spoiled by internal politics, according to Larson, that had “banned the use of the word ‘tornado’ because it induced panic.” It chose to ignore warnings from Cuba and attempted to centralize communications around storm warnings.

Galvaston’s highest point in 1900 was just 8.7 feet above sea level. Because record-keeping was rather sketchy at this point, details of any previous floods of the town were considered to be myths.

Larson’s description of the winds, ranging from 150pm to 200mph, and multiple storm surges of water are intense. Wooden houses were picked up and crushed. Debris filled the air and the sea, and became incredibly dangerous. Cline – who could have evacuated his family – lost his pregnant wife, three daughters and his younger brother in the storm.

Willis Moore, the chief of the US Weather Bureau, wrote that the Galvaston storm was a one-off. “Galvaston should take heart as the chance are that not once in a thousand years would she be so terribly shaken.” The city, which built a sea wall in response to the 1900 disaster, was hit by hurricanes in 1915, 1919, 1932, 1941, 1943, 1949, 1957, 1961 and 1983, according to Larson.  Galvaston is 60 miles from Houston and felt the effects of Hurricane Harvey just days ago.

Larson’s sources included Isaac Cline’s 1945 memoir, Storms, Floods and Sunshine, the Weather Bureau archives, and Galvaston’s Rosenberg Library.

Find copies of Isaac’s Storm

Josephine Wilson wins 2017 Miles Franklin with novel called Extinctions

Extinctions by Josephine Wilson has won the 2017 Miles Franklin Award. The author is the 60th winner of Australia’s biggest literary prize for fiction.

The plots revolves around Professor Frederick Lothian, a retired engineer and an expert on concrete, who moves to a retirement village. His wife, Martha, is dead and he is no longer in touch with his two adult children. Events force him closer to his neighbor, Jan, and then the secrets start to unravel.

Wilson receives AUD $60,000 for winning the award.

See the book

Oil baron’s ‘on demand’ erotica collection sells for $9,500

An Oklahoma oil baron’s personal collection of literary erotica has sold for $9,500 on AbeBooks.com. The remarkable collection features almost 1,200 typescript pages of literature, containing a combination of 82 original and already published pieces of writing including stories, poems, songs, and jokes assembled by Roy Melisander Johnson (1881-1960).

Johnson’s binder of erotica

Johnson, who became wealthy after founding the Healdton Petroleum Company, was a lifelong collector of erotic writing and part the collection was assembled via an ‘erotica on demand’ system. He hired agents to enlist writers to provide stories for him. The pages are not signed so exact attribution is often difficult. However, the list of writers are believed to have included Henry Miller, author of Tropic of Cancer, Anais Nin, Miller’s lover and author of Delta of Venus, Lawrence Durrell, author of the Alexandria Quartet of novels, English poet George Barker, and painter Robert DeNiro, Sr, father of the actor.

Nin apparently tired of Johnson’s relentless requests for romanceless erotica and recruited friends and colleagues to assist. Novelist and TV writer Bernard Wolfe detailed his work for Johnson in his 1972 autobiography, Memoirs of a Not Altogether Shy Pornographer.

The collection, consisting of loose pages bound in a large binder, was sourced from author and bookseller Larry McMurtry, who detailed the oil man’s private passion in a letter included with the binder. McMurty, whose Booked Up bookstore was located in Archer City, Texas, just 100 miles from Johnson’s home of Ardmore, Oklahoma, describes the oil man as having an “insatiable need for literary erotica.”

As well as stories, the collection includes bawdy songs and poems, and two pages of dirty jokes. Johnson was a pillar of the community in Ardmore. He began life as a linotype operator and established the Ardmore Statesman newspaper before switching to oil.  His company tapped into the Healdton oil field, Oklahoma’s largest oil reserve. He also served deacon of the First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore while quietly building his enormous collection of erotica.

This binding full of erotica was AbeBooks’ most expensive sale in August.

