I mentioned this the other day on Twitter; while pricing a fresh pile of books, I found a small stack of SFBC books, single titles from the 70s and 80s. One of them was a copy of Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, which seemed in better condition than the others. I flipped it open and was surprised to find that there was no “Book Club Edition” inscribed at the bottom of the dust jacket’s flap. It had a printed price, so I turned the page to the publication information, and found the magic words “First Edition” written there with the publication dates. I got out the First Edition Guide and confirmed that it was a First Edition. I was pleased and perplexed, and conducted the pricing research, eventually finding out that it was worth at least $200.
It’s in lovely shape, as you can see from the pictures below:
Except for the ends of the spine and a tiny tear on the front, the dust jacket is in Very Good condition. The book itself I would rate as Fine/Very Fine. It is a beautiful copy and for a 55-year-old book looks pretty good.
I brought it home last night to admire it and read from it; it’s been a quarter-century since I read this story and it was lovely to sit in my reading chair and experience part of it again. I returned it to the store today and now it is in the Rare Books case, clad in plastic and waiting for someone to take it home. We passed it around and talked about it for a little while (one of my co-workers was as smitten with it as I was) and my boss made me a very generous offer if I wanted it, but the price is still too high for me. Maybe if I sell a few more stories or get some action on the book I’ll get it as a reward for myself, or maybe a birthday present.
I always get a healthy jolt of inspiration out of moments like these, whether or not these books come home with me. One of the advantages of my job is that I come across books like this once in awhile and sometimes I can acquire them quite affordably; I got a First Edition of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery and Other Stories this way, and a rare book on Italian dueling, a early printing of a John Ruskin book. . . these old touchstones come to us through the vast circulatory system of books in our society, from students leaving school, retirees closing their libraries, hungry people scouring yard sales, unknown trunks from a dead parent’s attic. . . people at moments of change send the books they love or forgot about or did not know their father had collected our way and we in turn send them back out into the world. That mediating position has both responsibilities and benefits, all attached to these bound sheaves of transfigured leaves. I sometimes feel that I have to cherish these books because we seem to moving to a world where books are packets of data on expensive devices and the circulation is changing.