Do any of you remember catalogues — those paper listings of books and ephemera for sale? I know, this was a loooong time ago. You know, pre-internet, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. These paper lists used to be sent from book dealers to collectors. It was right after the pencil was invented. I used to receive at least a couple of catalogues every day. These days I receive maybe a handful every year, at best. One of the more unusual catalogues I ever received was a joint venture of Between the Covers, a rare book dealer in New Jersey, and Biblioctopus, a rare book dealer in California. Both are members of the Antiquarian Bookseller’s Association of American (ABAA).
Looks like a leather-bound book, right?
But rather than being something akin to a pamphlet listing of books, this catalogue was done in the manner of baseball cards. So, instead of the front showing a batter in his hitting stance or a pitcher about to unleash a mighty heave, this catalogue is an assemblage of cards with each card being devoted to a single book. Among the titles so offered was John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, The Call of the Wild by Jack London, No One Writes to the Colonel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and many, many others. The front of each card shows an illustration of the book in question while the verso, instead of being devoted to a baseball player’s stats, is devoted to that book’s stats.
Thus, it shows place of publication, date, edition, binding style, condition, and, of course, price. Below that is text about the book. All the cards were wrapped within an outer card that makes the whole appear to be a leather-bound tome. This was all housed within a Lucite snap-case. Cool? Way cool.