Update Announcements

by Craig Stark

#110, 24 December 2007

Before I start yakking, I'd like you to read something published in an obscure magazine (The Iconoclast) 24 years ago by an equally obscure writer, Albert MacKenzie:

"What about this deity's [Santa Claus'] promises to our children and what about how he sparks their fantasies and imaginations, and fosters, wishes, desires, expectations, emotions, (and fixations of worldly pleasures and treasures) in the most treacherous, hypnotic fashion. If the spirit of Christmas is a whore, then Santa Claus is the chicken hawk leading children into, instead of away, from prostitution. It is not the children's bodies that are taken; it's their minds and souls, as they are seduced by the excitement of addictive fantasy and desire, completely foreign to the true spirit of Christ!

"Santa Claus is the antithesis of Christ and his teachings, and as such, he is also the antichrist. He wears the colors of Satan as he brings gifts to children, blatantly masquerades as Christ himself and even under the name of our lord himself. (Kris Kringle = Krist Kringle = Christ Child!)"

Strong stuff, huh? Whatever your perception of Christmas, there's no question that this holiday has an edge, not unlike Halloween, and even if you embrace the notion that dear Santa is a harmless, jovial creature who teaches the joy of giving and not (with a quick jumbling of letters) a manifestation of Satan himself, you have doubtless experienced unease now and again at the gap between what Christmas was "meant" to be and what it actually is. Yes, the dark side of collecting has cast its long shadow once again, and who else but Michele Behan to illuminate Christmas collectibles?

Next, you've doubtless heard the term "antiquarian book" many, many times, but what does it mean exactly? Surprisingly few bookmen have even attempted a definition, though many are quick and seemingly content to call themselves antiquarian booksellers. I confess that I consulted several dozen of my references books looking for a good discussion of it, and, if there was a definition at all (not usually the case) it was essentially meaningless. Example: "antiquarian bookseller: a dealer in old, rare or secondhand books" [The Bookman's Glossary, Jean Peters], which of course could apply to somebody who got his start yesterday by listing a used textbook on Amazon Marketplace! Well, we're braver at BookThink - rather, our Accidental Antiquarian Chris Lowenstein is - and I think you'll be enlightened by the definition she came up with. A few closing comments.

First, there's still time! All BookThink e-publications are 25% off until December 31. This includes both subscriptions and back issues. If your subscriptions are current, you may still take advantage of this sale by advancing them forward another year. It all happens here.

Finally, issue #45 of the Gold Edition, "Buying and Selling Hypermodern Signed First Editions," is being delivered this evening, December 23. There's a special focus in this issue on signed first edition book clubs (you'll see why when you read it), also a few suggestions on which clubs to consider, one of which we've been especially pleased with.

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Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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