Bookstores of New York: Books of Wonder

Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street, New York, New York
Date visited: 07.31.09

This past summer, Kakaner and I, plus another friend, went on a mini-tour of several independent bookstores in New York City. Chief among our destinations was Books of Wonder, which specializes in children’s and fantasy books, both new and collectible. I’d first seen some of their items at the New York Antiquities Book Fair in the spring, which is a subject for another entry, but I’d been enchanted even then by their gorgeous editions and collection of original cover art. Their actual location proved to be just as much fun.

My house will probably look like this one day.

The actual façade wasn’t much to look at, minus their charming logo (seen on the blue banner), which features Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Scarecrow, and a dragon all reading books. squee.

Inside, the ambiance isn’t all that fantastic either (exposed ceilings, greyish walls and carpet) – except, of course for the contents. Above is a shot of some of their new titles.

And here’s the Giant Wall of Framed Original Art. (Links lead to fullsize versions of each photo for your optical indulgence.)

Michael Hague, Paul O. Zelinsky (Rapunzel), Troy Howell (Redwall 10th anniversary art)…!

Close-up of the beautiful Zelinsky piece (“Your singing was so beautiful” – only $35,000, of course), plus David Wiesner’s cover art for Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising. I honestly hate his cover art, which was for the paperback boxed set edition, but it was still damn cool to see it in real life.

Emily Arnold McCully’s Mirette on the High Wire! Sigh, my childhood.

And then there are the ranks of rare and collectible editions, behind glass and under lock and key. The employee in charge of them at the time of our visit didn’t seem to know anything about the books, and largely stared at us in mild bewilderment while we proceeded to enthuse (to put it lightly) over nearly every book on the shelves.  This was was a bit disappointing, since I love getting to chat with knowledgeable and similarly excited dealers, but in any case… I neglected to take a picture of all the shelves, but here were a few of our most-ogled selections.

Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place! John Bellairs! The Indian in the Cupboard!

Sharon Creech, Susan Cooper… cue swooning. I’ve really been craving original hardcovers of the Dark is Rising series, too. (Stemming, in fact, from my dissatisfaction with the previously mentioned eyesore of a boxed set edition.)

Anybody have a spare $16,500 for this signed special edition of The Lord of the Rings? No? Me neither. More sighing.

And finally, the book that Kakaner walked out of the store with, and which should not be a surprise to anyone who knows anything about our reading history…

First edition (though not first printing), signed. Cool.

Go to:
Books of Wonder

7 thoughts on “Bookstores of New York: Books of Wonder”

  1. Yay, Jonathan Strange! My copy is from London and is red. Both this facts make me happy.

    I’m drooling over the Zelinsky art. WANT. If only I had $35,000.

  2. It is now a new life goal to one day have artwork on those walls!
    With all the Jonathan Strange sqeeing going one…I need to amazon* it!

    *Can we use “amazon” as a verb yet? Silly Internets making up new words…

  3. Maureen – Yaaay, mutual JS&MN fandom! I should nudge Kakaner to do a post one day with all of her editions of JS&MN (this was the fourth or fifth she’s purchased, no joke) – she has a red one as well, though not from London. Nifty!

    Agreed re: Zelinsky art. I always loved children’s books with detailed, jewel-like art like his. It was pretty flabbergasting to see all the detail in person, and realize just how much time would have go into every page of one of his books.

    Anda – Haha, Amazon as a verb would definitely be a useful shorthand. And yes, you should read Jonathan Strange, stat. Provided you like footnotes and English humo[u]r.

  4. Indeed! I feel I definitely need to make a JSMN post… and I think I shall chronicle Emera and my insane quest to MEMORIZE jsmn in high school….

    more on that later

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