Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Interview with Author Rebecca Rego Barry
Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places
1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
This book was really my editor’s idea, so I can’t take credit for it, but the idea of the ‘great find,’ is something that’s always in the background for people who collect, whether it’s art, antiques, or rare books. Just as some collectors have a story about ‘the one that got away,’ so do some have a story about uncovering a treasure in an unlikely place. So this book really resonates with collectors.
2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader?
It’s a collection of stories about people who found incredible rarities (books, manuscripts, or related ephemera) in what I called ‘unlikely places,’ by which I mean thrift shops, attics, flea markets, etc. — much like the PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow.” Certainly avowed book collectors make up part of my target audience, but the book is not written in the jargon of a hobbyist, it’s written for someone who loves books and history, enjoys browsing the odd yard sale, and gets a kick out of spotting a diamond among stones.
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?
This book does have a mantra, taken from the great bookseller/author/collector Larry McMurtry’s novel, Cadillac Jack: “Anything can be anywhere.” For collectors of any stripe, it’s a driving force, because, as we hear in the news just about weekly, astonishing books, manuscripts, and pieces of art are still being discovered. And for most of the people I interviewed, the potential jackpot was secondary to the thrill of the hunt.
4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
Set a word-count goal! I’m one of those writers who is motivated by word counts. For much of this project, writing 500 words per day gave me a feeling of accomplishment and kept me on deadline.
5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
One of the trends I admire is the return to beautiful (trade) books, either in the form of decorative covers or dust jackets and endpapers, or just in the use of more illustrations. It would be cliche to call it a response or a backlash to ebooks, but there is something to be said for being able to hold in one’s hand this object both useful and beautiful, to take from William Morris. The printed book is such a perfect piece of technology, it’s hard to beat.
6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book?
My biggest challenge was probably the same as everyone else’s: time. While I was writing this book I was editing Fine Books & Collections magazine and writing articles here and there for other magazines. Plus, having a life and family. I really had to focus during working hours. Hence the word-count quotas!
7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
It’s a zippy read where you get to learn odds and ends about books, authors, and history, if that’s your cup of tea. The other nice thing about it, I’ve been told by a few readers, is that you don’t have to read start to finish. There are 56 individual stories in the new paperback edition, and you can dip in and out, depending on how much time or energy you have, or what subjects appeal to you personally.
For more info, please see: http://rebeccaregobarry.com/
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