October 24, 2008

Does Jay Walker Give Out Library Cards?

What makes a satisfying home library? Books, obviously, but one must have the right KIND of books. And even then, a huge library built of mere paperbacks is an unsatisfactory thing. One needs an agreeable ratio of hardbacks, first editions, limited print runs, and signed copies to make the paperbacks palatable.
Sprinkling in interesting artifacts can also enhance a book collection, giving it that neo-museum vibe. With this in mind, take a gander at Jay Walker's library. As an insanely wealthy Internet entrepreneur (he founded websites like Priceline.com) Walker could afford to have his library built to exacting specifications. For example, if you look above, you can see that his library has an original Sputnik 1 satellite hanging from the rafters. Nice.

Steven Levy got to write up Walker's library for Wired, (lucky rotter!), and his tour covers all three levels and 3,600 feet of Walker's jewel-embossed books, historical tomes, and first editions from the first printing presses. La biblioteca has more esoteric ephemera too, like a “framed napkin from 1943 on which Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined his plan to win World War II.”
I'd happily settle just for this reading alcove. Toward the window, that’s not a book, it’s a sculpture. Foreground: Andrea Cellarius's hand-painted celestial atlas (1660). If that's too old school for you, check out the technology corner.
One Laptop per Child XO (far left)
RadioShack TRS-80 Model 100
1911 typewriting machine and 1909 Kent radio (back)
Nazi-era Enigma code machine (contraption in center)
Johannes Trithemius' 1518 Polygraphiae (left of it)
Apple II motherboard (right)
Edison kinetoscope next to 1890 Edison phonograph (w/ wax cylinders)
IBM processor, circa 1960 (tube technology!)

If there is an unbecoming slobbering subtext to this blog entry, my apologies. I suppose I should be content with my own books, slightly rare and otherwise. After all, my guess is that just as I don't own any Andrea Cellarius, neither does Jay Walker have some of the titles in MY collection.


gonzalez gonzalez said...

My library has been growing for over 50 years. It has about 1500 books and a few inconspicuous book-ends. All four tall walls are filled with books, the books are mostly hardbacks,in several languages; I arrange them by size and color, and some because they are leather bound, no one can easily find anything there but me. I also have a large wooden desk near the center of the right wall with a swivel leather chair , and, finally against the the far wall: a Steinway grand piano which which shares the center of attention with a large flower bouquet beside the music holder. The room exudes "accueil" and warmth despite being so mine; all walls have floor to ceiling windows and in its far end the room opens into the garden by two French window doors at right angles to each other. The reading chair seats at the angle between the glass doors

Bart King said...

The considerations that go into filing books can be daunting... I've ended up just going by author, nonfiction and fiction together, with special pull-out categories for poetry, music, foreign language, etc.

But by size? I haven't been that creative yet! As to the setting, yours sounds absolutely sublime. Fresh flowers, abundant sunlight and a Steinway? Jay Walker be darned! (And it unquestionably trumps our basement library, decorated with mold spores and accompanied by a dusty bass.)