Saturday, September 28, 2013

Book prices are.. too damned high!

    I'm late to the "A Game of Thrones" train. I do own a few old paperbacks of R.R. Martin's but nothing significant. I'm not a big TV watcher, and only watch TV while I'm eating dinner with my wife downstairs, so I miss out on most of office conversations about Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead. I decided before I would watch the series which I recently acquired, I would read the books which should take me about a week, then I'll commit the time to the series.

     I have not bought a new book in a very, very long time. I worked at Books-a-million for a short stint in 2001 as assistant manager, and that might be the last time I bought a new book. New releases were about $16.95-$19.99 for the big releases. This week I made a trip out to Barnes & Noble to pick up the books, for about the amount that I paid in 2001. I figured there would be some kind of bundle deal, and I could pick up all of them for around.. $60-ish. Man was I wrong.

     The price on the sleeve of each book was $39.99 for the hard cover. Time four books.. is $160.00. Four fucking books. I felt instantly betrayed by the industry, moreover I wanted to leave Barnes & Noble instantly and never come back. I don't go there often and I'll admit it was pleasant, good smelling, nice coffee and snacks abound, but man was I pissed and just forgot all about the great atmosphere and fun loving treats. I said to myself, 'Well, Ill just get a paperback.' Guess what? They don't sell them separately, you have to buy them in a box set or nothing. $49.99 for all four paperbacks. I wanted to kill someone. I found my wife in the kids section with my son, and she could see how mad I was. She, very calmly, explained to me that the prices had gone up, and eBooks had something to do with it. It was something that happened a while ago and I missed it. She told me to wait outside and she would talk to someone to see if she could just get the first book in paperback.
     I know I was a little too angry about a small problem that I really knew nothing about. She found a copy of the book that was available at the register for like $13.00 which, if you read the website, know I don't pay $13.00 for anything. I digress. I took the book home and I'm reading it now, and It's pretty good. Gritty, violent and compelling. I just had to vent about the prices of books, and how they suck.
     I'll never go back to a conventional book store. I like, the prices are pretty much what you're willing to pay, the only problem is the wait. I like Amazon prime, the service is good and seems as if its a good deal. I'll stick to that. Barnes & Noble, on the Zardoz Rating System (ZRS) you get three Zardoz heads.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Zardoz Rating System (ZRS)

Warning: Humor.

     Zardoz Rating System (ZRS) works by adhering to a list of strict criteria. Basically I deem something very shitty, so shitty, that it is as bad as watching the movie Zardoz at least one time. Zardoz being the worst movie that was ever made, in this universe and in others. The movie transcends shittiness, and often rips holes in the time/space continuum, to make other things shitty.. and to leave piles of crap floating around the cosmos, inherently making other things crappy in it's wake.. of shit. I will try to give you some facts to help you with the rating system below, to better understand how to use the ZRS.

1) The Zardoz Rating System was deemed by a group of my peers to be very hard to watch. Having Sean Connery, nudity and guns do not make this movie easier to watch in any way. No human or animal should be forced to watch the movie. The soundtrack alone is known to cause blindness and impotence in one out of three men.
2) I have never met anyone who has watched Zardoz more than five times in their life. Obviously the people who edited the movie never watched it more than once, so the rating system can not go higher than five (5) Zardoz Heads, and no less than one (1) head. A rating of five heads is almost unspeakable, and could cause a shit-paradox, causing the end of the world, life and everything.
3) Sean Connery himself has been known to use this system to rate things in his everyday life. Like when has to wait in line for anything, he often has fleeting moments of Zardoz, and often compares life's worst moments to having to suffer through another filming of the flaming horse-shit career endingly bad movie that is Zardoz.
4) When selecting a Zardoz head to use for your rating, use the grainiest, shitty possible quality image possible to express how fucking shitty the movie, and whatever your rating, really is. Examples below.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Read it again? Sometimes. (Anthony, Asimov)

The theme of the day is all-in-one novels, or books that contain multiple books from the same series, taken from my collection.

