Monday, September 08, 2008

That book is best which is well-respected 

Since I started hanging around the Book House and reading way too much and book collecting, I have gotten more perceptive of the condition of my books. I notice the gradations between fine and near-fine ratings. I notice how carefully previous owners hand-cut pages of books to open them. I can tell what dirt I can remove with a pencil eraser and what will simply be spread around. I wrinkle my nose at foxing. The first thing I check is the printing history. I notice whether fore-edges are gilded or marbled. I feel the difference between linen and wood-pulp paper. Ex-libris identifiers, when there are no interesting marginalia in the book, annoy me. And library stickers, which make books near worthless to collectors, annoy the hell out of me.

So I was annoyed last night, when I was flipping through a handful of books I used for my psych degree, to realize that my copy of S. L. A. Marshall's Battle At Best is ex-library. It's a reprint, published by Pocket Books, too. Effectively worthless. Except - the stamps say "Property of US Army" and US Army Military Institute Institute, 1967, Presented by [name]." The bar code is marked out, and the card pocket is empty.

Good thing I'm not a normal collector. This little well-read Pocket book has been in a military library, well-loved, or at least well-respected.

"...I was wholly dissatisfied with military history as we had read it up to that point, since it almost invariably led to a dead-end where guessing and romance took over. Always the 'fog of war' intervened at the most crucial time of the fighting and what happened thereafter had to be determined by guess and by God."

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?