Friday, January 20, 2006

Short of cash? Check your bookshelves.

If you have a first edition copy of James Joyce's Ulysses (Shakespeare & Company, 1922) in good condition, you have a golden goose sitting around, my friend. The Guardian has published a list of the 100 most valuable works of fiction of the 20th century. Values range from £100,000 (roughly $177,000) for Ulysses at the top of the list to £4,000 ($7080, give or take a nickle or two) Philip Pullman's Northern Lights (Scholastic, 1995). Looks like it might be time to start rifling through those bookshelves. You never know.

Here's a little quandary. If you're recording an audiobook, how do you handle the footnotes? What if the character falls down a well? Should the your voice change? And are you true to the punctuation, breathing, pausing, lifting your voice as originally heard in the author's head? These are some of the little dilemmas facing the people who put a voice to a book. Today's New York Times has an interesting article delving into the question of how a book should sound. And aren't you glad you didn't have to record Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell? It was hard enough to follow reading all 'dem footnotes to me-own-self. Whew! (Hats off to Simon Prebble, the book's narrator.)

But whether or not you find a big-bucks book on your nightstand or wrestle with the problem of recording footnotes, it's still Friday. Start relaxing your shoulders.

Still no word about former classmate Tom Fox and the other three Christian peacemakers being held in Iraq. All is focused on young journalist Jill Carroll right now, and we pray she's released unharmed. Keep all these folks in your thoughts.


Chris said...

I listen to a lot of audio books and, do you know, it's never occurred to me. Tim Curry reading the Lemony Snicket books is very good and seems to bring out the characters (especially the children) without changing his voice too much or going 'over the top'.
I also find that if I find a book hard to read or difficult to understand, it all becomes clear by having someone else read it for me.

Chris said...

Also meant to say - one of the 'down' sides of leaving work is that you lose that lovely Friday feeling!!

MaryB said...

I don't listen to audiobooks much. Sometimes when I have a long road trip alone. It is a different experience than reading to myself. Depends on the book, I guess.

Milan said...

A first edition of Northern Lights is worth £4,000? I may very well have a couple of those back in Vancouver. (In decreasingly good condition, as they are lent to friends again and again.)

MaryB said...

So, Milan - better start reeling those loaners back in and hope the loanees haven't read The Guardian article!

And if you find you do have a first edition Northern Lights, remember - you heard it here first. (Who's yer buddy?)

Johnno said...

I've a couple of rare books mainly non-fiction.

1st signed edition of Manly Palmer Halls 1928 "The Secret Teachings of All Ages." (It's actually the 5th edition but all five printings in 1928 are considered the first).

I've also got some other signed 1st editions mainly non-fiction picked up on abebooks.

My favourite is a limited edition first run copy of Inside Out by Pink Floyd's Nick Mason signed by him and Storm Thorgenson. Got dinged in the post on its way from the UK to OZ.....damn!

And yes Ulysses 1st edition which was boxed and had a special blue leather cover is really bloody expensive!

I prefer my beat up old Penguin copy.

MaryB said...

Wish they'd publish a non-fiction list, Johnno. I have several books I'd like to check.

We have a couple of good rare books people here in Atlanta, but it's been 10+ years since I've hauled my stuff to one of them for appraisal. Might be time to do it again. (But I don't have the 1st edition Joyce.)