     I have read the first seven Xanth books at least ten times each in high school. I felt as if they were witty, with great characters, and each book was different. After the seventh* book, the formula was:

Official Xanth Writing Formula

1) Have an issue.
2) Go to the Good Magician Humphrey's castle for a answer
3) He gives you a quest in exchange for the answer, big breasted Gorgon
4) Puns
5) Love side story that is not very good, or innuendo of a strange sexual nature
6) Puns
7) Ends on a positive note, possibly interspecies sexual innuendo

I suffered through almost 25 Xanth books before I realized they were not getting any better, and decided the best books were the ones he wrote before he was super famous, and had to be very creative. Being as prolific as he was, almost everything was a trilogy.. or a trilogy of trilogies. Later series that broke free of the trilogy suffered greatly as a result. Most people would call this "sucking ass" or "pants-shittingly bad".
     The Adept novels were awesome. Half Fantasy, half Science Fiction, they were just what the doctor ordered. The first three books were magical, perfect, and just really fun. Each of the books could be made into a detailed blockbuster movie. Stile, the main character of the first trilogy was the consummate un-hero, breaking stereotypes and winning at all costs. Then, enter the next trilogy. The frames merged, then separated, leaving a huge plot hole. To fill the hole, make the main characters have kids, and give them unoriginal names and abilities. Break rules you have made in earlier books in the series, and introduce unimportant characters to dilute the story further. Weird alien and child sexual innuendo abounds in larrrge amounts. Do yourself a favor and read the first three books in the adept series again and again, but skip the last three. To cap it all off, as if my other issues were not enough, he wrote a seventh book, and it just got out of hand. Crossover you say? Of course he had a character in Xanth visit Phaze, the fantasy world in the Adept novels. Sigh.

     Best science fiction series(s) ever written. I read these novels several times, all the way in to adulthood. Unlike the Piers Anthony books, they really hold up to today's standards. The story stays with you, and does not get watered down in sequels. The blend of science fiction, friendships, love and hate, and sometimes violence draws you to each page. Foundation is one series that ever human should have to read before they leave the earth. In a fictional study that I just made up, 25% of white males aged 10 to 25 should fucking read this book.

     I'll be honest, it's been raining a bit lately, especially when you want to get out and do something. Garage sales were plentiful last weekend, but books were in short supply. I live in a wealthy area, but unfortunately, rich people don't seem to like to read, or get rid of their good books. I found my wife several things, and some movies for my son but that's about it. I'll give it another try this weekend and see what I come up with, and if I don't find anything, I'll just sit in my car and shit my pants or something and write about that.

*I did enjoy the eighth book in the series, but as an adult I felt it juvenile and poorly written.

Monday, September 9, 2013

First Edition Hunt: Lord of the Rings

First Edition Hard Covers
     Ill see if I can tell this story a better way then the way I read it, which was confusing for me the first time around.

    Broken down, each Lord of the Rings novel is actually three books in one. Due to paper shortages in the UK at the time of the publication, Tolkien had to compromise, combining three books in to one volume, and agreeing to publish the Silmarillion later on down the line and not with the rest of the books. In his rush to have the books published (due to money issues), Tolkien, or his publishing agent forgot to establish the rights to the book outside of the UK. As the books did well and enjoyed a surge in sales, the ACE publishing company noticed that the rights had not been established for the UK market, and reprinted their own copies here stateside in paperback.

First Edition 'Pirate' Paper Back
     The books obviously sold very well and attracted a small amount attention back home, and Tolkien realized he was missing the boat, monetarily. His agent contacted ACE, the people at ACE were not happy, but paid him a little bit of money and agreed to retract their editions for his 'corrected' ones. Tolkien saw many mistakes and plot holes in his very first edition and made quite a few changes to subsequent editions. Sometimes he would forget when changes he made with what publisher, so by publisher, almost all the books were different in a small way. This was not fixed until 1994 when Christopher Tolkien went through them all and added all the revisions together to make one master copy. This 'master copy' is the only version available today in reprint.

First Edition Hard Covers
     In the printing run, the first three runs were pretty small, but identical in every way. Each following impression was larger than the last, making the later impressions less and less rare. Although any first edition LOTR books from the 50's are pretty rare to come by, those with the lowest print runs in the first-third impressions are the most sought after.
Impression/Printings Page
     First editions signed by Tolkien are exceedingly rare as he did almost all his signing in his home. By the time the LOTR books were popular, he was in the twilight of his life and enjoyed to stay inside and be in his room to himself. The Hobbit, although written earlier, has much more signed copies in circulation as he was more available, was working, and was often seen around.

First Edition 'licensed' Paper Backs

     First edition first printings go for around $10,000 in any condition, in hard cover. Each following impression can almost cut the price by a third, depending on the market availability. Pirate ACE paperbacks can be found relatively cheap, sometimes less than $20.00 for a good example. Personally, I think the ACE editions are great little paper backs with a great history, and don't understand why they are not worth more than they are. You almost never see them, the covers are cool, and man.. what a story. All paperback editions from 1963-65 are all possibly first editions. Four different publishers were selling the same book, at the same time, cheapening the market for the paperbacks I love, but also making them easier to collect.

