Elderly books –

25 Sep

With the onslaught of e-books a few years ago, a lot of folks predicted the demise of the printed page. Personally, I don’t think so.

As an example of why print on paper is so valuable, a news story appeared in many newspapers around the United States.  Basically, it said:

One of eleven known copies of the first book ever printed in North America – The Bay Psalm Book – was making an appearance at the wonderful Cleveland Public Library. Unfortunately I was unable to go see it, but I have visited the John White Collection, which is housed there, on many occasions.

While researching this topic for a bit more information than provided by the article, I was impressed by the fact that the newcomers to this continent, who really hadn’t been here all that long, thought a printing press to be a necessity! That press was brought here by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638, just a mere 10 years after the first settlers arrived. TEN YEARS and they needed and wanted an independent press. Imagine that! Furthermore, the colony already had a bookseller,  Hezekiah Usher, whose shop at that time was also located in Cambridge.

There were 1700 copies of the original version of The Bay Psalm Book produced, of which 11 still survive, although only five of them are complete.  The book, which is being offered for sale by Sotheby’s in New York, is one of two owned by the Old South Church in Boston, and it hopes for $15 to $30 million dollars, which will benefit the church’s mission and ministry.

 Proving the value of elderly manuscripts etc.,  three novels have featured the existence – or non-existence, perhaps – of the book:  David Baldacci’s 2006 thriller The Collectors; Linda Fairstein’s 2008 novel, Lethal Legacy and from 1983 (almost elderly, as well!) The Bay Psalm Book Murder by Will Harriss. This book won an Edgar for Best First Novel. However, an even earlier venture was the 1967 Detective Comics’  The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl. Here, a librarian,  Barbara Gordon, discovers Bruce Wayne, who had apparently been murdered.

 However, not to be out-done, the University of Alabama offers an e-book of the work, titled The Digital Bay Psalm Book, for $27.50 per copy. If you’re interested here’s the link:  http://www.uapress.ua.edu/product/Digital-Bay-Psalm-Book,4920.aspx

 And there we are – full circle. Or not.  Okay?  Happy writing in whichever method you prefer!

 Questions? Comments? Write to me at bookmechanicATgmail.com 






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