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A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict    by John Baxter order for
Pound of Paper
by John Baxter
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by David Pitt

Let's start by saying how lovely a book this is: small, not much taller or wider than a pocket novel, with a dustjacket featuring vintage photographs and one of those permanently-attached narrow strips of bright-coloured material so you'll always have a bookmark to keep your place.

Not, of course, that'll you'll be much inclined to close the book until you've finished it. Baxter, the noted film critic, Hollywood biographer, and novelist, is also an avid, one might almost say obsessed, book collector. A Pound of Paper is part memoir, part modern history of collecting, and thoroughly delightful.

Baxter introduces us to an assortment of fellow-collectors, from bookstore owners to private collectors to 'runners,' those bibliophiles who derive most (if not all) of their income from buying, and as soon as possible reselling, books. They're all very different people, with different lifestyles, united by a common affection for these bound collections of words.

Baxter, an elegant and thoughtful writer, captures the excitement of collecting, the thrill of the chase and the pure, unadulterated pleasure in finding that rare or unusual or simply interesting title. He acknowledges that some collectors can be a little, well, unusual, without ever making fun of them; even when he's in slightly oddball territory, he's always respectful, always aware that he's writing about someone's great passion in life.

For a book collector, A Pound of Paper is like a validation, an acknowledgement that, yes, you aren't so unusual after all. For someone new to the whole idea, it's like a grand awakening. Enjoy.

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