Most Wanted Out-of-Print Books in 2008

Every year I'm fascinated by this list released by BookFinder. It tracks requests for out-of-print books at second-hand bookstores and Web sites. Here are the top five most sought-out titles you can't buy new in 2008:

1. Once a Runner, a novel from 1978 by John L. Parker, about long-distance running. Good news: Scribner is bringing this cult title back into print in April. Slate ran a story about it last week. Brant Rumble, the editor at Scribner, told me, "Finding a book this good, and with a great history and strong following, that hasn't ever been made available in a mainstream bookstore is a once-in-a-career opportunity, and I jumped on it."

2. Sex, Madonna's coffee-table book of erotic photos taken by Steven Meisel.
(Now she publishes children's stories....) Remember what a sensation Sex caused when it came out in 1992? (Warning: Don't google this on your work computer.) (Or at home.) If you saved yours, you're in luck: Copies of Madonna's metal-clad book go for as much as $499 (first edition, still sealed).

3. Promise Me Tomorrow, by Nora Roberts.
This is an early novel (1984) that Roberts refuses to put back in print. With more than 300 million copies of her books in circulation, she probably doesn't miss the royalties.

4. Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record, by Carl Sagan.
This is his book about the first era of space exploration, published in 1978. Alas, it did not sell "billions and billions" of copies at the time, but now used copies are in high demand.

5. Carpentry for Beginners: How to use tools, basic joints, workshop practice, designs for things to make, by Charles Hayward from 1900.
The run on this century-old book may have been caused by a Woodworking Magazine blogger who praised it last summer.

By Ron Charles |  January 8, 2009; 7:00 AM ET Ron Charles
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