Hello, blog readers… if you’ve found this page, then you’re officially bored, and that certainly won’t change over the course of the time you spend here. I have another blog on Myspace that contains many irreverent ramblings about things I see and do, so I decided to focus this WordPress page on my near-obsessive book collecting habit.
Quick note: the web address of this blog (“Chance Press”) refers to the small press I one day hope to start with the lovely, extremely talented Justine Rubyred… but that’s a few years into the future, so for now, you get this.
Tonight, I took a gamble and bought a couple books by Luigi Serafini, my favorite artist and the subject of a mild global cult following. Serafini is the author of the Codex Seraphinianus, a bizarre encyclopedia of an alien (alternate?) world, written in a totally made-up script. Google it and enjoy the fuck out of yourself in the process. There are 4 major editions of the Codex: the original, published in 2 volumes in 1981 and signed by Serafini (goes for around $4000 and up), the first-US, published in 1983 (released concurrently with the first German and first Dutch editions), the 2nd edition, published in 1993(with additional material and a neat-o preface-o by Italo Calvino), and the 3rd edition, published in 2006.
In 2007, an Italian art gallery held a Serafini retrospective, and they released a really nicely designed catalog, complete with tons of essays I can’t read, because I’m too stupid to have realized that I would someday be smitten with an Italian artist and would then buy a catalog of a retrospective of his work at an Italian art gallery complete with tons of essays that I would want to read, and I never learned Italian. Still, I had to have the book as soon as I heard of it, especially because I thought it might contain a picture of Serafini’s painting of little children feeding wind-up toy alligators (it does). The book was $90 in the US, which seemed inflated, except that it is published at 44 Euros (god I hate Euros right now), and with shipping from Europe, that seemed about what I would have to pay for it if I tried to convince some Italian bookstore to send it to me.
I got it, and it didn’t disappoint me, although I started to think that I could turn it around on eBay for a profit. I mean, there is literally only one bookstore in the US that imports it (and despite the obvious website, http://www.artbooks.com, it’s not very well known and doesn’t even advertise a catalog on AbeBooks), and there is a decent Serafini following here that would want this book. It has momentarily occurred to me that I’m taking advantage of people by finding something cheap and reselling it for more (not to mention the fact that I could be accused of fleecing the nice bookseller offering this book at a fairly reasonable price), but I decided that I should be entitled to at least SOME form of compensation for the ridiculous amount of time I spend researching used books online… I mean, if no one else seems to be able to find this book online and would rather buy it on eBay, who am I to stop them from doing so?
So the book ended up selling for $170, which exceeded my expectation. I of course bought a replacement copy, but tonight I decided to take another trip to the well and buy a 3rd copy that I will again try to sell on eBay. We’ll see if the magic happens again. God damn this blog must be boring! Well, onward and upward…
I also bought a copy of the 3rd edition of the Codex Seraphinianus for $145 (again a fairly reasonable price). This one is more common to find, but I’m still going to try to sell it for profit, or at least to get my money back. My main interest in buying it is a booklet that supposedly ships with the book called “Decodex”. Again supposedly, this booklet contains Serafini’s own remarks, allegedly the first that he has ever issued about this book. It will be in Italian, but in case I meet an Italian who gets a tingling sensation when thinking about translating books for strangers, I feel that I need to have it. Plus, the 3rd edition contains even more plates that weren’t in the first two editions, so who knows… I may like it so much I have to keep it and buy another one to try and sell. And this is how it goes. I’ll probably spend about 10x the amount of time it took you to read this blog mulling over that very question.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the gripping saga so far. I guarantee you that it will continue and I promise that it will never become more interesting.