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Equine Profits for Real Men
C.W. Anderson and
The Gender Gap in Bookselling

by Craig Stark

#39, 21 March 2005

Horses are a chick thing. Why is probably anybody's guess, though more than a few eminent minds have tackled the question, among them Sigmund Freud, who postulated paternal symbolism. Zoologist Desmond Morris suggested something more prurient (I won't go there), and many others have offered more pedestrian explanations - for example, horses are receptive to human care, brushing especially, and given the nurturing nature of the female, this makes them the perfect match. It's also been opined that, contrary to popular perception, many young girls harbor a daredevil within, and sitting atop (becoming one with) a fleet, ground-pounding animal allows them to express it without getting down and dirty with the guys. Like Schulz's Pigpen, an impressive cloud of dust follows them everywhere, but in this instance they get to stay clean.

With guys, it's different. Sure, cowboys wouldn't be cowboys without horses, but with us it's rarely about the horse. It's about cutting and roping cattle, matching wills against fire-breathing broncos, shooting Indians, or winning the Kentucky Derby. Horses, that is, are a means to something else, not something we pursue deep relationships with. In my opinion, this is why guys don't read horse books. Why most guy booksellers don't sell them. And why many g.b.'s have never heard of Clarence William Anderson.

If you're a bookseller - believe me - there are times when it pays to drop your masculine (or feminine) propensities, and this is definitely one of them. C.W. Anderson (1891-1971), as most any educated lady will tell you, was one of the foremost horse illustrators of the 20th century.

He also penned (and illustrated) dozens of horse books, primarily fiction, the majority targeted at a juvenile audience. He's beloved especially for the Billy and Blaze series. The exceptional quality of his illustrative efforts was due in part to a somewhat unorthodox method, explained here in his autobiographical sketch from The Junior Book of Authors:

"All my illustrations are drawn on stone, for I find lithography the most satisfactory reproduction I know of, for you are in reality your own engraver when you work in lithography. The problem is that it permits no changes or corrections but it gets a brilliance and clarity not found in half tone."

Anderson collectors abound - yet another example of collectors following quality - snapping up books and prints alike, and if they're lucky enough to come across original artwork, will pay through the horse's nose for it. As a rule, I buy all Anderson prints I can find, framed or otherwise, signed or not, and most of his books, especially if they're first editions and published in the 1960's and earlier. Since many titles were originally published by MacMillan, confirming edition state is usually a no brainer because of this publisher's consistent practice of using "First Printing" on the copyright page. Ex-library books, which seem to be unusually numerous and are often - ugh -institutionally bound, may also do well if they're collectible editions. Many Anderson first editions in dust jackets in VG or better condition will often sell at $50 or so, the less common titles more, sometimes $100 and up, but only very early, very nice stuff will get into the stratosphere. Books that don't merit an investment of eBay labor will still sell reliably on fixed-price venues.

If you haven't already done so, I'd recommend conducting a search of closed Anderson auctions on eBay. Unlike many authors, sell-through is close to 100%. This is a clear indication of depth in the collector base. In bookselling, it's important to identify authors like Anderson because they're the bread and butter of this profession - sources of relatively common, mid- to high-range books that sell quickly.

Title Bibliography

Accent on Youth
Afraid to Ride
All Thoroughbreds
Another Man o' War
Before the Bugle
Big Red
Billy and Blaze
Black, Bay and Chestnut: Profiles of Twenty Favorite Horses
Blaze and the Forest Fire
Blaze and the Gray Spotted Pony
Blaze and the Gypsies
Blaze and the Indian Cave
Blaze and the Lost Quarry
Blaze and the Mountain Lion
Blaze and Thunderbolt
Blaze Finds Forgotten Roads
Blaze Finds the Trail
Blaze Shows the Way
The Blind Connemara
C.W. Anderson's Favorite Horse Stories
Colts and Champions
Complete Book of Horses and Horsemanship
The Crooked Colt
Deep Through the Heart: Profiles of Twenty Valiant Horses
A Filly for Joan
Great Heart
Gallant and Game
Heads Up, Heels Down: A Handbook of Horsemanship and Riding
High Courage
The Horse of Hurricane Hill
Horse of the Century, Man o' War
Horses Are Folks
Lonesome Little Colt
The Look of a Thoroughbred
The Miracle of Greek Sculpture
The Outlaw
Phantom, Son of the Gray Ghost
A Pony for Linda
Pony for Three
The Rumble Seat Pony
The Smashers
Tomorrow's Champion
A Touch of Greatness
The World of Horses

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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