Beware the Bouquiniste!

Beware the Bouquiniste!

Don Vincente wanted just one thing: to own the sole surviving copy of Furs e ordinations, printed in 1482 by Lamberto Palmart, Spain’s first printer. Vincente ran a Barcelona bookshop stocked with books he’d plundered from ancient monasteries, including the one near Tarragona where he once lived as a monk. When the Furs finally came up for auction, he bid everything he had, but it wasn’t enough. The book went to his rival Paxtot, whose house mysteriously burst into flames a few nights later. The bookseller burned to death, but the precious Furs was discovered unharmed in Vincente’s shop. At the trial, Don Vincente’s lawyer produced a second copy of the rare book. “You see,” he argued convincingly, “the one in Vincente’s shop was not necessarily Paxtot’s.”

“Execute me now!” moaned Don Vincente. “My copy is not the only one!”

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A Freedom of Books

A Freedom of Books

When Maya Angelou was eight, a lady took her to the local black school library. The shelves held some 300 books, ragged copies donated from the white school and rebound with shingles covered in pretty cloth. “I want you to read every book,” the lady said.

“I don’t say I understood those books, but I read every book, and each time I would go to the library, I felt safe.”

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Because sometimes the world moves too fast for books.

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As I wrote Gutenberg’s Fingerprint, I thought a lot about books, what they are, what they mean, why I love them, how they are changing and how they are becoming what they started out to be. The brain doesn’t turn off when an editor says “Stop!” so in Books UnPacked, these thoughts spool on, exploring the past and future of books, and the actual books I’m unwrapping to read.

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