Saturday, January 12, 2013

William Saroyan's Mustache Clippings

As trash goes, authors' clutter in the right hands equals big money.

From a story in the Wall Street Journal...

Authors, take notice: Remember those crates of scratch pads and tax returns in the garage? The trunkful of hotel bills and childhood doodles in the garden shed? Don't junk any of it—not before you call up somebody in Ken Lopez's line of work.

Mr. Lopez, who has a book-jammed office in this small town, is a broker—one of a dozen in the country—who deals in the flotsam of authorship. He sells to rich research libraries, which sort it and shelve it so scholars can mine it for clues to creativity.

"If you had William Faulkner's laundry list, would you care?" Mr. Lopez said not long ago. "The answer is, 'Yes.' So if it's true for Faulkner," he added rhetorically, "it could be true for you."

Being dead helps but isn't required. Mailer sold his 1,062 boxes for $2.5 million in 2005 and died in 2007. In 2003, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein sold 83 Watergate boxes, also to the Ransom, for $5 million. After 20 years of marketing for the likes of William S. Burroughs (dead) and Peter Matthiessen (alive), Mr. Lopez puts prices for interesting paper piles at $30,000 to $300,000.



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