|About the Book|
Larry McMurtry recommends this is in his own memoir regarding book dealing as one of the best books on collecting hes read. Im not sure I would go that far, but appreciate its distinct contribution to the genre. Written by a dealer in a time when most book narratives are dominated by collectors, this book offers a new perspective to the midcentury market for rare books, and rescues the status of the book dealer from those collectors whose wish to malign him by exposing how such ill-favor has more to do with collectors own miserly efforts to get good bargains than their questioning of dealers expertise. Carter does good work defining book collectors at the beginning of his account, and moves on from there to discuss the sweeping history of the book trade. He makes some interesting comparisons between British and American collectors (the latter are apparently more interested in showing off their collections than the former, but are also more amenable to cultivating their hobby beyond the rigid bounds of its Continental past). In part two, he talks about the elements that make books valuable, and has some interesting things to say about trends in taste vis a vis the economy. In the end, his account of the rare book trade comes off as more even-handed than many collectors accounts. He uses anecdotes from his own experience and knowledge, but seems untroubled by the biases that passionate collectors might have for their hobby. In this sense, I agree with McMurtry that Carters account is well-worth praise.