Faulkner-Hamlet (2)The United States continues to be a place where new things need to look old, and old things (and people) need to look new.

For example, this 2003 copy of Thomas Jefferson—Basic Writings has a dust jacket made to look old (see brown spots). It sits next to a 1940 first edition copy of William Faulkner’s The Hamlet, considered by many to be an important work in American literature—but with a dust jacket that one ABAA book dealer recently wrote was “too ruff…to be able to resell.”

What would Faulkner say about that? Perhaps: “I told you so; blame the Snopeses, with their snap-on bow ties, acting like Sartorises!”

One shouldn’t disregard shabby volumes. In his introduction to “Nostromo” (Doubleday, 1924), Joseph Conrad writes that his inspiration for the work came from “a shabby volume picked up outside a second hand bookshop.”