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Posts Tagged ‘used books’

Party of One

June 11, 2015 | by

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Not long ago, I picked up a fifty-cent copy of Sally Quinn’s The Party: A Guide to Adventurous Entertaining from a street vendor. I was interested enough by the beltway gossip and tales of DC hostesses and the faint whiff of notoriety that still emanates from its pages almost twenty years later. I learned the term Philadelphia Rat Fuck, thereafter referred to by the author as “a P.R.F.” And I do love an entertaining guide: say the words pink lightbulbs and I’m there. (I’ve been slavishly conjuring their flattering glow since I first read the tip in a 1980s copy of Sunset.) But ultimately, what intrigued me most about the book were the previous owner’s underlines.

Any scholar will tell you marginalia are the true window of the soul—or brain, at any rate. (Even if it’s just a window into your own immaturity via passionate collegiate commentary on bell hooks.) Jottings, doodles, highlights: there’s a reason between the lines is a cliché. It’s revealing. Read More »

Where They Live

June 8, 2015 | by

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Guy Laramée, via This Is Colossal

The French Canadian artist Guy Laramée, whom we’ve featured before on the Daily, has a new series of book sculptures, “Onde Elles Moran”—“Where They Live.” Laramée spent nine months on the series, which features Brazilian birds painted on secondhand, linen-bound Clássicos Jackson—something akin to our Great Books of the Western World, those generically handsome tomes seemingly designed to collect dust on attractive shelves—with the birds’ native habitats carved into the pages.

Laramée has become known for his book sculptures, which he began about five years ago; he regards books as raw material in need of processing, and he’s proven unafraid to go at them with a chain saw. But he can also approach the medium with a miniaturist’s attention to detail, as demonstrated in the topography of the landscapes here; he uses oil, inks, pigments and dry pastels, crayon, fixative, and beeswax. “It all started in a sand blaster cabinet,” he said in an interview with ANOBIUM about the sculptures’ genesis:

I put a book in there—stupid idea—and there it was. Within seconds I saw the landscape, the drama, Borges, the little people who lived in books, everything … I never really totally forget that these are books, that my raw material is not wood, not even paper, but a book. At times I’m lost in the project, in the landscape. But a book is a book, structurally. The pages are not glued, so you have to respect the structure, from the binding of each pages to the cover, otherwise pages will fly away when you release the clamps.

 You can see more of his work at This Is Colossal, JHB Gallery, and on his Web site. Read More »

Introducing the Biblio-Mat!

November 15, 2012 | by

The Monkey’s Paw dubs itself “Toronto’s most idiosyncratic secondhand bookshop,” a mix of antiquarian treasures, oddities, art installations, and eccentricities of all kinds. Their latest innovation? The Biblio-mat, a vending machine that  dispenses random used books. As owner Stephen Fowler told Quill & Quire, “The books in the machine are two dollars each—that’s not enough to make any profit, but the nature of the secondhand book business is that I end up with a lot of books that are interesting and worth keeping and disseminating, but have no practical retail value.”

For more on why we love this place, check out this 2010 short film:

 

 

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Sisters of the Night

August 3, 2012 | by

The bookstore, and especially the used bookstore, is vanishing from New York City. Today there are a few, but there used to be a multitude of them, crammed between kitchen appliance shops and Laundromats and thrift stores. They all had temperamental cats prowling their aisles and they all smelled wonderfully of what a team of chemists in London has called “a combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness.” I will miss terribly this stimulating fragrance, and the books that produce it, when it’s washed from the city for good. Luckily, there are towns that still accommodate used bookshops. Lambertville, New Jersey, is one of them. On North Union Street, there are two used bookstores, Panoply and Phoenix Books, one right across from the other. You can spend hours here, and it’s guaranteed that you’ll return with some grassy, musty artifact of the past. On my last visit to Panoply, I came home with a copy of Sisters of the Night: The Startling Story of Prostitution in New York Today by “veteran newspaperman” Jess Stearn.

Published in 1956, the book began as an assignment for the Daily News when Stearn’s editor told him to find out what makes prostitutes “tick.” He was told, “Get out and talk to the girls, see the judges, the social workers, the cops, the headshrinkers—you won’t win a Pulitzer Prize but it should be worth reading.” Dragging his feet, the reluctant Stearn complied, going out in search of what one of the book’s reviewers called the “orchidaceous girls” of the city.

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