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.
Which I DIDN'T HAVE.
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).
CAN'T MISS IT!!!
(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.