     For the record, I have several editions, copies and printings of LOTR.. but sadly, no first edition hard covers.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Flea Market Pick Ups, Part 4

     Here we are, back at Flea Masters in Fort Myers. Saturdays I typically yard/garage sale, and Sundays suck for that, so I hit the Flea Markets and thrift stores on Sundays. Was up pretty early, so I was there when the parking lot was empty and there were chains on the doors.

     I typically walk the whole market which takes about an hour. I find new things all the time, and I hate to miss anything. Like this gator humanoid thing in front of a place that sells fried gator to curious tourists. For the record, gator is good... tastes like fish and chicken mixed. Also found bunch of books not organized in a side stall. Nothing of interest there. Tons of romance and roughly-in-the-barn novels.
     Every item in the world that you could think of selling has its own "reseller". Comic book vendors are everywhere. I always look, but seldom buy anything. $1.00 a comic seems like a good deal, but they buy boxes of these things for pennies on the dollar. I even saw a VHS porn reseller a few times in the more seasonal months.

      Need some books on Hitler, or some throwing stars? Yeah.. me neither. The sword/knife vendors are always popular at the Flea Market with the red necks.

  I hit up my normal spots, talked to the guy who sells me most of my books on Sunday. He told me that its hard to find any real good stuff locally anymore, that he has to go to Tampa to find the good stuff. I agree with him, but I have still been finding some cool stuff once in a while around town so can't complain. The haul:

     It's hard to take good pictures with a curious cat around. He had to walk all over them and smell them individually. Artax is of the 'Book-Cat Variety', not yet recognized by any breeders association.

     So I picked up a lot of Zelazny paper backs that I don't own. I see a few in the market and in the paper back exchanges and for some reason I don't pick them up. I love the covers, and seeing five in a series in the same place in great condition changed my mind. First edition Piers Anthony Rings of Ice and Orn, both great books and super old. Dayworld by Farmer, Mars book and a DAW paperback to round out my picks. In Hard cover I picked up a Silmarillion first edition (my third one) and a cool looking short story compendium that I had not seen before with some great authors in it. Overall, I spent $10.00, and got a real good value for my money. The Silmarillion alone goes for around $35-60 on a bad day, so I guess the day is mine. 


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thank you Reddit! Here is a cat picture.

     I asked the Reddit community to check out my blog, and they sure did! Several hundred new people came and checked it out over a few short days and really brought back my will to keep the blog going. Thanks especially to r/bookcollecting.

     I appreciate all the comments and emails, especially those offering advice. I do plan on changing the background/color scheme a little bit. I want to make the blog more personal, I really just want to make it better. For those who asked why I have not monetized it, I honestly don't care to make money from it. I enjoy my hobby and sharing it with all of you on the interwebs.

     Check back often, more updates to come. For now, here is a picture of my cat Artax with some books to hold you over.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What does the office of an author look like?

     My mother, S.M. Ballard, was nice enough to let us in the library-like office she writes in every day. I think she sneaks in some reading now and then.. what do you think?

For those who are interested, The woman who gave me birth writes western and historical fiction, columns for the Tombstone Times and has a publishing company. Check it out here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Christian Thrift Store Pick Ups - Tolkien Companion

     Was down in South Naples today, just about as far as you can go without hitting good Florida swampland, and I passed a Christian thrift store I had missed before. I marked it in my mind, and hit it on the way back into town. Typically, depending on the town, Christian tax free thrift stores are over priced, and very few have the books of the devil known as Science Fiction. Could the Bible be considered Fantasy? High fantasy.

 Books were in good supply, mostly Bibles, Christian well-being, and Christian Romance.
 I got a shitty look when I took a picture of the mobility wheel chairs. Price? Only $400 each.
I did find a few of the only sci-fi/fantasy books in the store, and just bought them to buy them. Only .50 cents each, so why not. The lady behind the counter insisted I keep my receipt so when I was done reading them, I could bring them back and donate them. The haul:

     So there were two first edition hard covers collecting dust where the old lady clothes were in some decorative bookend things. One was a Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets 1st/1st. This being the third one I've found, it will be eBay fodder. As I have explained before, early editions of the first and second HP books kind of fund my little outings. The one I really wanted for myself was the Tolkien Companion. I have a reprint, and have read it cover to cover.. back in middle school. Really cool artwork, dust jacket and fonts. The others were just junk paperbacks I have already, but could not stand to leave them to rot with the holy rollers. A few pictures from the Companion:

 Click to Enlarge, I love maps.. glorious maps.