We’ve recently been featured twice in the Fine Books and Collections blog and I thought I would also include these posts here. The first is a nice review of our recent catalogue and the second is an interview with us for the series Bright Young Things, which focuses on the next generation of booksellers.
Catalogue Review: Raptis Rare Books, #1
By Rebecca Rego Barry
Matthew Raptis is a congenial young bookseller in Brattleboro, Vermont. I had the pleasure of meeting him last year at a book fair. From his age and his casual personality, you might not guess that his stock is exceptional high points of modern literature. Some examples: a $550,000 Great Gatsby (inscribed, in the elusive jacket); a $45,000 signed first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; a $27,500 Catcher in the Rye, in an unrestored fine dust jacket; and a $25,000 signed first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird in a very good dust jacket.
With full color illustrations and clear descriptions, this first catalogue is delight to look at. There are 77 pages, brimming with books, so this review is just the tip of the iceberg. I enjoyed seeing some out-of-the-box titles like Ernest Callenbach’sEcotopia ($1,500) and Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Losers ($1,250). A first edition of Gregory Maguire’s 1995 book, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, is signed with a line from the novel and a drawing of a witch ($650). Very cool!
The signed first edition of John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman ($950) is tempting (because I love that novel) even if the jacket on the signed first edition ofThe Magus is prettier ($2,000). A signed first edition of Stephen King’s The Shining would be a neat acquisition ($3,000).
A complete set of Dick Francis–forty volumes, all signed–is impressive ($19,500), but for me not quite as enticing as the John Updike collection of first editions of each of the four Rabbit books ($2,750).
In the second half of the catalogue, there are sections on literature and children’s books–neat to see a signed first edition of The Outsiders there ($3,250)–as well as photography, and a non-fiction section with many modern economic and political titles. I couldn’t do it justice by naming a few here. Take a look for yourself — there is so much to see! Download it here:https://www.raptisrarebooks.com/catalogues.php
Bright Young Things: Raptis Rare Books
by Nate Pederson
Our series profiling the next generation of antiquarian booksellers continues today with Matthew and Adrienne Raptis of Raptis Rare Books in Brattleboro, Vermont. They recently released their first catalogue, which we reviewed last week on the blog.
NP: How did you both get started in rare books?
AR: Matthew started collecting books when he was a young child. He was very interested in history, particularly the American Civil War, and started with a small collection of antiquarian books. His collection grew over the years to encompass many other fields, from literature to photography. The business in rare books was a natural development from his passions.
I came into the business by virtue of being married to Matthew, so it was less of a direct journey. My degrees are in the sciences, but I have always loved books and read voraciously. A funny thing is that I used to pretend when I was a child that I was a bookseller. We actually came across a photo this past year after we returned from the San Francisco book fair that shows me with my books fanned out in a very similar way to how our books our displayed when we are at a fair. It must have been destiny because I love this business and being surrounded by such amazing pieces of history.
NP: When did you open Raptis Rare Books?
AR: We officially became a business in 2003 and joined the ABAA/ILAB in 2008.
NP: What does Raptis specialize in?
AR: We try to have a stock of landmark books in all fields, but we specialize in literature (particularly modern first editions), children’s books, economics, photography, architecture, and signed and inscribed books.
NP: What roles do each of you play within the company?
AR: Matthew does almost all of our buying. He has an uncanny ability to find great books. He seems to have an intuitive ‘sixth sense’ about knowing where to look and what to buy. We have both travelled extensively and wherever we go, whether it be South Africa, Russia, or western Massachusetts, he always comes home with treasure. He also does most of the communication with our clients.
I mostly do the ‘behind the scenes’ work of our business, such as organizing information for book fairs, the website, and putting together our catalogue.
NP: What do you love about the book trade?
AR: There are many things we love about the trade. It is a very unique business to be in – it changes from day to day and we are always learning and growing. It gives us a great deal of flexibility and we are blessed to have the opportunity to view and handle exciting objects of art and literature. We enjoy doing book fairs, particularly in meeting up with colleagues and clients who share the same passions.
NP: Favorite or most interesting book you’ve handled?
AR: That is a hard question because so many books are interesting in their own way. One book that we just purchased is the most interesting to me right now – it is a first edition of Profiles in Courage nicely inscribed by John F. Kennedy to fellow Massachusetts Senator Leverett Saltonstall. Association copies like this are always interesting not only because they are rare, but also because of the importance of the history of these items.
NP: What do you two personally collect?
AR: Our personal collection is quite varied, but we’ve recently been purchasing more and more fine bindings and vellum.
NP: Any thoughts on the future of the book trade?
AR: Although I think the used book market is hurting more with the invention of reading devices such as the Kindle and Nook, it seems that the collectible book market is actually getting somewhat stronger in our experience. I think people have even more nostalgia for the physical book now and creating a good library will always be in fashion. We meet many young people at book fairs who are extremely interested in rare books. It is always enjoyable to talk with them and see the enthusiasm they have.
NP: Tell us about assembling your first catalog and how to get a copy:
AR: Putting together our first catalogue was quite an exciting endeavor and we’ve received very good feedback on it, including a nice review in Fine Books & Collections.
You can download a copy of our catalogue online by going here.
You can also request a hard copy by calling us at 802.579.1580 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org .