Sunday, April 25, 2010

Gerald Matthew Museum of Un-Natural History

If you haven't checked out Matthew's Surrealist Dada Museum on Main Street in Walla Walla, you're missing out on an amazing feature of the town! Get down there and check it out. Details and more from his website...

I once lived next to the American Museum of Natural History in Manhatten in an apartment made for big parties. One rowdy night we all invaded the grounds of the museum and drunkenly agreed there was a need for a museum of un-natural history to present a less factual point of view. In fact, perhaps, a provocative, even offensive, point of view for the rare discerning few.

The moment arrived in the summer of 2001 after my first gallery show in Walla Walla, Washington left me with too many cumbersome constructions to take home, and I realized an ambition to curate a museum of my own works. A loft space became available over Tallman’s Drugs on Main Street in downtown Walla Walla for a price I could manage. I gutted the room, painted it and moved in on September 10, 2001.

Since then, I’ve been open every Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. There is no charge, and I can be persuaded to open at any reasonable hour for those who are willing to use the telephone or internet and promise to say something interesting in my guest book.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bookshop Cats

We’ve known for years that many used bookshops have cats, such as Elvira from Other Worlds Bookstore on Rhode Island. We would like to stage an unofficial Bookshop Cat Beauty Pageant and create an online gallery featuring the most interesting cats from your bookshops.

One cat will be selected as the top overall bookshop cat, based on the strength of a submitted image and a 300-word essay about your cat. But this is not a contest; we simply hope the gallery will be a bit of fun and also help generate publicity for AbeBooks and the used bookshop business. We will populate the gallery with links to your storefronts and details about the location of your bookshop, as well as to the essay itself. We will also create a gallery for other bookshop animals, such as dogs, birds or other creatures.

To participate, you must have a bookshop that is open to the public and your cat (or other animal) must spend the working day at the bookshop. We will only feature animals belonging to AbeBooks sellers and we hope to include animals from as many countries as possible, to illustrate the global nature of this business. The essay should provide interesting information about the animal’s role in your bookshop and mentioning specific books would be a bonus, since we could then link through to those listings. YouTube footage of your cat is also welcome.

Send a photo of your cat (or other shop animal) and a 300-word essay to:

Please include:
• Your name
• Your bookshop’s name
• The name of the cat (or other animal)
• 300 words about the cat (or other animal)

Featured Cat - Baz, or Basil, from Last Word Books in Olympia, Washington

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Strategic Bookselling with David Gregor

This past weekend we were proud to sponsor one of our favorite sellers, David Gregor of Gregor Books, who conducted a day-long workshop on Strategic Bookselling.

What’s “Strategic Bookselling,” you ask? To truly get an answer to this, you need to take David’s workshop – but in a nutshell, it’s learning how to sell books – professionally, strategically and successfully.

Strategic Bookselling by Dave Gregor

Seats were limited for this popular workshop to sell books strategically - as a business.

David started with a proclamation that I thought rang particularly true:

  • If you are selling books as a hobbyist, then your focus is all about YOU.
  • If you are selling books as a business person, then your focus has to be all about THE CUSTOMER.

There’s room in the market for both, of course – Alibris has many sellers who are just clearing out some extra books from their closet, or selling back some textbooks after the school year is over. We are happy to have them, and they serve a valuable role in the marketplace.

But strategic bookselling is critical for those who make this their business... Read More...

The Wisdom of Mark Twain

Mark Twain died 100 years ago this week. The famous old wordsmith would be thrilled to see this books remain front and center in libraries, schools and bookshops around the world. He would probably smile at hearing he is still one of the most quotable authors to ever put pen to paper. There have been few better observers of people and their ways than Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Dip into Twain's writing and soak up his wit and wisdom on travel, childhood, poverty and wealth, and many other subjects.

"When I am king, they shall not have bread and shelter only, but also teachings out of books, for a full belly is little worth where the mind is starved." - The Prince and the Pauper

The world lost Mark Twain, real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), one hundred years ago but his words, wit and wisdom live on. Can there be anyone who loves literature who has not read one of his books? His impact on the literary world is still felt and his humor is as sharp as ever. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Huckleberry Finn (1884), The Prince and the Pauper (1881) and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), and his travel books remain must-reads but his bibliography is extensive and always worth investigation.

The Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain

The Autobiography of Mark Twain

”There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.”

The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrims' Progress by Mark Twain

The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrims' Progress

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”

Roughing It by Mark Twain

Roughing It

“A crowded police docket is the surest of all signs that trade is brisk and money plenty”

The Gilded Age by Mark Twain

The Gilded Age

“No country can be well governed unless its citizens as a body keep religiously before their minds that they are the guardians of the law, and that the law officers are only the machinery for its execution, nothing more.”

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

“He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it — namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain”

A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain

A Tramp Abroad

“After a few months’ acquaintance with European ‘coffee,’ one’s mind weakens, and his faith with it, and he begins to wonder if the rich beverage of home, with its clotted layer of yellow cream on top of it, is not a mere dream after all, and a thing which never existed.”

The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

The Prince and the Pauper

“When I am king, they shall not have bread and shelter only, but also teachings out of books, for a full belly is little worth where the mind is starved.”

Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain

Life on the Mississippi

“Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.”

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Huckleberry Finn

“The pitifulest thing out is a mob; that’s what an army is - a mob; they don't fight with courage that's born in them, but with courage that's borrowed from their mass, and from their officers. But a mob without any MAN at the head of it is BENEATH pitifulness”

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain

Pudd'nhead Wilson

“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”

Tom Sawyer Abroad by Mark Twain

Tom Sawyer Abroad

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”

Following the Equator by Mark Twain

Following the Equator

“When in doubt tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.”

Is Shakespeare Dead? by Mark Twain

Is Shakespeare Dead?

“The thug is aware that loudness convinces 60 persons where reasoning convinces but one.”

Books About Mark Twain

Collectible Treasures from Mark Twain

FYI - Special Collections @ Penrose Memorial Library


The Whitman College and Northwest Archives houses over 3500 linear feet of manuscript and archival material and about 10,000 rare books. Major collections include:

College Archives: Official and unofficial records, publications, select personal papers of faculty, staff, and alumni/ae, and other materials that document the history of Whitman College (chartered in 1883) and its predecessor, Whitman Seminary (chartered in 1859).

Northwest Manuscripts Collection: Manuscripts and records from individuals and organizations of significance to the history of the Walla Walla region. Materials in the collection range from the personal papers of some of the earliest missionaries in the region, including Marcus and Narcissa Whitman (1836), to records of contemporary local businesses and organizations, such as the Walla Walla Woman's Reading Club (1894-1995).

Myron Eells Library of Northwest History: Rare Pacific Northwest Americana and a growing, circulating collection of books and periodicals about the Northwest. Highlights include some of the first books printed in the Northwest at the Lapwai Mission Press (1839-45) and other early Northwest imprints.

Elbridge H. And Evelyn Clark Stuart Napoleon Collection: Books, furniture, and artifacts associated with Napoleon Bonaparte and the Napoleonic era. Highlights of the collection include a desk used by Napoleon’s surgeon on the island of St. Helena, William Mudford’s An Historical Account of the Battle of Waterloo (1816), and William Ireland’s Life of Napoleon (1822).

Vernon H. McFarlane Collection: About 130 illustrated books from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Highlights include a Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) and a number of rare atlases and Bibles.

Book Arts and Small Press Collection: Over 300 artists’ books and small press imprints, including works produced by the Dogwood Press and books created by college faculty, students, and the Whitman Book Arts program.

Collection Development Policy

The Whitman College and Northwest Archives is the institutional repository for Whitman College and functions as the final repository for the official records of the college, including college publications, institutional records, and other materials created by college employees in the course of performing their work. The archives also collects unofficial records of individuals and groups affiliated with the college, including records of student groups, personal papers and other materials created by faculty, staff, and alumni/ae, and Whitmaniana (artifacts bearing the emblem of the college).

The Whitman College and Northwest Archives collects materials documenting the history of Walla Walla region from the arrival of the first white settlers to the present. Local history records of interest include records of Walla Walla organizations, businesses, and educational and cultural institutions and personal papers and other materials that highlight important dimensions of Walla Walla history.

