the man who loved books too much

jordan

lothario speedwagon
Over 1000 posts
i just read this in a couple days and highly recommend it. it's a book about a compulsive book thief and a bookseller (ken sanders) who finally got him put in jail (for a couple years, at least). i got it from ken sanders rare books while i was in salt lake city earlier this week, and sanders had signed the title page... so if you want a signed copy, you can order it from him.

it's a great read for anyone that collects, and lots of familiar names pop up: sanders (of course), peter howard, brick row book shop, locus solus, goldwasser, etc.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Over 1000 posts
I'm reading it now. The thief has a screw loose, or wanted to get caught, so he's not all that interesting to me. He mainly "collects" to impress people (he imagines) with his "fine library." He acquires valuable books as trophies, and seems to have little genuine intellectual curiosity. Still, it's an entertaining book with lots of mention of various rare book dealers I've dealt with over the years. And it mentions Acres of Books in Long Beach, which was my haunt in college in the 1960s. Acres closed recently. A friend snagged a souvenir for me: a plank of plywood from the end of one of their crude homemade bookshelves, with a bunch of vintage sci-fi paperback covers stapled on it. It's in my basement and everytime I go down there, I am reminded of Acres of Books. I'll second the recommendation of the book, but I don't feel it's in the same league as The Poet and The Murderer, about Mormon document forger Mark Hoffman. Now that guy is a scholar and a genius. Too bad he killed a couple people in a clumsy attempt to cover up his crimes.
 

anais ninja

Fast like a marsupial
i live in salt lake, have for 10 years now, and have been in Ken Sanders Rare Books hundreds of times...and i don't recall ever hearing about this book...it's crazy.
but, i'm gonna go check it out now....thanks for the heads up.

Hoffman is crazy...and he duped the Mormon church BIG TIME! helluva forger, too.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Over 1000 posts
There's a Bukowski connection here somewhere. The book mentions a book shop that Sanders (I think it was him) worked at/owned/something called Cosmic Airplane. I used to get their rare book mail order catalogs back in the 1980s. They specialized in rare Mormon books and Beat Lit, including Buk.
 

Stavrogin

Over 1000 posts
Have The Man Who Loved Books Too Much tucked away in my Amazon wishlist and need to get it carted soon. Found the premise interesting. Sad to relate but when younger I'd shoplift books with reckless abandon. Parents were/are very strict fundamentalist Christians and forbade me from reading anything that was Unchristian like - one can only take so much C.S. Lewis, Hal Lindsey, John Bunyan and Chick publications. Of course I did the honorable thing and said, fuck that! and proceeded to swipe everything from Boccaccio to Puzo. When feeling particularly randy I'd snag an issue of Mad Magazine (those were trickier as they were generally close to the cashier). Of course I could have made all things simpler by just exploiting the treasures to be found in a library but I was determined to be foolish and savor the risk - somehow the risk made the books read better. Sorry to relate my nerd-thug years but this book made me reflect on my early foolishness.
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
Over 1000 posts
gilkey (the thief) is such an asshole that you can't help but keep reading. like when the police seize some of his property but don't have enough evidence that it is stolen, so they give it back to him... and he acts like it's rightfully his, even though he stole it. i also find it interesting how gilkey only steals to assemble a library that will impress people, but he still becomes totally obsessed with books, researching them just like legitimate collectors do.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Over 1000 posts
Cosmic Airplane had something to do with Buk's "8 Story Window".

Good connection!
You're right, Bill. I was going to mention that, but it was early, I was half asleep, and I wasn't sure of it, so I let it go. I'm trying not to shoot from the hip on every post. Need to raise my batting average.

gilkey (the thief) is such an asshole that you can't help but keep reading. like when the police seize some of his property but don't have enough evidence that it is stolen, so they give it back to him... and he acts like it's rightfully his, even though he stole it. i also find it interesting how gilkey only steals to assemble a library that will impress people, but he still becomes totally obsessed with books, researching them just like legitimate collectors do.
Right, he's an idiot. Goes on buying sprees with bad checks, gets caught, goes to jail, then steals more to even the score because he feels wronged. I get the impression he wouldn't be going after these books if they were inexpensive. That being interesting texts, even rare, isn't enough for him. He wants the big price items. It's all for show. He's a chump.
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
Over 1000 posts
also, i like how his MO is to call up a bookstore and say, "hi, i'm looking for something in the $300 - $4000 range," instead of asking for actual titles... do people actually do that? they must, or the bookstores would have smelled a rat right away.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Over 1000 posts
I noticed that too. It's a weird way to shop for rare books. The value is all he cares about. Not the author, not the work, not the craftsmanship of the production -- just how much it's worth -- so he can feel like a big shot having it on his shelf. That approach of calling and asking what you have in a price range would rule out finding a bargain. But then, it's not his money he's spending, so why should he care? The thief is a dull, uninteresting loser. But it's an interesting book for the inside glimpse of the rare book market.
 

LickTheStar

Sad Flower in the Sand
Over 1000 posts
I'm curious about the book... Luckily, I can check out hardcovers for two weeks from work to read. Or I will be able to once inventory is done next week... this one's next on my list!
 

