Rick Gekoski in The Guardian
"I issued my first catalogue as a rare book dealer in 1982, while still lecturing in English at the University of Warwick, from which I resigned a couple of years later in order to deal full-time. By contemporary standards it was pretty fancy: photos of the best items, glossy paper, decent typesetting. I was a bit taken aback when my printer described it as "cheap and cheerful". Or maybe it was me he was referring to?”
In his blog “Finger on the page” Rick Gekoski, author (“think Bill Bryson, only on books”) and one of the world’s leading specialists in modern English, Irish and American literature muses about a strange, yet defining aspect of his “strange trade”: the rare book catalogue.
“The contents, though, were hardly inexpensive: there was a first edition of Ulysses, a Virginia Woolf corrected typescript, and a number of excellent inscribed books, including TS Eliot (to his first wife), and Joseph Conrad (a pre-publication inscription of Almayer's Folly, his first book). But the catalogue was based on my personal collection, so the problem was how to do another one in six months' time, and another after that. It isn't easy to find the right books: I try to find unique material, and buy in ones, not in lots. When offered a library or collection of books, I pick out the best few, and refer the rest to dealers who are better at books in bulk (yuck) than I am.
Read the whole article:
>>> Taking stock of rare book catalogues - It's hard to make a rational case for publishing these expensive print showcases, but they are a defining aspect of my strange trade, by Rick Gekoski in The Guardian (December 15, 2010)
>>> Rare Booksellers' First Catalogues
>>> Recent Catalogues on ILAB.org