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Andrew Kiraly The Book Hunter Tales of high adventure and belletristic intrigue from the most unlikely bookstore in Las Vegas portrait by christopher smith Foreword: Before We Begin, Consider This Irony Go on, bemoan the slick advent of the digital world with its Tweeting and iPads and video embeds and those countless other apparent disses of the printed word. David Bauman, owner of Bauman Rare Books in the Shoppes at the Palazzo, is quietly sanguine about it all as he floats among the store’s burnished shelves and heavy tomes. “Books are becoming artifacts,” he says without dismay or surprise. “More and more people do their reading on a screen. But that means books on paper are actually becoming more valuable. The Origin of Species was published in a first edition of 1,250 copies. It sold out in one day. And it is really, really rare. You can imagine, of those 1,250, how few survived the wars and floods and so on and so forth. Compare that with many other things, and people are realizing the tremendous rarity of these things — and the fact they survived.” Or take Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica — you know, that breezy little cornerstone of physics — which Bauman is fond of invoking. He estimates that its first print run was probably not more than 300. That’s like a modest Twitter following. David Bauman is lord of a shrinking kingdom that only grows in value. Desert Companion 59 T h e B o o k H U NTER

Desert Companion July-August 2010

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