Christopher P. Stephens, Bookman
Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.
Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world. He has operated appealing bookstores in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, Hastings on Hudson, NY and several in NYC, NY. He is a wholesale dealer to other bookstores all over the world.
Chris loves books.
Stephens now maintains a lively internet operation out of his new home in Scranton, PA.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Pramoedya Ananta Toer
One afternoon, almost 20 years ago, Chris Stephens was in the William Morrow publishing offices. He was talking with an editor friend. The editor was planning a trip to southeast Asia. Conversation came around to Indonesian author, Pramoedya Ananta Toer.
"He's in Jakarta under house arrest," said the editor. "Carefully guarded. In a comfortable situation now, I understand, but still confined."
Pramoedya's earlier imprisonments had been far from comfortable.
The Indonesian government was allowing the editor to visit Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Stephens had an idea.
"Wouldn't it be great to get some signed copies of his books? They'd be the only ones. "
"You don't understand, Chris. His books are outlawed there. He's imprisoned because of his writing. You don't just stroll through those streets with his books in your arms."
"What about blank sheets? You could bring him blank sheets. He could sign them and then we could tip them into books when you brought them back here."
"That might work," said the editor.
That did work. Chris brought the editor a packet of blank book-sized pages. The editor brought them to Indonesia.
Pramoedya was reluctant to sign blank sheets. He worried that someone might frame a contract or a confession above the signature and he'd be in further trouble. The editor reassured the author. He got the signatures.
Back in the United States, the signed pages were tipped into existing books. Those signed books came with a good story.
A couple of years later, Pramoedya Ananta Toer was finally released from house arrest. He traveled. He went on a North American book-signing tour.
some of Pramoedya Ananta Toer's books that have been translated into English: The Fugitive (CPS's favorite), Corruption, The King The Witch and the Priest, The Earth of Mankind, Child of All Nations, Footsteps, House of Glass, House of Glass, The Girl From the Coast, A Mute's Soliloquy