NEWBERRY — Old and rare books were laid across the table at the Friends of the Newberry County Library annual meeting Sunday afternoon as Randy Berry discussed what makes a book rare and unique.
Berry is the owner of Books on Main in Newberry and while he professed to not being an expert, he did offer advice to people who had questions about whether they have rare books and how to identify rare books.
Berry first pointed out that an old book is not necessarily a rare book. Although if it’s hard to find, then it’s most likely rare, Berry said.
There were books that were printed in Newberry and Berry had one — first edition — about the Kershaw Brigade but sold it.
While first editions tend to be rare books a lot of times, Berry said in the case of the book Moby Dick, most of the first editions were destroyed in a warehouse fire so the second edition is also a collectible.
“Controversial books do tend to be rare books,” said Berry, “because they tend to be destroyed.”
When it comes to dust jackets, there are pluses to keeping the jacket on good condition as Berry points out that dust jackets definitely increase the rarity.
“They were meant to protect the book during shipping and then when they arrived, the book stores would destroy them,” said Berry.
Another aesthetic that helps with the rarity is the binding of the book as well as the condition.
“A rule of thumb is this: condition, condition, condition,” said Berry.
Pictures and art can also make a book more rare. Berry showed a copy of a fourth edition Rip Van Winkle, explaining that the book was rare because of the artist.
When Berry needs to find out information, he turns to a website called www.abe.com which is also what he uses to buy or sell rare and hard to find books for his store.
“You can find a lot of information on the Internet about rare books,” said Berry.
In order to keep books rare and in good condition, Berry suggests keeping them out of moisture and sunlight.
One of the most collectible but not as expensive books are children’s books, Berry said. He went on to tell of a book he enjoyed as a kid and that means a lot to him although it’s not expensive.
“Sometimes books are only collectible because of where you live. For example, Newberry books,” said Berry.
In the business meeting, the Friends group nominated new officers. The new president for the year are Jan Wicker and Faye Halfacre. The vice-president is Candy Hawkins and the secretary is Susan Schumpert.
The Friends group also has their annual Literary Luncheon coming up April 4. This year, they welcome Karen White and they are having the event at Central U.M.C.’s family center. Tickets are available now.
There is also an open house celebration for the Whitmire War Memorial Library Feb. 10 from 10 to noon. The library finished completion with their new computer labs for the residents.
Audrey Henry also gave an update on the past year. She said that the Friends group worked with Newberry County First Steps in donating books as well as their past literary luncheon with Hope Clark as well as an extra author event with Dorothea Benton Frank at the Opera House.
They also helped with computer furniture at the Whitmire library, book sales and helping with replacing children’s computers and 16 computers in the Newberry library because of the age.