Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Suckered myself again....

Yesterday, I dealt (in a small way) with some ex library copies that I couldn't pass up.

Today, it's the old... do I buy something because I CAN remember all the information I need to, or do I pass it up because I CAN'T remember...

First off, let me set the scene for you.

I go book hunting for some of my stock by checking book fairs, book sales, friends of the library stores, etc. Normally, I DON'T take my references with me (because the one you need would always be left behind anyway). It's my job to REMEMBER this stuff on the fly.

I have at least one reference to Dr. Seuss titles (First Editions of Dr. Seuss Books by Younger & Hirsch .... I highly recommend it).

SO I was looking in a Friends of the Library store I frequent regularly and saw about four Dr. Seuss titles WITH dust jackets....

Dust jackets for most books are de rigueur...(ok, for books that HAVE dust jackets, there's a whole lot more from before the 1800's that don't but I don't deal with those much...)


Finding early Dr. Seuss titles with dust jackets is a GOOD thing.

The lovely staff at this store tried to do some research on the books & labeled at least one of them a 1st edition... which means that the price goes up accordingly.

Now, here's the part where the instincts and the training are supposed to come into play.

Remember, I don't have this particular reference on hand, and if I leave the store to travel half an hour back home to get it, someone else could snaffle this batch of books right from under my nose...

I'm pretty sure none of the books is a first. I know THAT much at least. But this one...

Well, my brain was chugging along enough to ask the staff if I could check online (they have a computer they use for this very purpose ... normally I would NEVER ask this sort of thing, but the price tag was $35.00 and I wanted to be very sure).

Got on the computer (with the lovely lady looking right over my shoulder). Some of the info looked ok, but I really needed to take a closer look. Which meant pulling out my reference.

SO, being a good bookseller, I put the book on my pile anyway.

NEVER pass up a Dust jacketed Dr. Seuss in decent condition, especially if it looks like an early copy. That's a mantra most children's picture book dealers learn early on.

Now I didn't get greedy. The other three Dr. Seuss titles were definitely NOT early printings (or 1st as marked) and the prices were too high for the condition (some of the dust jackets were missing whole chunks) so the only one I put in my pile was this one.

Of course, this isn't the only book I buy that day. Which is a good thing, because when I get back to my references and start checking points, I find out this is definitely NOT a 1st edition, in fact, while it's early, it's not even THAT early.

What the staff at the Friends of the Library didn't do (and what I didn't have time to do there) was to check the list of titles on the reverse of the dust jacket --

All it would have taken for either of us to figure out this is NOT a first edition , would be to run down the dates on the list .... because there, sticking out like a sore thumb, was a book published in 1962. (Horton Hears a Who was originally published in 1954).

(actually, I need to pull a copy of the wikipedia list and put it in my overstuffed purse with all the other notes that I find useful).

So now this copy (early & generally very good+ WITH the dj) which cost me $35.00 (plus tax & gas) is now going on my website for $40.00.

It serves me right for being a bit greedy.

On the other hand, I learned a very valuable lesson that won't be forgotten (which is the way collectable dealers learn most of their lessons....and I've got a few zingers in my past to remember).

There are some books that you have a great feeling about that actually DO turn into something wonderful.

Another day I'll tell that sort of story.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ex Library copies... to be or not to be?

Normally, I'm not a fan of Ex library copies -- you see, I specialize in Modern Science Fiction / Fantasy First Editions, which have to be, for the most part, First Editions in fine condition with fine dust jackets (or something very close) to even be considered salable.

That's just the nature of the beast... if you want to collect or sell 1st edition SF / Fantasy, then them's the breaks.

2nd printings are ok....

less than Very Good+ condition is ....well, cringe-worthy and only for hard to find titles of distinction....

Ex Library copies are Verboten.

Except in the case of truly high powered titles / really rare / top ten on the list of modern authors (yes, I do have a copy of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein for sale in an ex library copy... but it's one of Heinlein's first Hugo award winning novels...and one of his better books).

So what about these Lloyd Alexander titles I picked up?

I have had them in boxes for a while, waiting for me to decide if I should list them on my website or not. Here's the thing.... This series was one of the first fantasy series I read & fell in love with. This is one of the series that made me a fan of fantasy / Scifi.

Plus, the books are First Editions.

This series is HARD to find in 1st edition with dust jacket.

Go look.

Sure, there's lots of junk listings online for copies, but if you actually do some footwork & try to break down what's what, you'll see that there are not more than 20 actual first editions listed for each of the titles (I'm summarizing here...)