Most Expensive Sales on AbeBooks in August 2017

1 A binder containing 82 typescript pages of erotica – $9,500

Oil baron Roy Melisander Johnson’s personal collection of erotic stories, poems, songs and jokes.

2 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and illustrated by Salvador Dali – $8,800

The 1968 edition of 2,500 copies featuring 12 surreal woodcut illustrations from Dali.

3 Down the Fairway: The Golf Life and Play of Robert T. Jones Jr by Robert T. Jones & O.B. Keeler – $7,800

Golf’s most collectible book published in the 20th century. A signed copy. Jones won the U.S. Open four times, the U.S. Amateur Open five times, the British Open three times, and the British Amateur once.

4 The Complete Work of Rembrandt by Wilhelm Bode – $7,680

Eight volumes. Published in Paris, 1897-1906. One of 75 numbered copies printed on Japan paper.

5 Peripateticarum Quaestionem Libri Quinque by Andrea Cesalpino (1519-1603)

Published in 1571 in Italy, this early medical book about the heart and blood coined the phrase “circulation of the blood.” A key text in understanding human biology.

Giveaway and Q&A with @mylittlebooktique

“A book in one hand and a coffee in the other.” That’s the description of one of our favorite Instagram accounts, @mylittlebooktique, which showcases one of life’s most perfect pairings to nearly 50,000 enthusiastic followers. The account was started by Haley from Virginia, when she came across the friendly Bookstagram community and decided to become part of it.

We adore @mylittlebooktique for a number of reasons. Firstly, Haley’s photographic style is immediately eye-catching. Each image is simple, elegant and clearly very well thought out. A handful of books, a fresh cup of coffee, and occasionally a bouquet of dried flowers, reading glasses, or other prop are displayed against a plain white background. The colors of every object in the picture either match or complement one another under lighting that is soft and pastel-like. The effect is extremely aesthetically pleasing and makes you feel like you’re in an actual boutique, or a high-end café.

Second, the coffee is just so fun! Sometimes plain, sometimes frothy, and always in a pretty saucer, it tempts us to make our own cup of joe and spend the afternoon lost in the pages of a novel. If you love books, coffee and talking about both, then @mylittlebooktique is definitely the place for you.

Read on to learn a little bit more about Haley! A special giveaway is also currently running on @mylittlebooktique for followers of both Haley and @abebooks – check out her channel for details on how to enter!

What is your favorite thing about sharing pictures of books on Instagram?

It shows where my passion lies and I love sharing it with those who visit my page. Also, it is a great way to make friends all over the world who love what I love.

What type of books are your favorite to photograph?

Any books with beautiful covers are what I love to photograph the most, and I love to take photos of vintage books that are tattered here and there but beautiful in their own way.

Haley of @mylittlebooktique

What is the most memorable book you’ve read recently?

My favorite genre to read is historical fiction, and I have recently read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. Although it made me very uncomfortable while reading it, due to the violence towards women and their life struggles depicted in the story, it is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time.

If you could share a cup of coffee with an author, who would it be and why?

That would be Han Kang, who wrote The Vegetarian and Human Acts. I would love to hear about anything else she wanted to add to Human Acts. The Gwangju Uprising that caused her to write Human Acts was something I learned about when growing up, but it was still shocking to read about. There must be something more she would like readers to hear about it.

What’s your favorite bookstore in the entire world?

I haven’t been to many bookstores, since I usually shop online. However, there is a small town, called Bosu-dong, filled with independently owned small bookstores in a city where I grew up in South Korea.

I used to go there to find English novels back when I was in middle school because that was the only place you could find foreign books back then. I loved the smell of old books and the stack of books piled up that make all bookworms excited.

Any tips to share with a beginning Bookstagrammer?

Be friends with other Bookstagrammers. The Bookstagram community is full of friendly and kind people who are eager to share their love for books with others. Having good company is always a great idea when you do anything in life.




3 Things to Anticipate at the Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair

The Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair is quickly approaching! Here’s what you can look forward to when one of the USA’s largest regional antiquarian book fairs comes to the Brooklyn Expo Center this September 8-10.

