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Monday, July 16, 2012

McMurtry selling 300,000 books

The Wall Street Journal reports on an epic author-book-sale

Author Larry McMurtry has been gathering books around him for more than five decades. Along the way, he has filled his four-building bookshop with 450,000 titles and turned his hometown of Archer City, Texas, into a destination "book town." Now, at age 76, he's finally letting some of his collection go. "I think it's time they enter back into the great river of books," he said.

On Aug. 10, the novelist and screenwriter will auction off more than 300,000 books at a two-day event he's calling "The Last Book Sale." (Mr. McMurtry's novel "The Last Picture Show" was made into a movie of the same name.) The books will be auctioned off from the shelves of his bookstore, Booked Up, in groups of about 200, each containing several valuable books.

Mr. McMurtry, who built his inventory by buying up the stock of secondhand bookstores and personal collections around the country, said he also has selected 100 books of special interest to him for individual auction. Among them: a very early Navajo autobiography and a novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky's daughter. Of the latter, Mr. McMurtry said, "I've never seen it before or since." He has no estimate on how much the overall event, to be conducted by Addison & Sarova Auctioneers, will raise.

In 41 years as a bookseller, the author has cultivated a collection that values the interesting over the rare or pricey. "A book doesn't have to be expensive to be appealing, and a lot of books that are expensive are not appealing," he said. Without due diligence, though, "bad books just sort of sift in, like dust," said Mr. McMurtry, who purges his collection at least once a year.

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