When my kids graduate from college, I'm going to a. take a long nap; b. take a week off; and c. devote time to learning the fine art of...

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When my kids graduate from college, I’m going to a. take a long nap; b. take a week off; and c. devote time to learning the fine art of book collecting. It’s an avocation for those who love dust and details, requiring a store of arcane knowledge about books and a willingness to spend a lot of time sifting through the stacks in secondhand bookshops and garage sales.

Intrigued? Check out the March/April issue of the magazine “Fine Books & Collections,” which documents the top-selling books and manuscripts of 2004. Author Greg Sanders reports that last year’s top-seller at auction houses was an English illuminated manuscript, called the “Macclesfield Psalter,” which fetched $3.1 million. Second place went to William “Bill” Wilson’s hand-corrected manuscript of the “Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book” at $1.576 million.

Other top-sellers: page proofs of “The Scarlet Letter” hand-corrected by Nathaniel Hawthorne, $545,100, and a three-page erotic letter from James Joyce to his wife, which went for $445,480.

You can read Sanders’ story online at finebooksmagazine.com/index.phtml.

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Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times book editor