1. Friday Opening Preview Benefit

The Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair will feature over 100 top rare book, photograph, ephemera and print dealers from all over the world. Get first pick of incredible inventories by attending the Friday Opening Preview from 5-9pm. The preview benefits the scholarship fund of Rare Book School, an independent, non-profit and tax-exempt institute at the University of Virginia. Rare Book School provides innovative and outstanding educational opportunities to study the history, care and use of written, printed, and digital materials and related subjects. Tickets purchased for the Friday Opening Preview can be used for fair admission the entire weekend.

2. New Works on Paper Gallery Section

Matthew Carter’s typefaces

This year, the Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair will introduce a new “Works on Paper” gallery section, featuring top dealers of prints, drawings, etchings, engravings, lithographs, and photography. If you love historic and modern art, this is the place to be. The gallery will host exhibits by at least two celebrated artists: Maurice Sendak, best-selling children’s author and illustrator; and Matthew Carter, digital type designer whose work has been featured in the Museum of Modern Art. You can learn more about the “Works on Paper” gallery and its special exhibits in this blog post.

3. Special Events for the Entire Family

In addition to displaying high-quality rare books, art and ephemera, the fair is hosting a number of exciting talks and exhibits. Learn how to start your own book or print collection from experts in the field, or bring the kids to “popUpmania!” to learn the history of pop-up books and listen to a dramatic reading of The Three Little Pigs Pop-Up – the fair will have something suited to everyone’s style, interest and age level.

More Information

AbeBooks sellers exhibiting at the fair include Honey & Wax Booksellers, Imperial Fine Books, Bauman Rare Books, Alexanderplatz Books, Schulson Autographs, Eclectibles and Marninart.

More information on the Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair is available in this blog post and on the fair’s website. Tickets are available at the door on all days, but you can save on admission by purchasing tickets in advance online.

One of the thousands of luggage labels shown by Sheryl Jaeger of Eclectibles at the Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair


Brooklyn Expo Center

79 Franklin Street

Greenpoint, Brooklyn



Friday Preview, September 8 – 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Saturday, September 9 –11:00 am to 7:00 pm

Sunday, September 10 – 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.



Friday Night Preview Benefit — $25.00

General Admission Weekend Pass for $15 or $10 on Sunday



Collecting vintage luggage labels

Luggage labels are long gone. However they used to be a small but eye-catching part of the so-called golden age of travel from approximately 1900 to the mid-1960s. We are primarily talking about hotel luggage labels as hotels, particularly the ‘Grand Hotels‘, led the development of these small labels. Hotel chains and many of the world’s most notable hotels produced luggage labels that were slapped onto the suitcases of travellers. Free advertising. Surviving examples are scarce – once a label was applied to a suitcase with a strong gum it was not coming off – but we have found some beautiful labels worthy of any suitcase.

Learn more

Giveaway and Q&A with @bluestockingbookshelf

If you love beautiful books and beautiful paper, then you’ll want to mosey over to Instagram’s @bluestockingbookshelf. Run by Jen from the state of Utah, this Bookstagram account is a real gem, featuring vibrant, colorful and creative images of classic, beloved books.

Originally started as a blog, @bluestockingbookshelf was converted into a book photography account in March 2016. Because books have influenced her life profoundly, Jen has worked very hard at her account, treasuring every single comment, message and follower she receives, and relishing the incredible feeling of interacting with so many people who care about books the way she does. Evidently, her hard work has paid off – @bluestockingbookshelf has grown from 1,200 to nearly 50,000 followers in just a year and a half!

We’re not surprised. Jen’s creative arrangements are sure to please any booklover instantly. The images she posts are simple and oh so stunning. Usually, the arrangement includes just a handful of books, occasionally accompanied by a funky coffee mug, cute tea cup, or illustrated quote. But what really makes the images pop is their patterned backgrounds. Tigers, peacock feathers, bicycles, ice cream treats, hot air balloons – you name it, Jen probably has it on a piece of patterned paper tucked away in her home, awaiting its debut alongside a beautiful edition of a classic book.

