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.

February 2014

Mein Kampf signed by Adolf Hitler up for auction
Autographed editions of Nazi leader's manifesto, dedicated to German SS officer, expected to fetch $25,000 in Los Angeles ... more  Add a comment

John Lennon collection to be auctioned
More than 100 of the artist's creations, previously owned by London publisher Tom Maschler, will be sold at auction in June, with Sotheby's expecting to raise more than £78,000 ... more  Add a comment

French booksellers pose naked
After a French children's book which set out to remove stigma around nudity by featuring drawings of everyday people getting undressed drew the ire of France's UMP party, a group of publishers and booksellers decided to register their displeasure - by posing naked ... more  Add a comment

Silent Surface
To many bibliophiles, there's nothing more heavenly than the warm, dusty smell of an old book. While many companies have tried to replicate the rich scent, none have integrated it as well as London-based artist Paul Schutze, who is using the scent to heighten the senses in his new exhibit ... more  Add a comment

Rare books dealer Scholium to float on AIM market
Rare books dealer Scholium, run by a member of the family behind university bookshop Blackwell’s, is to float on the stock markest. It plans to raise £10million by placing new shares in a deal valuing the company at between £16million and £20million ... more  Add a comment

My perfect weekend
Elizabeth Haycox, 56, the owner of Richard Booth's Bookshop , has always enjoyed working Saturdays ... more  Add a comment

The Alphabet Library: an A to Z of forgotten books
In a new column in association with, Tim Martin recalls Ariel, a 'romance biography' of the poet Percy Shelley and the first volume published by Penguin Books ... more  Add a comment

Beautiful Science
Wearing my hack's hat this week, in my guise of reporter-at-large for the ABA website and newsletter. Off to the British Library, always a pleasure of course, but specifically there on this occasion to take in the press view of a brand-new exhibition: Beautiful Science ... more  Add a comment

Algorithmic book pricing and its implications
I was recently asked to offer comments on the issue of algorithmic book pricing for the newsletter of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association.  The issue where the comments appear has now just arrived in the mail.  Since the ABA newsletter reaches only a limited audience and has no online version I thought I should reproduce the text here, in case it might be of interest to others ... more  Add a comment

Anne Frank's Diary vandalised in Japan libraries
More than 100 copies of Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl have been vandalised in public libraries in Japan's capital Tokyo, officials say ... more  Add a comment

Indie New Bookshop numbers fall below 1,000
The number of independent bookshops in the UK has fallen below 1,000 for the first time since records began. According to the Booksellers Association's annual membership figures, 67 indies closed in 2013 and 26 opened, leaving the overall number of indies on the high street at 987, down from 1,028 in February 2013 ... more  Add a comment

Breakthrough in unlocking the Voynich Manuscript?
An applied linguistics professor from the University of Bedfordshire claims to have begun to unlock the secrets of the enigmatic 15th century Voynich Manuscript. Professor Stephen Bax says he has decoded 10 words using an analytical approach, and hopes that his breakthrough could lead to more ... more  Add a comment

The most amazing scientific diagrams in history
For many, the rise of the infographic is linked to the digital age. Yet a new exhibition will show scientists and statisticians have used images to explain data for centuries, including Edmund Halley and Florence Nightingale, who used a diagram to help drive through health reform ... more  Add a comment

William Burroughs' opposite number: Maurice Helbrant
Narcotic Agent, the undercover policeman's memoir, originally published back-to-back with Junky, is an intriguing reverse angle on addiction ... more  Add a comment

The photography of love
A touching exhibition of pictures of his wife and family by the acclaimed American photographer Art Shay celebrates the joy of a life spent in love ... more  Add a comment

George Bernard Shaw blows his horn
A dramatic account of the perils and frustrations of the early days of motoring written by George Bernard Shaw has come to light. A previously unpublished letter written by the Irish playwright in 1909 reveals that he was an "early adopter" of the automobile when it was still a relatively new-fangled invention ... more  Add a comment

From a forgotten box, a ray of light
This story begins in 1973 with a man in Wales tidying up the mess in his garage and discovering a box of daguerreotypes. Uncertain whether to throw it out, he waited until his brother-in law asked advice from a friend who was a photographer and documentary filmmaker. The friend, Noel Chanan, strongly advised him to hold tight onto a box that must be brimful of history ... more  Add a comment

JRR Tolkien advised by WH Auden to drop romance
WH Auden attempted to persuade JRR Tolkien to drop the romance between Aragorn and Arwen from the storyline of The Lord of the Rings, describing it as "unnecessary and perfunctory", an unpublished letter by the author has revealed ... more  Add a comment

Lucian Freud letters and drawings up for auction
Unpublished letters and drawings by the young Lucian Freud are to be offered at auction in London beside a major portrait he painted later in life ... more  Add a comment

Bailey's Stardust, National Portrait Gallery
Vital and alive, and only rarely mawkish: David Bailey's portraits of the famous and not-so-famous ... more  Add a comment

Younger book dealers dive into the antiquarian trade
Events like this weekend's California International Antiquarian Book Fair and an online presence are key to the new generation of book dealers ... more  Add a comment

Charlie Chaplin's previously-unknown only novel
A virtually unknown novel by Charlie Chaplin is now being made public for the first time. The comic actor's only novel is titled 'Footlights' and is believed to be the basis for his film 'Limelight' ... more  Add a comment

Recycled carved book sculptures
Utilizing various recycled phone books, newspapers, books, and magazines as his medium, New York-based artist Long-Bin Chen is able to transform them into remarkable sculptures ... more  Add a comment

Jamaica Inn for sale
Daphne Du Maurier's Jamaica Inn is for sale. It has an irresistible mix of smuggling, intrigue and literary history ... more  Add a comment

Rothschild Prayerbook sells for $13.6 million
The 67-page book - once owned by the Rothschild banking dynasty but stolen by the Nazis - was bought by a European collector bidding by phone ... more  Add a comment