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Book Regrets

· Fine Book Collecting,Buyer's Remorse,Book Regrets,Anne Rice,HG Wells

Every collector of anything has regrets! Let’s start with the regrets that are short term in nature.

Buyers’ Remorse

I just looked at the Wikipedia definition and it looks way too complicated. To me, buyer’s remorse is that feeling that comes within hours (minutes) of buying something that you really, really wanted but it was expensive. Should I have bought that. What would Glenda think? How will Glenda find out? I guess its OK.

And then the book arrives in the post-box (finally!) and you get it home and you get your scissors, or box cutter or maybe that nice knife over there and you surgically remove the paper covering the cardboard, and slit open the cardboard, and curse at the tape holding the bubble wrap in place, and then you use your fingers to lift the tape holding the paper wrapping surrounding your “need to have object” and finally it is in your hands. And remorse fades a little bit. And within a month remorse is gone. REMORSE BEGONE! And years later you tell people you were lucky to find that item at such a great price!

Books not bought

This is the regret that you never forget. It does not fade with time. It grows with time! All collectors of anything suffer from this. It is the beast under the bed. Here are some of my beasts.

J. P. Donleavy
I have been collecting J. P. Donleavy’s books since the 1970’s when my sister-in-law once commented that when her husband re-reads The Ginger Man he is impossible to live with for months. Well, I had to check that book out! And it was fun and now I have just about every first edition of everything he had written.

I was in London, back in the 1980’s, and I went into a rare bookshop in Covent Garden and asked if they had any Donleavy. No they said but if you leave your address with us we will contact you if something delicious comes in. Yeah, right! About a year later, I receive a letter from this firm that said they have just acquired Donleavy’s personal copies of proofs of two of his earliest works. They quoted the price (ouch!) and said that they would hold them for a month. I procrastinated and when I followed up months later they were gone.

So, today if I told you what they were and what I could have bought them for, you would say “Were you nuts, or what!”

Anne Rice

In the early 1980s, in Toronto, for a short while there was a little book shop, up on a second floor, that had review copies for sale. Some reviewer was trying to get some return for time spent! At the time, I was big on vampire films and starting a collection of books on the subject. So, I picked up a review copy of a book - price $2.00, flipped through it, read a few passages, and put it back. I looked through other books and decided to have another look at that book, that was in mint condition, not just a first edition but a review copy, and said no, I don’t think so.

And thus, I missed picking up my copy of Interview With The Vampire.

H. G. Wells

I started to collect the works of H. G. Wells in the mid 1970’s. In the early 1980’s, at the Toronto

Antiquarian Book Fair, I asked dealer after dealer if they had any H. G. Wells. Well, sure

enough, a lady from England reached below the counter and presented a mint condition set of

his two volume Textbook of Biology – 1893. This was his very first book and needless to say, rather rare. So, I paid $100 for them went home and checked them against his bibliography. They didn’t seem to match up with what the first edition should look like. Tiny, tiny, tiny. So, I took them back.

I had given in to Buyer’s Remorse. Damn!

John Charles Frémont

Fremont was an explorer and eventually became the first senator representing the State of California. In 1842, he commenced an exploration of the far west, including what became The Oregon Trail. He climbed a peak in the mountains and claimed the Rocky Mountains and the West for the United States.

In 1974, Glenda and I had returned from England to live in Saint John. We had just started our book collecting journey when we went to Halifax for a visit. We were wandering around the Halifax Citadel district and went into an antique store. Where I spotted a first edition of Frémont’s travels including a valuable fold out map of his explorations. It was only something like $5.00. But we had about $2.00 between us and no credit card. So, we returned to Saint John and I researched Frémont and realized how important that book was. I called Glenda’s sister to ask her to get it for us but, alas, it was gone.

And now you know why no photos accompany this musing.