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Rare, unique books reside at local bookstore

Clarey Rudd, Bank of Books owner, holds an antique copy of “Faust” by Goethe. Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Pictured is a 1613 King James Bible. Photos by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Clarey Rudd holds a fold-out book that visually depicts the story of “Little Red Riding Hood.”
Chris Bashaw, Assistant Editor
12:12 pm PDT May 13, 2014

To Clarey Rudd, owner of Bank of Books, a book can hold an immense amount of value.

“Books, whether they’re antiques or new, can hold so much worth from just their content alone,” he said. “You can travel the world just by reading a book, or teach yourself something; a lot can be done by self-teaching.”

Speaking in short and wispy phrases, Rudd knows first-hand the value of books when it comes to self-teaching, as he’s using them to learn how to speak after undergoing a laryngectomy.

But at Bank of Books in Malibu, there’s a glass case protecting more than 300 books that hold other types of values that aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive: historical significance, monetary investment and outright rare or unique are among such qualities of value.

Included in that niche are many unique books, like signed books of Presidents to signed copies of the Harry Potter books, to leather-bound antique books and artfully illustrated books.

Rudd, who has worked in the bookstore industry for 50 years and began collecting rare and antique books during the past 30 years, said the most rare book in the Malibu collection is the now-returned 1613 “The She – King James Bible,” which was on loan for several months to Pepperdine University.

The Bible in Bank of Book’s possession is valued at $48,500, and is referred to as the “She” edition due to containing an error correction from a previous edition where “Ruth” was referred to by the pronoun “he” – a mistake allegedly noticed by a proofreader who stood next to the printing press and read pages as they came off. 

The “She” Bible” joins full leather-bound editions of Shakespeare’s plays dating to the latter years of the 19th Century, a copy of “Paradise Lost” from the same period and much more.

Also in the Malibu collection is a 1926 copy of “A Million and One Nights: The History of the Motion Picture,” which is one of only 327 printed copies – how many of which still exist is unclear – and is also signed by Thomas Edison.

“A collection like this is not normally found in bookstores, yet Bank of Books Malibu is a unique bookstore drawing visitors from all over the world,” Rudd said.

What’s more, the collection at the Malibu location is only the tip of the iceberg: While the glass cases in Malibu are home to 300 rare books, Rubb said the whole Bank of Books operation has thousands of unique books spread throughout the other two locations in Ventura and three warehouses, which collectively house more than 2 million books of all kinds.

There are also a fair number of science fiction titles from the late 19th Century through the mid-20 Century, which Rudd said are coveted by collectors mostly for their illustrations and cover art.

“Many science fiction books are collected because of the illustrated covers,” he said. “Books are valuable for what they say and how they educate people, yet for their art, there’s also the beauty of older books’ covers and the designs.”

Included in that is an 1877 copy of Goethe’s “Faust,” which contains 14 full-page brass plates bound in a highly decorate, Gothic manner leather design. The item is valued at $6,850.

Rudd said he looks forward to the day when collectors adopt every rare or antique book in the Bank of Books collection, and said he hopes Malibu residents will consider building personal libraries that reflect the individuals they are.

“I hope everyone will consider building their own unique personal collection of books,” he said. “A library that clearly says: ‘This is who I am, these are my friends that helped me develop into who I am. I am who I am because of the books I read, and they helped form me.’”

As for Rudd’s absolute favorite books in the Bank of books rare and unique collection, he smiled and said they’re a part of his own personal collection.