AMONG THE GENTLY MAD: Perspectives and Strategies for the Book Hunter in the Twenty-first Century

Nicholas Basbanes, Illustrator, Nicholas A. Basbanes, Author . Holt $25 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8050-5159-9

Basbanes's guide to book collecting is a more practical, but no less impassioned, complement to his earlier history of bibliophilia, A Gentle Madness. He presents useful tips illustrated with charming anecdotes about the collecting habits of everyone from Winston Churchill to Umberto Eco. To Basbanes, book collecting isn't about making money, but "about gratifying a passion in a sensible way." He urges collectors to buy books that they know and develop specific areas of interest to avoid "buying blind…the most frequently committed transgression in book collecting." He insists that it is possible to acquire first-rate collections on modest budgets, and extols the virtues of select Internet sites. Particularly intriguing are Basbanes's descriptions of the most interesting collections he has encountered. Among these are the George Arents Collection at the New York Public Library, which consists of several hundred thousand objects in 20 languages on the history, literature and lore of tobacco, as well as the Jay Miller Aviation History Collection at the Central Arkansas Library, consisting of 6,000 books on flight history and 50,000 aviation journals, along with hundreds of aircraft operation manuals. Basbanes also offers some startling figures. A first issue copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, for example, recently went for $15,000. Though targeted primarily at prospective collectors, this lively book will appeal to any book lover, as Basbanes's enthusiasm is infectious. (Nov. 12)

Reviewed on: 09/16/2002
Release date: 11/01/2002
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