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Collecting Rare Books and First Editions: Norman Mailer

Mailer has enjoyed great public esteem, exceeded perhaps only his own opinion of himself, ever since his first book The Naked and The Dead was published in (1948). The book is notorious for the cheapness of the materials employed in its construction, and don't be surprised when you have to pay a chilling premium for a truly fine copy. However, just because a dealer says its a truly fine copy, don't accept it at face value. Among its usual flaws are extensive rubbing to the bottoms of the boards (which seems to have a thinner skin than George W. Bush at a Mensa meeting), and tanning to the white lettering on the spine.

Published on 22 Feb. 2018

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By Tom Congalton


Mailer has enjoyed great public esteem, exceeded perhaps only his own opinion of himself, ever since his first book The Naked and The Dead was published in (1948). The book is notorious for the cheapness of the materials employed in its construction, and don't be surprised when you have to pay a chilling premium for a truly fine copy. However, just because a dealer says its a truly fine copy, don't accept it at face value. Among its usual flaws are extensive rubbing to the bottoms of the boards (which seems to have a thinner skin than George W. Bush at a Mensa meeting), and tanning to the white lettering on the spine. The book needs to have the publishers logo – an "R" in a circle on the copyright page – accept no substitutions. It also seems to be a book that attracts jackets switched from later printings. A mimeographed offprint, The Foundation (1943 or 1944) is seldom seen. Because of the popularity of the first book, most of Mailer's other books were published in plentiful numbers and can be found in acceptable condition with a little diligence.

The tip is published by permission of Between the Covers Rare Books, Inc. Thank you very much.

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