Saturday, October 31, 2009

Baltimore Comic-Con; Ken Sanders and the book thief

Baltimore Comic-Con 2009
A good friend of Anne and mine is Henrik Andreasen, a Danish comics fan who comes to the San Diego Comic-Con every year. Henrik helps Anne set up our booth of out-of-print material while I'm literally a couple football fields away, in the Bud's Art Books booths. Henrik does the same thing for David Spurlock each year at the Baltimore show, and here is an excellent report, with lots of cool photos of pro artists, of this years show. Click here for the link.

I added a bit to my last post about the new R. Crumb Book of Genesis, including a link to my buddy Ken Sander's website. Speaking of Ken, a new book has just been published about his work catching a major book thief while Ken was the Security Officer for the ABAA, the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett is "The true story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession." It's quite a riveting read and I could hardly put it down once I got started. I know many of the players, including top booksellers who both were burned by this guy and who helped to put him in prison, which makes it particularly fun. The author did a fine job of capturing the various sometimes-eccentric personalities of rare book dealers, explaining the ins-and-outs of the rare book world and dug deep on what drove the fanatical thief to continually risk--and serve--jail time in order to get the rare books he coveted. Sadly, he does have a screw loose and doesn't "get it" that he's personally harming the very regular folks he's burning with bad credit cards and various scams. Like many criminals, who often don't consider themselves one, he has many convoluted rationals about why he deserves these books, even when he obviously can't--or won't--buy them like a normal person.

Interestingly, the author meets many times why him, both in and out of jail, and admits that eventually she has become part of the story, not just the impartial reporter. Even Ken, who works closely with her, at one point is so angry with her actions (she accompanies the thief to the scene of one of his crimes, Brick Row Book Shop, where the owner John Crichton recognizes him and deals incredibly well with the extremely awkward situation. Ken Sanders is so angry at her he temporarily tells her to take a hike.

Here's what famed author Larry McMurtry has to say about it: "Allison Hoover Bartlett has written a meticulous and fascinating book about a serial bookthief and the persistent sleuth who dogged him for years and finally caught him. It will be especially gripping for those of us who trade in antiquarian books, who owe much to Ken Sanders's persistence. A fine read."
-Larry McMurtry, bestselling author of Books: A Memoir and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove.

Ken would be happy to sign or inscribe a copy to you--you can contact him through the bookstore site.

Anne and I are off next week to the Houston Rare Book Show, then on to Boston for the International Antiquarian Book Show. We'll wrap up the year with a show in Pasadena in early December. Links to all these are in a previous blog--I hope to see you there if you are in the area. Drop us a note and we'll send you a free pass if we have one--or just let me know if you have any comments or suggestions about the blog or anything else...write me at