Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson, Signed First Edition

A signed, first edition of Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son arrived the other day. This book won the 2013 Pulitzer last week, and has suddenly become quite collectible in the wake of the award's announcement.

In my opinion, the Pulitzer is really difficult to predict. Unlike the usual suspects of the Booker Prize, the Pulitzer is surprisingly "introductory" in its selection. Books like Tinkers, Olive Kitteridge, and pretty much everything since Cormac McCarthy won in 2007 for The Road have all been fairly new names in the grand-scheme of "contemporary classics" and make for a pretty collectible snag if you were able to get a signed first edition of one of the winners.

I think one could say with confidence that most prize-winning collectible transactions take place in the ten minutes after a book award is announced. I think it's an awkward and somewhat dishonest thing to take part in, but you can actually buy signed books from sellers before they realize that their stock has risen in value. Lots of online stores received signed, first editions of Adam Johnson's book from the publisher and had them listed at or close to retail price for the majority of the afternoon on the 15th. Someone with little shame and a few hours of time to spare on google could have found a stack of these to flip. I'm conflicted about this, because it seems like a terrible thing to do, but is it worse than a store marking their unsold books up to $200 because it happened to win the award? It's a tough call. I was able to get myself a copy for my library at $30 from a bookseller and I'm very pleased with it. Could they have charged more? Yes. Would I have paid more? Probably...?

Curiously, this edition of The Orphan Master's Son is signed on a tipped-in page and not on the title page like usual. This got me thinking about tipped-in signatures, and how they are potentially more "rare" than other signed copies. You could, theoretically, sign an entire edition of a book on the title page over x amount of time--but, only so many books have this extra signed page bound in.

 And, a complete number line:

Currently reading:
The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman
Song of Susannah by Stephen King

Currently listening to:
Kurt Vile, "Wakin on a Pretty Daze"

Friday, April 12, 2013

Psychopts by Christopher Wool and Richard Hell

Psychopts is a small artist's book published in 2008 by John McWhinnie and Glenn Horowitz of collaborative typographic artwork by Christopher Wool and Richard Hell. As the story goes, Richard Hell had filled a notebook of word-pairings of those moments when your eyes see a word and your brain registers another one. Psychopts collects some of the most psychologically telling instances of these, presenting them like a visual, silent Freudian slip. It's something I've notice to in my reading--for example, words like "modem" and "modern" often blur into each other when I run into them. Richard Hell, naturally, has an edgier sort of spin on this typographic parallax, coming up with combinations like "incest" and "nicest". Christopher Wool is no stranger to text-based artwork, and the two artists have come up with a fascinating body of work using degenerated xerox prints and other typographic manipulations.

Here's what "Prufrock" looks crossed with "punk rock":

My copy was signed in 2008 by both artists at an event at The Strand in New York:

And here's the colophon, detailing the various limited editions at JM&GHB produced.

Currently reading:
Fuse by Julianna Baggott
The Tragedy of Mr. Morn by Vladimir Nabokov

Currently listening to:
"Wakin on a Pretty Daze" by Kurt Vile