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I read once that the dust jacket comprises 80% of a book’s value. It’s a good idea to protect your dust jackets in an archival cover, so that you can read, handle, and display the books without worrying about wear to the jacket.

Brodart is the go-to manufacturer of dust jacket covers for most libraries and rare book dealers. There are lots of different options on the website for covers, and it’s a bit confusing. After researching the different options, I decided to get an assortment package of the Fold-On Archival covers. I figured an assortment pack would be good for me, someone with a small personal library with books of various sizes.

So I purchased the 100-count pack of covers for $33.15, and an 8″ bone folder for $9.45 to make clean folds where size adjustments are necessary. The covers are extremely easy to assemble with the dust jackets and to adjust the size when needed.

A photo of the books I covered today, and my current reads.

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accordioncrimesOver the weekend, I shopped at Books for America‘s amazing sale of used books. I’ll do a profile on Books for America (located in Washington DC) later, but it’s enough now to say that it’s a charity bookstore that has amazing prices.

And those amazing prices were half-off this past weekend. The hardcovers I bought were originally $4, marked down to $2. I bought six books for over $12 with tax! Incredible.

Two of the books weren’t first editions — I just wanted to have them. They were Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (which I have read before, though a long time ago) and The Dive from Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer, which I want to read eventually (though I might have to schedule that in 2011).

The others I bought because I suspected they might be first editions, and of course because I wanted to read them as well. I never buy books just for the potential value of them, because I’ll likely be wrong that the book’s a first edition and them I’m stuck with a book I don’t want. Those were Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver; Accordion Crimes by Annie Proulx; Leap of Faith by Queen Noor; and The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike.

And of course, I came home and did my requisite Alibris analysis (checking to see what the market prices are for first editions). Alas, Accordion Crimes apparently had a limited edition run of 2500 signed copies, and my copy is not one of those. Who knew?! My copy does have a number line with a “1.” Judging from copies for sale on Alibris, I’d guess my copy is about $15. Pristine copies of the signed limited edition are listed for $200.

The Prodigal Summer is probably worth around $20, Leap of Faith isn’t really worth anything, and The Witches of Eastwick, because of the limited run of 250 printed by the Franklin Library (John Updike always does this), is worth around $10. I take into account the condition of the books when I make these estimations.

Checking the prices is just a fun exercise for me; I have no intention of turning around and trying to sell any books. Not anytime soon, anyway!

From the novel I’m currently reading, Birds Without Wings by Louis des Bernieres. It’s about the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey, set in the early 20th-century, and promises to continue the beautiful epicness of des Bernieres that I last encountered in Corelli’s Mandolin.

Birds Without WingsThere comes a point in life where each one of us who survives begins to feel like a ghost that has forgotten to die at the right time, and certainly most of us were more amusing when we were young. It seems that age folds the heart in on itself. Some of us walk detached, dreaming on the past, and some of us realise that we have lost the trick of standing in the sun. For many of us the thought of the future is a cause for irritation rather than optimism, as if we have had enough of new things, and wish only for the long sleep that rounds the edges of our lives. I feel this weariness myself.

A History of ReadingIt may sound silly, but I really enjoy reading about reading. Perhaps I enjoy these types of books because they introduce the pleasure of reading through someone else’s eyes, or they push me to approach reading in a different way. Or maybe I just like the books because I love the subject so much.

Regardless, here are three very interesting reads on reading, and books.

On Writing and Reading

  • Aspects of the Novel, by E.M. Forster — gleaned from Forster’s series of talks on such aspects as “The Plot” and “The Story,” the survey of novels is widely considered to a best nonfiction work of the 20th century
  • Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books…, by Francine Prose — she uses thought-provoking passages from Austen, Dostoevsky, le Carre, et al. to identify the elements that make great fiction
  • A History of Reading, by Alberto Manguel — a treasure trove of tid-bits related to the subject of reading throughout the ages, including personal stories and historical illustrations; a delight for any serious reader

Have any to add?

A Cultural History of RussiaMcLaughlin’s Used Books
512 Terry Pkwy.
Terrytown, LA 70056
(504) 367-3754

Okay, so I lied a little bit in the title of this post. McLaughlin’s isn’t actually in New Orleans, it’s on the westbank in Terrytown. But if you’re located in the New Orleans metro area, I highly recommend it.

My mom’s been coming here for a long time to trade her used books for “new” reads. I’ve gone along a few times. This time, I went with an eye to checking out the first edition selection. This is not the place to look for first editions of titles from the 1990s or earlier. The books at McLaughlin’s are largely recent titles. That said, the selection of literature is fantastic, and the books are in consistently excellent condition — the best I’ve seen overall at a bookstore.

So if you buy or trade for books here, you’re probably not going to discover a diamond in the rough anywhere — the books you buy will be worth what you pay for them. But it’s a great place to find interesting reads that look like new, and who knows? — maybe years down the road you’ll see a nice return on your investment.

So having traded in some nice but used paperbacks and making a cash outlay, here’s what I got (you can tell I was in a historical nonfiction kind of mood):

I’m sure you’re wondering, as am I, how I will ever get to all these books I’ve accumulated. The jury’s still out on that one.

Here’s my latest round-up of interesting news in the book world:

    Chuck Robert's 54,000-square foot book warehouse

    Chuck Robert's 54,000-square foot book warehouse

  • Should bargain hunters be blamed for the doomed book business? One bookstore owner claims that buying used books deprives the authors of their deserved income. [The New York Times]
  • More bad luck for Oprah. Yet another memoir she selected has turned out to be fabricated. This time, the author lied about meeting his wife at a concentration camp — he claimed she threw food to him over a barbed wire fence. In fact, they met in New York years after the war. James Frey breaths a big sigh of relief. [ABC News]
  • “[T]he web book business is literally the Wild West.” An independent bookseller with an online bookstore and a stock numbering in the tens of thousands talks about his booming business, in stark contrast to the troubles facing brick-and-mortar bookstores. [The Washington Post]
  • Get nine free e-books. Free books you say?! Yep. Absolutely free. And some nice picks too, all with at least 4.5 stars on Amazon. I haven’t read The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss yet, but I’ve heard it’s good, and I just may download it. [eReader.com]
  • London’s The Guardian has come out with a list of not-to-miss books in 2009. One title, 2666 by Robert Bolano, came out in the US in 2008. The rest of the list is largely comprised of British writers, and it offers an interesting perspective for those of us on the other side of the pond. [The Guardian]