From the Editor

by Craig Stark

#54, 17 October 2005

A review copy of a new price guide to vintage magazines arrived in the BookThink PO box recently. This book has been available for a number of weeks, but I bet most of you didn't know it existed. Actually, if one of the authors hadn't tipped me off about it several months ago, I might not have known about it either. As a rule, price guides maintain abysmally low profiles and often depend on word of mouth to generate sales - which are often slow in the best of circumstances. If the guide is less than terrific (frequently the case), even word of mouth won't help, and I'm sure stacks of these things end up remaindered - or tossed - right and left, year in and year out.

This time, however, my instincts are telling me something different: This is a guide that won't meet the same fate. Whether you sell magazines or not, I strongly recommend that you read the review of Antique Trader Vintage Magazines Price Guide in today's BookThinker. Bookselling gold awaits.

Question: when was the last time you saw an article on book repair in the BookThinker? This question occurred to me a week or so ago when we were making some changes to the home page blurb, which, by the way, contained this pesky little phrase in the list of resources available on the BookThink website: "intensive tutorials on practical book repair." Well, it should've read "tutorial," not "tutorials," because I could only find one solitary book repair article in the entire BookThink archives, and even that appeared eons ago - in fact, in the very first issue, September 1, 2003! Shameful, isn't it? And we call ourselves a resource provider for booksellers.

Obviously, it's high time to make amends, and at long last article numero dos appears today.

Response to last week's BookThinker on the FlatSigned/Inscribed issue was brisk and, without exception, shared Tim Doyle's point of view. Here's a letter that addresses a problem with Tim Miller's "salt" metaphor:

I enjoyed the exchange between Miller and Doyle on plain signed books versus inscribed copies, but in my opinion, Miller lost the argument when he stated his very first premise:

"Everyone knows that salt causes many health problems and has absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever.... This argument about the legality of salt is reminiscent of the ongoing argument about whether an autographed book should be just signed (FlatSigned) or personalized to a specific person like 'To Billy Bob.'"

Contrary to Miller's assertion, almost everyone knows that salt is one of the few nutrients absolutely essential to life.

While there is a certain speciousness to Miller's argument about signed books (after all, it is "easier" to sell a book which is signed only, versus inscribed), the contention that such books are more valuable than those copies which an author has taken the time to personalize has as much validity as the description of salt as a "terrible substance."

Perhaps Miller needs to read the folk and fairy tales in which a recurring theme is that of the king's daughter who says "I love you more than salt" and is exiled by her angry father, until he realizes the incomparable value of salt - a theme used by Shakespeare in King Lear.

Chris Volk

A reminder: this month's BookThink Special Offer is the whole enchilada - a complete set of both BookThink's Gold Edition and BookThink's 50/50 back issues: 21 in all, for $99.99. If you're new or nearly new to bookselling or just haven't yet taken the Premium plunge for whatever reason, this package will help you move to the next level. Order it here.

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Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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