CRBSMILE

Over 500 posts
also, i like how his MO is to call up a bookstore and say, "hi, i'm looking for something in the $300 - $4000 range," instead of asking for actual titles... do people actually do that? they must, or the bookstores would have smelled a rat right away.
This is strange. In ten years of dealing with used books I've never had any one shop for collectibles in such a way.
Years ago we did a purchase from a man whose father had died and left him an exstensive book collection, it was truely awesome, the nicest collection I've ever got to personally handle. The seller was not a very nice guy, I remember he made it very clear that he was selling off the collection out of spite. There were hundreds of books. We had to actually pay him partially over several weeks, and my boss at the time didn't even know what he had. I had to point out the first signed of John Dunning's, Booked To Die, which he had placed in the "so-so" pile. I wish I could remember other titles, but I remember feeling a bit of ego-glow, when after going thru the stacks and pointing certain titles out to him, we had to call the seller back in to give him $750 more dollars then he was originally paid.
The jewel of the collection was a first, signed edition of Dune, by Frank Herbert, which got stollen 3 weeks after we put it in a locked case! The guy came in during a night shift, actually unscrewed the hinges from the case pulled the book out and off he went. It wasn't noticed until the following morning. We were asking$5,000.00 in 2000, it's listed on ABE now at $10 to $15-thousand dollars! Amazing. CRB:)
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Over 1000 posts
CRBSMILE: I enjoyed your story about the big buy. My wife works at a used bookstore (and I've worked there in the past) and I've seen some of their big buys as they are being unpacked. They can be amazing. The buyer tries to be fair, to pay a set percent of what the books are worth retail, but later, going through the books in more detail, incredible things are discovered. Books bought as unsigned are found to be signed. A recent big sci-fi buy has turned up some signed Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison and A. E. Van Vogt books. When there are boxes after boxes after boxes of primo mateial, not everything gets looked at carefully. I love dropping by there and seeing the new rare books that have come in. The challenge is resisting buying items I'm interested in, and I don't always win that battle.
 

CRBSMILE

Over 500 posts
Of course you don't win the battle! Who could? or should?
I look forward to finding/stealing, and/or reading this book. (Just kiddin', I'll borrow or buy.)
People love to steal books. It's standard in the industry.
Abby Hoffmen, (thatdirtyhippie), is still making $$ off an aptly named self-help book.( :) )
Who can tell me what the #1book thieved from book stores is?
 

LickTheStar

Sad Flower in the Sand
Over 1000 posts
Homeless people have to have some way to sell their devotion...

That and those crazy sandwich board people.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Over 1000 posts
Bukowski gets stolen a lot. As do books on Magick (the occult stuff, not sleight of hand). Books on illegal drugs. I'm sure there's a long list somewhere. When I worked at a used bookstore last year, a woman came in and was acting like she was going to grab "Little Black Sambo" out of the display case in the rare book room when I wasn't looking. It's a $300 copy, and she wanted it badly. Stealing rare children's books is kind of weird. If I were a book thief, I'd go after incunabula.
 

Black Swan

Abord the Yorikke!
Over 1000 posts
Bukowski gets stolen a lot. As do books on Magick (the occult stuff, not sleight of hand). Books on illegal drugs. I'm sure there's a long list somewhere. When I worked at a used bookstore last year, a woman came in and was acting like she was going to grab "Little Black Sambo" out of the display case in the rare book room when I wasn't looking. It's a $300 copy, and she wanted it badly. Stealing rare children's books is kind of weird. If I were a book thief, I'd go after incunabula.
I had to look it up


"Incunabula" is a generic term coined by English book collectors in the seventeenth century to describe the first printed books of the fifteenth century. It is a more elegant replacement for what had previously been called "fifteeners", and is formed of two Latin words meaning literally "in the cradle" or "in swaddling clothes". The word is plural; in referring to a single fifteenth century book, "incunabulum" is correct. This term is also occasionally Anglicized as "Incunable". The first Incunabulum is the Gutenberg Bible of 1455, although there is today some debate among scholars over whether this may be correctly considered the first printed book, as items had been printed in Europe from solid block type, rather than moveable type, since the fourteenth century. Books made in 1500 are the last incunabula, printed in the final year of the fifteenth century. In correct usage the new century began (as all do) on January 1, 1501, as the year 1500 is simply the one hundredth and final year of the fifteenth century.

And yes, Bukowski is sometimes in a glass case, especially around universities.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Over 1000 posts
Sorry about that latin term. It was a half baked pun: stealing a rare children's book / stealing incunabula / "from the cradle" = robbing the cradle. Bad, I know.
 

Black Swan

Abord the Yorikke!
Over 1000 posts
I am not a very good thief.
When I was 17, in art school, I stole a book on style with Louis the XlV on the cover. I thought he had pretty cool shoes, thights and outragous hair style at the time. I never felt so bad.
And I stole a book from Ponder.;) He deserved it. If he doesn't miss it, it's mine...
 
Top