TEXTBLOCK | The bi-monthly newsletter of Weller Book Works | MAY-JUNE 2019
Thirty Years at the Used Book Buying Desk
by Tony Weller
My father Sam Weller’s methods of teaching were momentary. He was a man of action and I took as much knowledge from him as he offered me. I had assisted him with house calls to buy book collections since childhood and one day in the late 1980s, without fanfare, he said, ‘I think you’re ready to make book deals without my help now.’ Wow, did persons who know so little really get to do this stuff?

For a few years it made me rather nervous, but after handling a few hundred collections of books, I learned to navigate without the chimera of perfect knowledge. Before I fully realized that my forbears didn’t know it all and neither could I, I started analyzing the traits that affect interest in books. It quickly became philosophical, because understanding the value of books is nothing less than an inquiry into human desire tempered by less interesting factors of supply and demand. I listed traits that affected value and defined each carefully. Eventually, I discovered 17 reasons books might increase in value. With these in my pocket, I became more skilled at assessing books I hadn’t seen before. I improved my vision in the dark.

The metrics of the used book trade often frustrate MBAs and accountants. Obviously we try to buy books our customers want. Avid readers will purge their libraries from time to time. Most of the time, I hope books offered to us will be very good or very bad, because the books that fall between clear areas are the hardest to evaluate. Popular titles that have been over-published can be the most challenging. A bookseller would be foolish to not have a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone , but he or she would also be foolish to buy unattractive copies of a book one encounters frequently.

If someone has calculated the average lifespan of books, I am not aware of it. But I know that even badly made books last a few hundred years. Book production increased explosively following the industrial revolution in the 19th century. Today we make more books faster than ever before. One can find data on the number of titles published annually but the number of books printed is elusive. However, I believe it is safe to estimate that one billion new books are published each year just for the United States marketplace. That’s almost two books per citizen each year. Add these to the numbers surviving from earlier eras and you understand that each year, extant books outnumber human beings more than the year before.


Read More of Thirty Years at the Used Book Buying Desk and learn why Tony is giddy about Tokyo Stories and this Macmillan Collector's edition Leaves of Grass on Tony's Blog.
Our Best Weller's pick is
Marcia Bjornerud
Basic Books
List Price: $17.99
Our Price: $14.40

Reviewed by Chance Miller

“Like the place names on the highway map, which are a palimpsest record of human interaction with the land, rocks and landscapes are Earth’s unsystematic chronicle of its past – unintentional autobiography.” 

I am not a geologist. I know very little about the immense geologic time scale, the devastating Snowball Earth theory, trilobites scurrying over the sea floor, or the roiling Solid Earth. I probably couldn’t even tell you the “difference between granite and feldspar.” So why was I thrilled to read Dr. Bjornerud’s Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth ? I heard Marcia Bjornerud’s writing was terrific (which turned out to be an understatement), I wished to communicate more clearly with my rock-loving friends, and I’m insatiably curious, but the real reason is because Earth is the story of us. 

In a world dominated by technology, exotic, far flung adventures, and anything new, it’s worthwhile to examine the past, both shallow millennia gone by and the deep reaches of geological time. How do I know where I am and where I’m going if I don’t know where I’ve been? 

Bjornerud’s superb, subtle story takes the reader through the Tao of Earth to our modern, climatic predicament. The Earth, unlike our rocky neighbors Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the Moon, is a complex system of checks and balances that has miraculously produced tectonics, a stable climate, and a biosphere. Or is it the other way around? The Gaia hypothesis states that biospheric regulation is a lynch pin in the destructive and constructive cycle that is our only home. In this way, Earth is not just another cooling rock in the vastness of space, but a living organism capable of living, adapting, thriving, and, if we’re not cognizant, dying. 

The Earth formed four and a half billion years ago out of coalescing star dust. In the interim it has undergone cataclysmic events such as an impact with a Mars-sized planetoid (which may explain how the Moon formed), boiling and filtering, chills and sweats, and five mass extinctions, if we’re not currently living through one at the moment. Like life itself, for all of the Earth’s strengths and resilience, it is possible for one of its negative feedback loops to turn positive and spin out of control. 

From fractal geometry to the heavens above, from No Place with No Past to the bounty of stories contained within pebbles strewn upon the beach, from mechanization to the sublime, Earth and its rocks tell the story of you, me, and everything we’ve ever known. Bjornerud writes: “To write an autobiography requires consciousness of self, and this by definition precludes the possibility of creating an objective and comprehensive chronicle. The one autobiography that has been recorded with no self-consciousness is Earth’s own life story, written, very literally, in stone.” 
Staff Reviews
Barry Lopez
Hardcover / $30.00

Reviewed by José Knighton

Barry Lopez is the most thoughtfully meticulous and graceful writer you will ever read. His sentences are as elegant as a sandhill crane's precise pace across a spring meadow—its intense gaze aware of everything.

