A Pound of Paper by John Baxter
Confessions of a Book Addict

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In the rural Australia of the fifties where John Baxter grew up, reading books was disregarded with suspicion, owning and collecting them with utter incomprehension. Despite this, by the age of eleven Baxter had 'collected' his first book - The Poems of Rupert Brooke. He'd read the volume often, but now he had to own it. This was the beginning of what would become a major collection and a lifelong obsession.

His book-hunting would take him all over the world, but his first real find was in London in 1978, when he spotted a rare copy of a Graham Greene children's book while browsing on a stall in Swiss Cottage. It was going for 5 pence. This would also, fortuitously, be the day when he first encountered one of the legends of the book-selling world: Martin Stone. At various times pothead, international fugitive from justice, and professional rock musician, he would become John's mentor and friend.

In this brilliantly readable and funny book, John Baxter brings us into contact with such literary greats as Graham Greene, Kingsley Amis, J.G. Ballard and Ray Bradbury. But he also shows us how he penetrated the secret fraternity of 'runners' or book scouts - sleuths who use bluff and guile to hunt down their quarry - and joined them in scouring junk shops, markets, auction rooms and private homes for rarities.

In the comic tradition of Clive James's Unreliable Memoirs, A Pound of Paper describes how a boy from the bush came to be living in a Paris penthouse with a library worth millions. It also explores the exploding market in first editions. What treasures are lying unnoticed in your garage?


About John Baxter

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John Baxter is an acclaimed film critic and biographer. His subjects have included Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, and Robert De Niro. The co-director of the Paris Writers' Workshop, he is the translator of Harper Perennial's Naughty French Novels series, and is the author of Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas, We'll Always Have Paris, and A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict. He lives in Paris.
Published April 1, 2005 by Thomas Dunne Books. 433 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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The Guardian

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A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict by John Baxter 417pp, Doubleday, £15 Short of dying and finding myself in used-book heaven, I never thought I would ever find a copy of Robert Westerby's 1938 London low-life novel Wide Boys Never Work (in wrapper, preferably first edition).

Feb 08 2003 | Read Full Review of A Pound of Paper: Confessions...

Publishers Weekly

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Baxter's memoir will be of great interest to serious book collectors because so much of the book conveys the insider's perspective, but his narrative is truly amusing and rollicking enough to entice book lovers of all kinds.

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Though I do not believe in censorship, books like A POUND OF PAPER: CONFESSIONS OF A BOOK ADDICT need to be hidden from family members.

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