Jen also hosts read-alongs, so be sure to check out her latest novel and follow along with the hashtag #bluestockingreads. This week, Jen is also hosting a giveaway for followers of both @abebooks and @bluestockingbookshelf – check out all the details on her Instagram account!

In the meantime, read on to learn a little bit more about this lovely Bookstagrammer.

What is your favorite thing about sharing pictures of books on Instagram?

I love meeting other people who love books as much as I do. That’s the beauty of social media—I’ve met so many kindred spirits from around the world, and that just wouldn’t be possible without Instagram.

What type of books are your favorite to photograph?

Jane Austen novels are my favorite because there are so many gorgeous designs out there. I always tell myself I have enough editions, and then I come across one more and of course I have to buy it.

Jen (@bluestockingbookshelf) and her husband, Jake

What are the last three books you read?

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, and Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee.

What is your favorite book of 2017 so far?

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. She is such an incredible writer, part of me wants to forget I’ve read it so I can experience the story for the first time all over again.

What is your favorite bookstore in the entire world?

There’s a Half-Price Books by my parents’ house that is my favorite because I have so many great memories of visiting it with my father. He would buy me as many books as I wanted, as long as they were Classics—and as soon as I finished them all, he would take me back for more.

What’s your day job?

I’m a fashion merchant for an online retailer. Growing up, my two loves were books and fashion, so I feel pretty lucky to be pursuing my two passions in life every day.

Any tips to share with a beginning Bookstagrammer?

Find an original theme, and make it your own. My favorite accounts are the ones I can recognize instantly, before I see the account name.



Giveaway and Q&A with @books_and_abe

“To build up a library is to create life. It’s never just a random collection of books.” –Carlos Maria Dominguez

Anyone who loves collecting books will understand the truth of that statement. Jackie, a Bookstagrammer from Arizona, certainly does. Though she created an Instagram account (@books_and_abe) to showcase the lovely sets and editions she owns only last year, Jackie has been enthusiastically collecting books for as long as she can remember. Today, nearly 10,000 followers admire her lovely “shelfies.”

If you adore clothbounds, word clouds, fine bindings and other beautiful variations of the classics, then we absolutely recommend following @books_and_abe on Instagram. From the get-go, you’ll be struck by the bright, cheery tones of Jackie’s creative arrangements. The editions she owns are vibrant and colorful, photographed against the backdrops of decorative blankets and quilts. Jackie also has a number of cacti on her bookshelf and around her home, sure to make you feel like you’re in sunny Arizona yourself.

Displaying her editions on Instagram has even helped Jackie grow her amazing collection. Gifts and suggestions from other Bookstagrammers – whom Jackie refers to as “kindred spirits” – have allowed her to complete sets with hard-to-find copies or discover entirely new editions she hadn’t realized existed.

This week, we’ve also partnered with @books_and_abe on a special giveaway, so be sure to visit Jackie on Instagram to learn how you can win.

Read on to learn a little bit more about Jackie!

What is your favorite thing about sharing pictures of books on Instagram?

I honestly think the best part of Bookstagram is the community, which is just 99% the kindest book-loving peeps ever. Everyone is uplifting and encouraging, and that feels rare for social media. Plus we all relate to each other and don’t see 30 books bought in one month as being totally cray, like other people do.

What type of books are your favorite to photograph?

This question is like asking which of my kids I like photographing better…I can’t choose because I love them all for different reasons. I’d have to say the Mr. Boddington Penguin Classics are high on my list.

Jackie (@books_and_abe)

What is the most memorable book that you’ve read in the past year?

Gone with the Wind seriously blew my mind. It is such an epic American novel. As much as I loved the movie growing up, it blew that out of the water. I’m in love with Melanie and Captain Butler.

If you could make everyone in the world read one book, what would it be?

This question is SO hard. Can I name my top 5 favorites?