The Whitman College and Northwest Archives also maintains a rare book collection. Strengths of the collection include Pacific Northwest Americana, finely illustrated books from the 15th-19th centuries, and book arts. While the archives is particularly interested in strengthening these collections, all fine and rare editions will be considered for acquisition.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Newsflash! Hanford Continues to Leak Radiation Into Our Groundwater

I know this is old and common news around the valley, but I enjoyed the author's dry, wry tone.

Radioactive insects have been found near Hanford reservation

Richland, in eastern Washington, is the town that Oppenheimer built. Since the dawn of the nuclear age, the town’s largetst employer has been the Hanford nuclear reservation, which has produced virtually all of America’s plutonium. Enough to build the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.

This new industry helped the town flourish, and today about 160,000 people live near the 586 square mile reservation. 53 million gallons of nuclear waste lies buried in 177 underground tanks, each capable of holding 750,000 gallons. Some of the waste dates back to the Manhattan Project of the 1940s, and the 53 million gallons of sludge will continue to be dangerously radioactive for about 240,000 years.

The people of the town developed a sort of gallows humor about their role in the Cold War. The high school football team is called the bombers, and they wear helmets that feature mushroom clouds. But the joke isn’t very funny anymore.

The old tanks of nuclear waste have been leaking for years, releasing as much as 1 million gallons of nuclear waste into the groundwater. Some local plants, cockroaches, wasps, and ants are measurably radioactive. The nuclear waste continues to ooze underground, down toward the nearby Columbia River.

A couple of hundred miles down the Columbia are the cities of Portland and Vancouver, Washington. More than 1 million people drink water from the Columbia. A gigantic hydroelectric plant lies downstream, as well as numerous farms and recreation areas.

In 1987, Hanford stopped making plutonium, and the most expensive containment and cleanup effort in world history began. Politically connected Bechtel Corporation has been building a gigantic facility to process and store the nuclear waste. And now, almost 20 years later, it is beginning again, almost from square one.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

ABE's Most Expensive Sales in March of 2010

La Gerusalemme Liberata by Torquato TassoAbeBooks’ most expensive sales of the month list is probably the only place where you will find Herman Melville, William Shakespeare, Marc Chagall, Emily Brontë and Ted Kennedy gathered together. The Moby Dick author appears on March’s top 10 sales list courtesy of a whopping £11,446 order for his works in 16 volumes. Almost 30 years after it was first published, Codex Seraphinianus continues to fascinate readers (although you can’t actually read it). First editions of this weird book, featuring its own undecipherable alphabet, are very hard to find now but affordable reprints mean most people can still enjoy the fantasy world created by Italian artist Luigi Serafini.

AbeBooks’ Most Expensive Sales in March 2010

1. The Works of Herman Melville - £11,446
Complete in 16 volumes, this 1922 set was limited to 750 sets, this is No. 258, and contains many first printings, Billy Budd and all the poems except Battle-Pieces, John Marr, and Timoleon as well as the first British printing of Clarel.

2. La Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered) by Torquanto Tasso - £8,849
This edition of La Gerusalemme Liberata was published in 1745 and tells a largely fictionalised version of the first Crusade.

3. The Illustrated Bouquet, Consisting of Figures with Description of New Flowers by Edward George & Andrew Henderson - £8,502
Published in 1857 in three volumes and including 84 hand-coloured engravings by James Andrews and C.T. Rosenberg.

4. Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini - £3,981
First edition in two volumes published in 1981, limited to 4,000 copies and signed by the author. Arguably the weirdest book ever printed.

Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini is considered one of the  strangest books ever published.5. First English translation of the collected works of Nicholas Machiavel by Henry Nevile - £3,539
Second issue of the Nevile’s English translation published in 1680, including The Florentine History, The Prince The Discourses on the First Decade of Livy, and The Art of War as well as a number of other pieces.

6. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare with annotations and introduction by Sidney Lee - £2,620
Published in 1907 in 40 volumes.

7. Id Est, Liber Iezirah. Una Cum Commentario Rabi Abraham F. D. edited by Johann Stephan Rittangel - £2,587
The Book of Formation, published 1642. The Hebrew text of Sefer Yetzirah with the parallel Latin translation by Johannes Stephanus Rittangelius. The second Hebrew edition and the third Latin one, and presumably the first bilingual edition of this key book of Kabbalah.

