Update Announcements

by Craig Stark

#81, 13 November 2006

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank bookselling for excitement? Not high, I bet. Though some of us do have our moments in the sun, for the most part we spend most of our days in the quiet company of books, and when our spouses ask us, "How was your day, Dear?" it can often be summarized with almost frightening brevity inside of a single line: "Well, I bought some books, I listed some books, and I sold some books." And repeated daily.

Writers often lead quiet lives as well, though clearly there are more exceptions to the rule. One glaring exception is journalist Julian Rubinstein. Rubinstein has not so quietly fashioned a career out of getting stories nobody else could, one of which he parlayed into a 2004 Little, Brown best seller, Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts. Rubinstein himself regards the life of Attila Ambrus, on whom the book was based, "as just about the best story I ever heard in my life." Interested? So were we. BookThink's Catherine Petruccione interviewed Rubinstein recently, and I think you'll find it as fascinating as I did.

Booksellers should note, by the way, that movie rights to Ballad have been purchased. First editions can be snagged for a song - now. Later, if a movie is released, who knows?

Pop quiz: Who is Ed Ruscha? The first installment of BookThink's Top 10 on eBay appeared in September 2005. If you've been subscribing to the BookThinker at least that long and don't know the answer to this question, shame on you. Counting today's Top 10, he's made three appearances, and each time I've made a point of mentioning him in my introductory remarks. Both his paintings and photographs, collections of which often appear in book form, are hotly collected, and this is a bookselling flashpoint that should be committed to memory once and for all. Maybe this will help you remember: Pronounce his name as if it ended in 'y' - that is, resist the temptation to rhyme it with "fuchsia." Ruscha will also make an appearance in this month's Gold Edition - an issue devoted to over 70 of the best photographer flashpoints I know. Subscribe here, and your subscription will begin with Part I of a two-part series on photobooks.

Also of note in today's Top 10 is a copy of Ian Fleming's Moonraker that sold for $4743.49 - well, not so much the book itself but the buyer; this buyer has made several appearances on previous Top 10s as a seller. Buying and selling among dealers happens with some frequency at the high end. Some sellers look for faster sales than others and may be willing to part with books at prices that allow other, more patient sellers to sell for a profit. If you're interesting in investigating the details of this transaction, you'll need the auction item number. This and all other Top 10 item numbers are available free of charge by subscribing to BookThink's monthly Top 10 Item Numbers email list. To request a subscription, write me at editor@bookthink.com.

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