A full set in nice (Fine/Fine) condition can set you back two grand.

I know that these copies are battered and used and loved, but I still can't decide if I should just let them go or put them online as reading copies. They are noticeably ex library in condition (the dust jackets are generally very nice though)...

but they're first editions...

but they're not perfect...

but they are a collectable title (and considered high on the list of youth fantasy series)...

but, but, but...

So what would you do?

I'm asking.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ho Ho Ho... Merry Christmas!

The deal was that I would update my blog REGULARLY...that's what I told myself when I started it. However, all bets appear to be off during school vacations *AND* the two weeks prior to *AND* the week after any big school vacations. Two field trips, class parties (for which I am not only bringing home-made goodies, but which I have to attend...and enjoy), kid stuff, friends over, etc...

Makes for NO time to think straight or work on a blog. I was trying to keep the book theme going, but I seem to have lost that already.

On the good side, I have NOT fallen back on the cute kitten photos yet (though the newest member of the household is too cute for words & the first cat I've had in years who thinks sitting on my keyboard is what cats are supposed to do -- NOT).

So it's Christmas night (the FIRST day of Christmas for purists... and I am finding a few purists in the blogosphere). and I did a minimal amount of real work (IE: book business).
I moved boxes of books -- ho, ho... easy stuff, right? Well moving boxes isn't so bad, but figuring out where to put them to get them in the right order & out of walkways & harm's way takes brain power.

Then I took pictures of books in preparation for next week's data entry.

Then I had to move boxes of books around again to FIND a couple of books that sold (Yippee for the sales!), then move the boxes all back into order again.

THERE IS ORDER. One of these days, I'll post pictures of the stacks of boxes ... and if I get really silly, I will write a list of the order that the boxes are in... yeah, right.

Other than that, I've checked my email in dribs and drabs, cooked, eaten WAY too much, read the darned book I'm supposed to review by Monday and played with the kids.

Pretty much a normal Christmas for me.

I like it that way.

I get back to real work days on Monday. Hopefully, I'll get back to updating the blog with real book stuff at the same time.

Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pigs, pigs and MORE pigs!

Is a Guinea pig a pig (as in porcine, porker, hog, etc), or is it something else....

I never had a chance to actually delve into this book in years past, though I'm very familiar with the book -- it was one of the perennial favorite titles that older customers used to request when I worked in an open shop. Back then (eons ago, it seems) I never had the time to find out what was so amusing. Last Thursday, though, when I was entering the data for this particular copy in my database, I thought, what the heck, I'll poke through the first couple of pages.


I ended up reading a whole chapter (which is not hard, as it's easy reading & the chapters are short) and wanted to read more. Unfortunately, even now, the life of a book dealer is not one of constantly sitting down to READ the material at hand, it's to list it and SELL it (or we don't last long as dealers, now do we).

The pig part is simply, and yet as complicated as you could ask for -- is a Guinea pig a pet in the eyes of a railway company transporting it from point A to point B, or is it a Pig (as Wilbur the Pig in Charlotte's Web)? For Mike Flannery, the Westcote agent of the Interurban Express Company, the answer wasn't so easy or simple. And it revolved around money.

"But, you everlastingly stupid idiot! - shouted Mr. Morehouse, madly shaking a flimsy printed book beneath the agent's nose, - can't you read it here - in your own plain printed rates? - Pets, domestic, Franklin to Westcote, if properly boxed, twenty-five cents each.- He threw the book on the counter in disgust. - What more do you want? Aren't they pets? Aren't they domestic? Aren't they properly boxed? What?"

And the answer from Mike Flannery... "Here's the rule for ut. - Whin the agint be in anny doubt regardin' which of two rates applies to a shipment, he shall charge the larger. The consign-ey may file a claim for the overcharge. - In this case, Misther Morehouse, I be in doubt. Pets thim be, but pigs I'm blame sure they do be, an' me rules says plain as the nose on yer face, - Pigs Franklin to Westcote, thirty cints each."

Another thing I hadn't known about this slim, but hilarious book is that it originally was published as a pamphlet to be handed out to customers of a railway line (as noted by Between the Covers book store in their description:One of 30,000 copies of the first edition, which was distributed for free by the Railway Appliances Company. ) This was Ellis Parker Butler's first book and started his career as a humorous writer off with a bang.

Hopefully, when I have a bit of time (and before it sells) I'll be able to finish this book.
I'd like that.
I'd like that a lot.
(PS: two little Guinea Pigs don't stay lonely for long in a railway station, especially if it's a mated pair!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dat be MR. Rabbit to you...