  1. Jane Austen (All her works share the #1 spot.)
  2. Les Miserables
  3. My Name is Asher Lev (I named my second son Asher because of this book.)
  4. The Book Thief
  5. Little Women

What is your favorite place to read?

My bedroom is my book oasis. I installed shelving by my bed, and it’s my Bookstagram hub. I love to read and write in there. I even hauled a small desk in for work so I could be right there under my books.

What’s your day job?

My day job is being a stay-at-home mom. It’s my everything, and I love raising my boys. I am also a real estate agent, and I came back to teaching piano after a two-year hiatus – that money is my book-buying fund.

Any tips to share with a beginning Bookstagrammer?

Just have fun and be yourself. Don’t worry about how many followers or likes you get. I started Bookstagram purely to help me have a couple minutes every day to escape grieving my fourth little boy, Abe, who passed away very suddenly in 2014. It’s a little spot for trying to re-find my own creativity. Book collecting has been therapy for me. I’ve made wonderful friends and had a great time doing it.

Post what makes you happy! I can’t tell you how many times a post that I love so dang much and spent so much time on will get the fewest likes and the post I snap as I’m walking out the door will get over 2,000 likes. It’s hilarious, and I just roll with it because it doesn’t matter. Just enjoy the ride.



Giveaway and Q&A with @sorrythankyou79

Ah, vintage books. Few bibliophiles can resist these timeless relics of literary culture. For your daily dose of vintage glory, we recommend following Instagram’s @sorrythankyou79. Started several years ago by a woman named Andrea in California as an extension of her Etsy shop, @sorrythankyou79 is a great place to admire, talk about and purchase vintage books. This week, Andrea is also hosting a giveaway for followers of both @abebooks and @sorrythankyou79, so hop to her page for all the details!

Andrea is an experienced and highly-reviewed Etsy seller who has served large companies, including Google, and been featured on several prominent websites, including Fossil.com and Apartment Therapy. Buying books through @sorrythankyou79 is simple. She posts a picture of some vintage beauties (often accompanied by a couple of adorable vintage ducks). You be the first to claim a book in the comments, and it’s yours! (We’ve checked with Andrea, and unfortunately, the ducks aren’t for sale.)

Andrea also adores living amongst, photographing and talking about books, and she’s always excited to meet a fellow book-lover, so her page is a great place to discuss your latest finds and reads.

Read on to learn a little bit more about the Bookstagrammer behind @sorrythankyou79!

What is your favorite thing about sharing pictures of books on Instagram?

My favorite thing about sharing pictures of books on Instagram is the sharing them with a community of book lovers and friends who love books as much as I do! I’ve met some great bookish people through Instagram.

What kind of books are your favorite to photograph?

I like to photograph beautiful vintage books the best — it never ceases to amaze me how many amazingly lovely books there are, just waiting to be found and photographed and enjoyed!

What is the most treasured book in your collection?

The most treasured books in my collection are the ones that take me straight back to childhood and what started my love of reading: my vintage Nancy Drew books.

What is the first book you remember reading by yourself?

The first book I remember reading by myself…haha, that’s a really good question and one I would have to give some serious thought to. But there’s this one book that sticks in my memory from elementary school, called The Ghost Drum. I was in 4th grade when I read it, so it wasn’t the first book by any means – but it really made an impression on me and I remember loving it…wonder what I would think now?

Andrea from @sorrythankyou79

What is your favorite literary quote?

My favorite literary quote is “Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks,” by Dr. Seuss. A motto I have most definitely adopted and live by…I have stacks of books EVERYWHERE!

What’s your day job?

My day job is wife, mom (and also) secretary for my husband’s Heating and Air company.

Any tips to share with a beginning Bookstagrammer?

For anyone just beginning on Instagram, my number one tip is…be patient! Learn as you go – and make sure the photos you post are as beautiful as you know how to make them. You’ll learn and grow over time; everyone has to start somewhere.  Have fun and enjoy the Bookstagram community!