Encompassing decades of personal experience and global travel, Horizon could be referred to as a memoir, "..I saw senseless death and became witness to the breaking of every commandment I'd learned as a child, and during which I beheld things so beautiful I couldn't breathe." But Lopez's horizons extend far beyond anything as self-serving as a mere memoir or travelogue.

Of various horizons illuminated in Lopez's book many are vast and pelagic. The Pacific Ocean is prominent in several sections: a stormy, Oregon coast camp on Cape Foulweather aptly named by Captain James Cook who charted that ocean's formerly infinite emptiness, Darwin's touchstone muse of the Galapagos Islands, the deep human and brutal colonial history of Australia – and the ultimate island, the ice of Antarctica where all oceans merge and the only direction is north. At the other end of the earth Lopez muses on scant, ancient relics of human history just to the left of Greenland. In the only landlocked horizon, Lopez hunts early hominin fossils in the Great Rift Valley with indigenous Africans.

The overarching horizon, however, is the unforeseeable one, corrupted by our unnatural selections, of the human future beyond apocalyptic climate change and the Sixth Extinction. The temptation for withdrawal from "this frightening horizon," as Lopez recognizes it, is immense: "But one can choose, as well, to step into the treacherous void between oneself and the confounding world, and there to be staggered by the breadth, the intricacy, the possibilities of that world, accepting its requirement for death but working still to lessen the degree of cruelty and to increase justice in every quarter."
Anne Boyer
Ugly Duckling Presse
Paperback / $20.00

Reviewed by Kylee Hill

Michel de Montaigne invented the essay in the 16th century because his best friend died young. Étienne de La Boétie, a writer, judge, and political philosopher remembered as an early influence on anarchist thought died of dysentery at the tender age of 32. There was no one else Montaigne could talk to in the same way, so he started scribbling his thoughts down instead; five centuries later many of us are still following his lead, reading and writing essays as an alternative to living ideal lives. 

I thought of this origin story - what Montaigne’s best translator, Donald Frame called “the reader tak[ing] the place of the dead friend” while revisiting A Handbook of Disappointed Fate by Anne Boyer. It reads like a kind of palliative care for the ways modern life has gone wrong, which isn’t to say it’s ever anything less than a real pleasure too. Boyer writes with a poet’s precision and an autodidact’s sprawling range of references. With titles ranging from “No” (the opening essay of the collection, and an instant classic) to “Clickbait Thanatos” and “Formulary for a New Feeling,” and with subjects roaming from Mary J. Blige to cancer to Lucretius, these lucid, inventive, and often playful essays provide a rare experience: they remind me that within books people can think and write whatever they want, a place where there’s always more than one way to think about power and oneself in relation to it. 
Memorial Day
Monday, May 27th
We will be open 11 AM - 6 PM
Store Events

Breakfast Club with lead new book buyer Catherine Weller is every Tuesday from 10:00 - 11:00 AM at the Coffee Connection. Join her for book news and casual conversation - no reading requirement!

Lit Knit is a crafting circle held every second and fourth Wednesday of the month from 6:00 - 8:00 PM. Crafters of all kinds are welcome to join us for crafting and friendly conversation.

Collectors' Book Salon Interesting people with varying reading tastes gather at the Collectors' Book Salon every last Friday of the month from January through October. Glasses are filled and socializing begins around 6:30 PM, and at 7:15 an invited bibliophile shares her or his particular bibliopassion.
Cassy Joy Garcia, author of Fed+Fit will be in conversation with Lexi Kornbloom Davidson and Juli Bauer about her new book, Cook Once Eat All Week: 26 Weeks of Gluten-Free, Affordable Meal Prep to Preserve Your Time & Sanity .

Cook Once Eat All Week is a revolutionary way to get a delicious and healthy dinner on the table fast with 26 weeks affordable meals. Author Cassy Joy Garcia will walk you through this tried-and-true method and show you how batch-cooking a few basic components can give you an entire week’s worth of dinners with minimal time and effort.

This event is sponsored by our neighbor in Trolley Square, We Olive & Wine Bar . Present your Weller Book Works receipt for Cook Once Eat All Week and receive 20% of any purchase at We Olive.
Wesley Sasaki-Uemura, Professor of Asian History at the University of Utah will discuss the false binary between east and west by placing Eastern and Western traditions in dialogue with each other, counter-posing works such as the Bhagavad Gita with the Book of Job and the Buddhist tale of “Mulian” with Dante’s Inferno . A Q&A and refreshments will follow. The lecture is free, open to the public, and made possible by a grant from Utah Humanities.
Gregory Prince will read from his new book, Gay Rights and the Mormon Church: Intended Actions, Unintended Con-sequences . Prince draws from over 50,000 pages of public records, private documents, and interview transcripts to capture the past half-century of the Mormon Church’s attitudes on homosexuality.

Prince's avocation in history has led him to write dozens of articles and three books, including the award-winning volumes he co-authored with William Robert Wright, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, and Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History.
Join author Christopher Husberg for the launch party of the fourth book in his Chaos Queen quintet, Fear the Stars .

