The Internet, which was supposed to herald the end of old-fashioned books, has instead saved the most vulnerable ones. The inventories of more than 60,000 independent bookstores from around the world are networked at Bookfinder.com. Books no longer die (or hide) when they go out of print. If you can remember a title or an author, you can track down anything you want quickly. (Prices vary widely according to condition and scarcity.) Here are the most requested out-of-print books in 10 different categories in the first half of 2004:
The Curse of Lono, by Hunter S. Thompson (1983). The founder of Gonzo journalism sets out to cover the Honolulu marathon for Running magazine. Includes Ralph Steadman illustrations.
Northern Lights, by Philip Pullman (1995). The first part of 'His Dark Materials,' a fantasy trilogy.
Crafts and Hobbies
The Principles of Knitting, by June Hiatt (1989). This comprehensive handbook covers stitch formation, fabric construction, pattern design, project planning, and decorative work.
Sisters, by Lynne Cheney (1981). A bodice-ripper about 19th-century feminist pioneers in Wyoming that deals in part with lesbian relationships.
The World Crisis, by Winston Churchill, 4 vols. (1923). World War I from a man who served as First Lord of the Admiralty and helped make key decisions.
Music & Art
Sex, by Madonna (1992). A metal-bound collection of nude and clothed photos of the pop musician.
Virgin, by James Patterson (1980). A secret prophesy claims one woman will give birth to Satan's child and another will give birth to a new Messiah.
Popular Science & Technology
Atlas of the Moon, by Antonín Rükl (1992). Photos and maps of the moon with a helpful introduction.
Fantasy & Horror
The Bachman Books: Four Early Novels, by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman) (1977). Psychological thrillers.
Society & Culture
The New Soldier, by John Kerry (1971). After his second tour of duty, Kerry volunteered to edit this antiwar book for Vietnam Veterans Against the War.