Sometimes I wish I had a bigger selection of older children's books. Mainly, I have modern youth fiction / picture books which suits me fine, but sometimes I wish I had many more of the fragile, quaint, beautifully illustrated and beautifully bound books that were published in the 1800's for children. Today's book is one that reminds me how solid and handsomely some of the books were produced. Joel Chandler Harris is famous for his Uncle Remus series and his use of vernacular Southern US English. This title is one of a smaller two volume series published a bit later in his career. Not as well known today as Uncle Remus, but just as intriguing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Santa and Alex

Delia Ephron is a scriptwriter -- probably best known for "You've Got Mail" and more recently for "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants". She's also known as Nora Ephron's sister. She's NOT known for her written word, but it turns out she's published a few books along the way. This title was published in 1983 & is actually somewhat difficult to find. The illustrations by Elise Primavera have a youthful jubilance and humor which I particularly like. (No, this is a book with extremely detailed illustrations like the last two).

Mostly it's just a fun book.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I'm out of my wacky phase and into my detailed illustration phase for the moment .

I love the illustrations in this book. In fact, Palmer Brown does very detailed, and yet homey illustrations that just call to me. The only bits I know about him (yes, him) is that he was born in 1919 in Chicago, IL. and that he published only five books in the 1950's. There's no date of death, but just as suddenly as his work appeared, it disappeared again. He's not well known nowdays, but his work is detailed, delicate and exquisite.

Wonderful stuff.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The problem with the picture included with this post is that it doesn't do justice to this book. Author / illustrator Mark Alan Stamaty has, in this wonderfully bizarre story of a boy who helps out a donut collector on his rounds collecting donuts, created a masterpiece by filling every possible space with unbelievable, intricate detail. Every square inch of each of the pages is heavily and laboriously illustrated with scenes of all sorts -- each of them including at least one donut. (the rear blurb of the book mentions a grand total of 3,487 donuts in all, but who on earth could count all those donuts ... and I think the number is too small anyway). In the end, the boy, who has taken over the donut pick-up route saves an old lady who is drowning in coffee (you have to read the book to understand) by dumping his load of donuts and thereby soaking up the liquid and saving the day.
Unbelievable illustrations.

(I'll see if I can add some pictures from inside the book as well).

PS: strangely enough, there are no cops standing around carrying / eating donuts in this book -- at least none that I could see.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hiiiiyahhh!!!.... oops?

I know this is not in my main specialty area, but I'm rather fond of this book -- in a weird sort of way. No, I don't practice karate (except in that place in my mind where I'm capable of doing all sorts of things like karate, ballroom dancing, fencing, ballet, etc.) but I've had this book in my database & online for years & still it intrigues me.

Not only can karate stun and maim, it can outright kill -- the goal of this book is to help those who study the art of karate (or any martial art, for that matter) to realize just exactly what the consequences of a particular move / blow are on a typical body. It is both an instructional guide and a very graphic cautionary tale.

When the instructor says don't try this at home....

He MEANS it!

Most of all, it's a strange book, but it's COOL....

Friday, November 21, 2008

Look for a Kitten...

Dare Wright was a wonderful author / photographer, but her personal life was an unfortunate mix of unhappiness and complexity. Her father left her mother when she was young (taking her only brother with him) which left her alone with a dependent and possibly abusive (psychologically and physically speaking) mother who may have shared her bed up until her mother's death.
While her home life was sad and twisted, her love of photography came to her aid and helped her find a place in the world. Her first book Lonely Doll became a success and helped make her name in the world of childrens picture books. The book was made with black and white photographs of one of Dare's own dolls named Edith. More than slightly autobiographical in nature, the story of Edith the doll has become a classic picture book and started Dare on her career.

Look for a Kitten is one of Dare's later picture books and features a live kitten as the central character. Strangely, even though it is a later title, it's not easy to find & copies in decent condition (and not ex library copies) are quite pricey.

The Beginning...

In the beginning, there were no words -- until someone wrote them down.

This is a brand new blog for me (and a brand new medium to learn) so here goes.

I mainly intend to use this blog to talk about books, book selling / book buying and to show off some of the more interesting books I acquire or have for sale.

But there will be times when daily life creeps in and you might find posts about my two children, my husband, my mother, my sister, my strange cats, etc. Normal everyday life does exist for a bookseller & sometimes it's more interesting than the book at the top of my stack to enter into my database.

So that's what you can expect -- at least that's what I'm hoping to write about. Let's see how it goes from here.

Enjoy your day.