I'm a lover of signed first editions. I have gone to many book readings to get books signed. Next week it's Mindy Kaling's new book. Unfortunately, before knowing better, I once gave up a first edition JK Rowling Sorcerers Stone for $100 bucks. Back then I was new to the world of collecting. I have amassed a signed paperback of Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole's mother, a signed first edition of Richard Nixon memoirs given to me by Diane Sawyer who worked as a researcher on the book (it's in pristine condition), a signed first edition of The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen and even a personalized The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks whom I interviewed. I have a signed edition of Jimmy Carter's Christmas In Plains, and a limited edition illustrated version of The Da Vinci Code, signed by Dan Brown. Would a signed Sarah Waters first British novel, Tipping the Velvet be of any value? Oh and who can forget, I have a signed book of Notting Hill by Julia Roberts, and a signed Pulitzer by Steven Millhauser's of Martin Dressler. My eclectic collection is in an all too-filled bookcase. Recently I wanted to find out their worth. I went to the elitist book store in the world, Bauman Rare Books. I told them where I had worked, as to assure them I received these books legitimately and wasn't just signing books myself. Forty-one years ago, Bauman opened a store in Philadelphia, and put out catalogues whenever they could find a moment in between running the store, attending auctions, and exhibiting at book fairs and antiques shows across the country. It was an incredibly busy, exhilarating time, according to their web site. In 1989 they opened a gallery in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and the success encouraged them to expand their presence in New York City into a full street-level storefront gallery on Madison Avenue in 1999. This in turn led to an opportunity to open their second gallery in 2008, in Las Vegas at the swank Venetian Resort. When I sent my letter of books I was thinking of giving up, the manager said to me. "Yes, we have a Nixon so we don't need another. Big deal Diane Sawyer researched the book. Nobody is buying Dan Brown now and anyway, in the email below, you said it was not a first edition. Your Confederacy of Dunces is a paperback, not even remotely collectible. Sell it on Ebay. No dealer is going to buy it. We have numerous signed copies of Jimmy Carter. There are first edition signed copies of Tipping the Velvet online for $175... which means a dealer will offer you $50, if your lucky. There are at least thirty signed Oliver Sacks books online. I can buy one there if I need one. I don't need it for stock. I recommend you take your books to the Strand." I wrote back to him. "your tastes suck." But Dave wanted the last word and said, "Oh, the fact that you...have had a long career "in the media" pretty much tells me all I need to know about your "taste"... so spare me your snarky comments." So I was crushed. I felt like all my work collecting was a waste. But then when I went home that night, I looked over at my overflowing book shelf, and I truly thought, there's no place like being near my books. See you next week Ms. Kaling.
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