Julian Benfield is the owner of Julian’s Books, a rare and used book dealer in New York since 1997. Prior to that he worked for Xerox in engineering and marketing management, and as a computer consultant. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from The Cooper Union, and MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology. His coolest offering is currently a signed copy of Mason & Dixon.In 1999 I was able to outbid other New York dealers and collectors to obtain a signed first edition of Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon. This was offered by The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine, where his son was in attendance. The following year, I was able to repeat the feat to obtain a signed Crying of Lot 49, again at Cathedral School’s annual fundraiser. While the books were just signed on the title page, I was told, after the auction, that Pynchon would be happy to personally inscribe the books if I so desired. Since I was buying for resale, I thought that it might be best to not request that. Some may disagree, but that was my choice.
Fast track to a few years ago, when I was negotiating with a potential buyer for Crying Of Lot 49, and mentioned that I never took Pynchon up on his offer to personalize the book. My customer, who subsequently paid $23,500 for the signed Lot 49, immediately asked if Pynchon would inscribe it to him. That’s where my saga started.