The Collectors Auctioneer  


Fine Books  ♣  decorative arts    


"Beatus homo qui invenit sapientiam”






Mr. McMurtry's Remarks


McMurtry on the "The Last Book Sale"....

        "The several hundred thousand books that we are putting in play constitute a kind of anthology of American bookshops past. In our forty years as booksellers we have bought twenty-six bookshops and some two-hundred personal libraries, some humble, some grand.


         So why push them out?


         Because we believe that in the book world generational migration is healthy: old pages await new eyes. Yesterday in Lubbock, Texas I found a copy of Sons and Lovers in the oil-cloth Modern Library with my bookplate in it. Twenty eight thousand volumes have my bookplate in them; they reside in my big house in Archer City, and yet this one strayed. How it got to Lubbock I'll likely never know. It's home again now; but three-hundred and fifty-thousand of it's cousins will be flooding into the great river of books that delights and refreshes. Good reading and good luck!"


McMurtry on the quality of the books....



        "Historically the highest compliment one bookseller can pay another is to say that he or she has interesting books; this implies, of course, that there can be uninteresting books.


         Having interesting books has been the raison d'etre of Booked Up Inc these forty years. We are not highspotters, although of course we have sold most of the big books by Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Joyce, Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Waugh and the like before they matured, as it were.


         Our distinction, if we have one, is not how many good books we have, but how few bad books infiltrate our stock. For bad books sift in like dust; only frequent purges can rid the stock of them; and we do purge, savagely. And cherry-picking this stock doesn't work: too few sleepers and too many good books. To prep the bidders a little I strolled around the shelves for half an hour and piled up 100 books that are both interesting and appealing. See what you think!"



McMurtry on his history with books, his stores....



          "In 1942 -- as I've mentioned elsewhere -- while playing hooky from the first grade, my cousin Robert Hilburn came into my bedroom and left me a box with nineteen books in it;  he left in a hurry, anxious, as many were then, to go fight in World War II.  I picked a book out of the box and began to read it, an ability I seemed to have acquired spontaneously.  The book was a stirring tale of the Mounties called Sergeant Silk, Prarie Scout.  I read it and then a next and another next, until I had mastered the box.

           The books were ordinary boy's books and yet that gift was probably the most significant I ever received.  I'm now seventy years beyond that day and yet one description of my life on earth would be to say that I take books out of boxes and read them.

           This accounts for the four buildings full of books you see today:  about 400,000, plus 28,000 more in my personal library, up the street a ways. 

           From reading came writing, and then bookselling.  I have culled my book stock from at least a thousand bookshops -- most of them now closed, in maybe a dozen countries.  At first, bookselling was a way to finance my reading, to which end I had shops in Houston, Tucson, Georgetown, and finally Archer City.  The great journalist and traveller Peter Hopkirk once (in his sale catalogue) mentioned that though he had an expensive education, his real education had come in 2nd hand bookshops.  So has mine, and hereabout you (at Booked Up, in Archer City) lie the fruits of my own education, which was not quite as expensive as Peter Hopkirk's.  But, as you probe the depths of this stock I hope you agree that this will do.

           And let us not worry about the death of the book -- it isn't dying, and won't."




                                                                                                                -- Larry McMurtry



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