The 5th edition of Robert Block’s Marbles Identification and Price Guide (which I’m going to refer to as Marbles from now on because it reminds me of Mr. Marbles from Seinfeld) has just been released, with 500 color photos (400 new to the edition) of marbles. You might ask who this book is intended for, but then you’d look at its sales rank and see it’s currently outselling half of Saul Bellow’s books.
To illustrate (sales rank in parenthesis):
Henderson the Rain King (#35,344)
The Adventures of Augie March (#56,284)
Humboldt’s Gift (#72,359)
Seize the Day (#104,384)
Mr. Sammler’s Planet (#134,720)
That’s right, Marbles draws a virtual stalemate with Humboldt’s Gift, and positively crushes Herzog. My friend’s grandmother, an antiques dealer, has a previous edition–and she’s not alone. According to Nielsen BookScan, Block’s marble-related books have sold over 20,000 copies since the late 90s. That means he’s ahead of Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, this year’s Pulitzer finalist that’s just now approaching 20,000 copies sold since it’s publication in June 2011. And here’s the thing: Marbles‘s 20k number is definitely skewed downward, because you know each copy has been passed around like currency among the marble underground.
So PWxyz salutes you, Mr. Block. It seems America has not lost its marbles (ahem…sorry).