Bullpen bookclub – Zempel's First editions

First editions: a guide to indentification. Edward N Zempel and Linda Verkler. Peoria:Spoon River Press, 1995, 8vo, red cloth hardcover, 515pps.

Another one of my take to my grave volumes. Alas the 1995 edition, seems to be the last time this lovely book was revised. Inexplicably it has lost ground to Bill McBride’s First edition Identifier. The popularity of the latter doesn’t surprise me as it is a terrific tool, especially now in the digital edition. But the lack of mention about Zempel’s disappoints me. It’s like comparing the text book and the cliff notes version. McBride’s may help you identify a books’ first occurrence, but Zempel’s tells you how it got that way. Documenting the long winding parentage of publisher’s imprints – when Boni met Liveright or John Farrar’s migration from Farrar and Rinehart to Farrar Strauss and Giroux gives one a better sense of publishing history. Maybe I’m just a geek, I like knowing the WHY of things. In the age of bookselling by consensus – where folks only know what they learn on the internet has encouraged lazy minded booksellers. How do YOU know the folks your are cribbing from know their ass from a hot rock? You don’t. You are taking it on faith that the information you are gleaning from online listings is for the most part correct. I was both enraged and amused the other day when a newbie online sellers asked for directions to websites where they could learn bookselling. It’s the kind of question that makes me grind my back teeth. How sad it is to expect to learn about books from computers. The place to truly learn the trade of bookselling is from other books.

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