All parties converge on the capital city, Triah: Cinzia and the Odenites to establish their new religion and appeal against a charge of heresy; Knot and Astrid to find answers in the vampire girl's past; and Winter has come to conquer the city, at the head of a Tiellan army. But Winter is still struggling with her addictions and anger. Knot's efforts to be reunited with her can only lead to disappointment. Cinzia cannot free herself from a terrible bargain. And as battle lines are drawn, the true nature of the goddess Canta and the Odenites' final purpose will be revealed...

Be the first to read the exciting conclusion to this dark science fiction fantasy!
Collectors' Book Salon
Introduction by Tony Weller

Since their inception in 2012, we’ve hosted more than 75 Collectors’ Book Salons in which we've heard stories and learned from more than 60 bibliophiles. I meet interesting, remarkable and smart persons here, and once a month, we have a gathering for those who share esteem for old, collectible, obscure, or fancy books.

Salons start casually at 6:30 PM with socializing and light refreshments, and at about 7:15 an invited bibliophile shares her, his, or their particular bibliopassion in the Collector's Chat.
FRIDAY, MAY 31 6:30 PM
Seth Stewart will share examples of how writers have grappled with writing and talking about music throughout the centuries. Music is often considered a language, but describing it in words proves difficult. Theorists have developed technical vocabulary that waxes esoteric, while lay descriptions can be abstract and overly subjective. Drawing from his experience as a classically trained composer by day and rock musician by night, Stewart will present historical milestones of musical literature, from the cosmology-infused narratives of ancient Greece to the birth of musicology in the 18th century and modern mass media coverage of the latest pop album. 
Book Buyer, rare book conservator, and all around bibliomaniac Frank Pester will discuss the beginnings of American Conservation as seen through the lives of George Bird Grinnell, Theodore Roosevelt, and John Muir. Frank recently read Grinnell: America’s Environmental Pioneer and His Restless Drive to Save the West by John Taliaferro, and within the same time-frame acquired a collection of fine John Muir first editions. George Bird Grinnell’s life touched many of the historic personages and topics Frank collects. Grinnell attended paleontologist O.C. Marsh on his first expedition to the West. He saw the decline of the American Bison and with the magazine Forest and Stream and the support of Theodore Roosevelt started the American Conservation movement. As a collector and avid reader, Frank has immersed himself in these men’s lives and the books that tell their stories.
L-R: Grinnell (digitally added), Roosevelt, and Muir
Rare Books
A lovely circa 1865 Holy Bible. John Brown’s Self-Interpreting Family Bible with 25 brilliantly hand-colored illustrations. Beautifully bound in embossed black leather with gilt décor and edges. Tooled brass edges and clasps. In very good condition. 

John Brown's Self-Interpreting Family Bible , $650
George A. Zabriskie’s 1947 Christmas printing of his New York Historical Quarterly article on John Charles Fremont, The Pathfinder . This copy is finely bound by Zabriskie in 3/4 green leather with gilt décor, mar-bled boards and red inlay for title on backstrip. Gilt tooled edges and dentelles and a quickly colored decorative leading drop cap. Inscribed by Zabriskie as "Geo" on gift page. A few pencil notations within. Very attractive.

The Pathfinder , $200
A 1950 French Walt Disney edition of Munro Leaf’s Ferdinand the Bull . Golden Book format version with black & white and color illustrations. Rubbed edges. 

Ferdinand the Bull , $60
A great first edition copy of Latter-day Revelations by Joseph Smith, Jr., published in 1930. Green cloth with blue striations and gilt lettering. Former owner’s name is written small and neatly on the front pastedown. 

Latter-day Revelations , $120
Color prints of historic military uniforms by Peter Copeland. Printed and sold loose by The Company of Military Historians and Collectors between 1966 and 1970. 63 Brilliant 28cm x 35cm images. 

Peter Copeland Military Prints , $575
A copy of the 2001 Stand a Little Taller by Gordon B. Hinckley. Front pastedown bears a birthday inscription to former owner facing a bookplate autographed by Hinckley.

Stand a Little Taller , $60
A near fine copy of the 1922 pamphlet, Timpanogos Wonder Mountain . Brown pictorial wraps with gently bumped edges and a few spots. Published by the BYU Extension Center with the Provo Chamber of Commerce and the American Fork Commercial Club. 

Timpanogos Wonder Mountain , $75
First edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein illustrated with dramatic woodcuts by Lynd Ward. Published in 1935 by Smith and Haas. Our copy is only good and lacking dust jacket. Edges are rubbed and spine rolled. May be the best illustrated edition.

Frankenstein , $175
See something you like? Call 801-328-2586 and ask for the Rare Book department, or email rarebooks@wellerbookworks.com. We ship anywhere!
Thank you for supporting your local independent bookstore.
Weller Book Works | 801-328-2586 | books@wellerbookworks.com | wellerbookworks.com
Store hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 AM-8 PM | Friday-Saturday, 10 AM-9 PM | Sunday, 12 PM-5 PM