The Thrill of Finding the Book You Weren’t Looking For

alex atkins bookshelf booksGabe Boyers is a professional violinist who, over time, developed a passionate interest in musicians’ autographs and rare printed material. He stumbles upon rare and valuable sheet music in all sorts of places: attics, garage sales, library sales, and of course, online. Boyers is always on the hunt: “It’s hard for me to pass a garage sale and not stop. And certainly a library sale. I assume that that’s the case for many if not most dealers. That thrill of finding something that you’re not looking for, or a diamond in the rough, is impossible to deny.” In the bibliophile world, that book that you find that you weren’t looking for has many names: sleeper, unknown unknown, novel novel, stumbling book, book hunter’s prize, or serendipitous discovery. Boyers shares such a discovery when he purchased an item on Ebay several years ago. The item was listed as “Old Music Book” selling for about $25. He took a chance and ordered it. When the package arrived, he opened it and couldn’t believe his good fortune: it was a first edition of a piano vocal score of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni published in Germany in 1791. And the value of that serendipitously discovered masterpiece? $20,000. Now that’s a remarkable return on investment worth singing about!

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