8 =The Fruitful Bough by Edward M. Kennedy - £2,322
Published in 1965, one of 160 privately printed copies of this essay about Joseph Patrick Kennedy, father of John, Bobby and Ted. Presentation to Oscar Haussermen."To Oscar Haussermen who helped make made the Fruitful Bough possible with appreciation Ted Kennedy Sept 6,1965."

8 = Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë and illustrated by Balthus - £2,322
Published in 1993, this edition of Brontë's classic gothic romance is illustrated with 15 lithographic plates by Balthus. This was No. 4 of 300 copies signed by Balthus on the colophon.

8 = Drawing for the Bible by Gaston Bachelard, illustrated by Marc Chagall- £2,322
Published in 1960, Bachelard’s text is accompanied by 24 colour lithographs and 96 plates in black and white.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

WikiLeaks - Scoop This, Uncle Sam!

From Wikipedia:

Wikileaks is a website launched in December 2006 that publishes anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive documents from governments and other organizations, while preserving the anonymity of its sources. The website is run by The Sunshine Press,[1] and has said it was founded by Chinese dissidents, as well as journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the U.S., Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa.[2] Newspaper articles describe Julian Assange, an Australian journalist and Internet activist, as its director.[3] Within a year of its launch, the site said its database had grown to more than 1.2 million documents.[4] It has won a number of new media awards for its reports.

Because of fundraising problems, Wikileaks temporarily suspended all operations other than submission of material in December 2009.[5][6] Material that was previously published is no longer available, although some can still be accessed on unofficial mirrors.[7][8] Wikileaks said it would resume full operation once the operational costs were covered, and on 3 February it announced that its minimum fundraising goal had been achieved.[9]

Collateral Murder

WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded. For further information please visit the special project website

Fundraising drive

We have received hundreds of thousands of pages from corrupt banks, the US detainee system, the Iraq war, China, the UN and many others that we do not currently have the resources to release to a world audience. You can change that and by doing so, change the world. Even $10 will pay to put one of these reports into another ten thousand hands and $1000, a million.

We have raised just over $370,000 for this year (our yearly budget is around $600,000.).

The Sunshine Press (WikiLeaks) is an non-profit organization funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public. Through your support we have exposed significant injustice around the world— successfully fighting off over 100 legal attacks in the process. Although our work produces reforms daily and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the 2008 Index on Censorship-Economist Freedom of Expression Award as well as the 2009 Amnesty International New Media Award, these accolades do not pay the bills. Nor can we accept government or corporate funding and maintain our absolute integrity. It is your strong support alone that preserves our continued independence and strength.

We are releasing some time sensitive disclosures on this page until the moment of our re-launch.
15. Mar. 2010: U.S. Intelligence planned to destroy WikiLeaks, 18 Mar 2008
This document is a classified (SECRET/NOFORN) 32 page U.S. counterintelligence investigation into WikiLeaks. ``The possibility that current employees or moles within DoD or elsewhere in the U.S. government are providing sensitive or classified information to cannot be ruled out''. It concocts a plan to fatally marginalize the organization. Since WikiLeaks uses ``trust as a center of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the insiders, leakers or whistleblowers'', the report recommends ``The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could potentially damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the Web site''. [As two years have passed since the date of the report, with no WikiLeaks' source exposed, it appears that this plan was ineffective]. As an odd justification for the plan, the report claims that ``Several foreign countries including China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe have denounced or blocked access to the website''. The report provides further justification by enumerating embarrassing stories broken by WikiLeaks---U.S. equipment expenditure in Iraq, probable U.S. violations of the Chemical Warfare Convention Treaty in Iraq, the battle over the Iraqi town of Fallujah and human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay.

WikiLeaks has probably produced more scoops in its short life than the Washington Post has in the past 30 years
— The National, November 19, 2009

Anyone who cares about freedom of expression should dig deep. (...)
If you want to read the exposes of the future, it's time to chip in.

— The Guardian, January 29, 2010