Shelf:Life - Links to what's new in the world of old, rare, and collectable books, insights into book collecting, the news stories that matter, and occasional comments by TheBookGuide.  Archived Stories.

December 2013

No News today ...
Seasons greetings to all our readers but no more news until January 2nd.  Add a comment

Book theft in Italy, with a hint of politics
For years, the books kept coming. A precious edition by Thomas More. Leather-bound volumes from the Italian Renaissance. Some stolen from the Baroque-era Girolamini Library in Naples, given as gifts to an influential longtime consigliere to former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi ... more  Add a comment

Book bannings on the rise in US schools
An anti-censorship group in America has reported a flurry of attempted book bannings in the last quarter of the year and has said there are increasing numbers of books being taken off school shelves that deal with race or sexuality or are written by "minority" authors ... more  Add a comment

The fight over the Doves
A legendary typeface gets a second life ... more  Add a comment

How Beatrix Potter self-published Peter Rabbit
The aspiring children's writer was fed up of receiving rejection letters - so on this day in 1901 she self-published a certain book about a naughty rabbit ... more  Add a comment

Naples' Girolamini: The looting of a 16th Century library
Book-lovers around the world have been helping investigators trace thousands of rare volumes looted from one of Italy's oldest libraries by a gang of thieves including the librarian himself. While most have been recovered, a number of invaluable 15th and 16th Century books are still missing ... more  Add a comment

A love letter to the Christmas card
Handwritten, heartfelt and happiness-inducing. Despite the rise of email - and 170 years after their invention - we're still sending Christmas cards. But is their survival guaranteed? And does it matter more than ever? ... more  Add a comment

PG Wodehouse's early works found
Researchers have discovered a huge trove of works by PG Wodehouse, languishing in a newspaper archive in Leeds. Experts working for the Wodehouse Reclamation Project uncovered the work in The Globe and Traveller evening paper from 1901 to 1903 ... more  Add a comment

Shaken not stirred
He may have a license to kill, but is he sober enough to shoot? British doctors who carefully read Ian Fleming's series of James Bond novels say the celebrated spy regularly drank more than four times the recommended limit of alcohol per week. Their research was published in the light-hearted Christmas edition of the medical journal BMJ ... more  Add a comment

British Library puts thousands of images online
Their faces have lain hidden between the pages of archived books for decades, only seen by dedicated researchers who made the journey to London to pluck them out. But now a series of insights into life in the past have been thrown open to the world, as the British Library has released more than a million images from its texts and published them online ... more  Add a comment

Dictionary completed after a century in preparation
The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources publishes 17th volume, finishing project begun in 1913 ... more  Add a comment

Historical texts sold for paper value
More than 140 tons of historical texts were sold to second-hand booksellers for their paper value by Turkey's National Library. The historical pieces were bought by booksellers and collectors, who then allegedly sold the texts to auctioneers at high prices ... more  Add a comment

Jane Austen portrait fetches 164,500
The James Andrews watercolour was commissioned by the novelist's nephew in 1869 and a version will appear on the new £10 note from 2017. Dr Gabriel Heaton of auction house Sotheby's said the painting had been "crucial in transforming her from a novelist into a national figure" ... more  Add a comment

Jailed book dealer cut his own throat
A flamboyant book dealer from County Durham jailed for handling a stolen edition of Shakespeare's first folio took his own life in prison, an inquest heard ... more  Add a comment

'Opening a book could kill me'
An English student has been forced to drop out of university because she has a potentially deadly allergy to books ... more  Add a comment

Norman Rockwell's 'Saying Grace' makes record price
Norman Rockwell's Saying Grace became the most expensive American painting ever sold at auction last week, fetching $46m (£28m) at Sotheby's in New York ... more  Add a comment

Why are garden books so boring?
Once upon a time I used to work in a bookshop, and the gardening section there was really big and bustling - it was one of the most important areas in the shop. The other day I met an old friend who has gone back to work in the same shop and she said the gardening books now take up just a tiny little area behind one of the tills. First I was amazed, and then I wasn't. We both agreed: there just aren't that many interesting gardening books being published ... more  Add a comment

The artful accidents of google books
"It was while looking at Google’s scan of the Dewey Decimal Classification system that I saw my first one - the hand of the scanner operator completely obscuring the book’s table of contents," writes the artist Benjamin Shaykin. What he saw disturbed him: it was a brown hand resting on a page of a beautiful old book, its index finger wrapped in a hot-pink condom-like covering. In the page’s lower corner, a watermark bore the words "Digitized by Google." ... more  Add a comment

Bruce Springsteen lyrics sheet fetches nearly $200,000
The original, handwritten lyric sheet for Bruce Springsteen's 1975 hit "Born to Run" has fetched $197,000 at a Sotheby's auction in New York. An unidentified telephone bidder won the 30-line manuscript for almost double the estimated price of $70,000 to $100,000 after the auction opened with a $40,000 bid ... more  Add a comment

John Lennon 'Class clown' detention slips sold
Detention sheets which shine a light on the classroom misdemeanours of a teenage John Lennon have sold at auction for £8,437 each ... more  Add a comment

Giant pop-up book of The Hobbit arrives in Hollywood
The pop-up book is the size of two tennis courts and is 15 metres high! It has been installed in a Hollywood hotel for five days to mark the world premiere of the second film from the Hobbit trilogy - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ... more  Add a comment

A novel tribute to Eric Gill
Designed and typeset in accordance with Eric Gill's An Essay on Typography, the debut novel from Karen Healey Wallace is a celebration of letterforms. Unsurprisingly, the book itself is a lovely object - using Gill's Joanna typeface throughout, it has 'golden ratio' margins and just wait until you see the spine ... more  Add a comment

Rare book trial in Italy exposes underworld
It was one of the most dramatic thefts ever to hit the rare-book world, the disappearance of thousands of volumes - including centuries-old editions of Aristotle, Descartes, Galileo and Machiavelli - from the Baroque-era Girolamini Library in Naples. Now, prosecutors at a trial here are trying to show how such a wholesale violation of Western cultural patrimony could have taken place ... more  Add a comment