Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Easton Press Neuromancer (Happy Birthday to Me.)

     A gift from my mother for my birthday on Saturday; Neuromancer Easton Press Signed Edition. I'll be honest, I did not take the shrink wrap off the book, I'm going to leave it exactly how it came to preserve it. Not that I don't own several other copies of the book, it being one of my favorite science fiction novels of all time. Learn more about how to get one at Easton Press here.

    Little known fact: The picture of the cover scan on Wikipedia (linked above) is a book I sold on eBay. When I previously found first editions of the release paperback for sale pretty often in the late 90's and early 2000's, I sold quite a few on eBay to earn more money to.. buy more books. I wrote a few small articles on why the paperback is scarce, and thus the picture was used almost everywhere, pre-google images.

    Read a post I wrote about Neuromancer back in 2012 here.

(Picture from Easton Press)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lets Organize Your Library

     I've spent all weekend, literally six hours each on Saturday and Sunday, organizing the books in my bookcases around the house. Taking in to consideration the amount of time I put in to just getting things loosely sorted so I can see things better, I thought I would put a few minutes in to a post about keeping your library organized.

On having too many books:
     I have too many books. Once you have three layers of books on the same shelf, you will never know what is in the back two layers, or the few books perched on top. My way of combating this is simple, I put all the one off, lesser known authors in the back. With those books, any new or non series paperbacks get tossed in there with them. If I'm pretty sure that I will not be completing a series, or it is not a desirable author, then you get to the back of the bus. My advice is to buy more bookcases until your significant other gets pissed, then get one more for good measure.

By series, or by author, or.. or... by publisher?
     If you have under 500 books in your collection, alphabetizing may be an option for you. The question remains, do you split up the series if they have different authors? Do you keep all your Del Ray books on it's own shelf? What about the yellow cover DAW originals? I kind of do both, depending on what I'm looking for at the moment. Moorcock, you get your own shelf, but if it has a yellow cover, you go with the DAW's, because I'm after those right now. Asimov, your all alone in your triple stacked glory. No real answer here.

Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Spelljammer and Eberron, oh my.
     I'm a complete nut for Forgotten Realms. Each of these series of books has series within them, and sometimes another one to spin off of that. Example: The Harpers, and the Finder's Stone Trilogy, which both have books that cross over in to the other series, and back again, and have several spin off series, one off books, etc. It's a mess, but one I was more than excited to tackle in 11th grade, 20 years ago. I read every single one. In these cases I just put the series together, and try to keep them on the same shelf, or layer, in the same book case. It's very satisfying to see everything lined up by number.
Clean your books.
    Stickers, gunk, pencil marks, even pen needs to be taken care of when you are organizing your books. Get a rag and eraser, some alcohol and set up a little prep station. Some may only need a light dusting, and once the shelf is empty, dust that too. The frequency you do this is up to you, I bet I clean off the shelves and look at my books every three months or so with my son. He likes to look at them and help me while I organize, which is great.

    They are all different sizes, height and width, what gives? They take up a ton of room on your shelves, but man, do they look great. I have a great answer for hard covers; just toss them on the shelf in size order, and don't double stack anything that is above the bottom shelf, the shelf will bend over the years. If you can marry up a series or author and the size is similar, go for it. I typically do not buy hardcover books unless they are something special, vintage or first printing.

Taking notes! Damn you Piers Anthony.
    I make a few notes of books that I thought I had, but are mysteriously missing from library. This happens constantly. I was wondering if people were just borrowing my books when I was not home, but ruled that out. Dust jackets go missing, covers get ripped, I just write it all down as I see it, then when I'm in the wild I try and get those books to replace the abused ones I noticed. All of the above is especially true with my Piers Anthony collection; he frequently writes more Xanth books, books are re-released very often with new covers, some of his books are so old they are literally deteriorating as I dust them. I pride myself on having a complete Anthony catalog, but I'm no longer up to date, and I'm always on the lookout for better versions of the rarer, older books.

All pictures taken by me with a broken iPhone.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sandman Book Co. Pickups

   I have a weakness for ACE Doubles and Conan, I was looking for Skyport for a while, after it was recommended to me from an old guy at a thrift store, and I had never seen that cover of Ringworld before in the wild. The classic cult paperbacks from the 50's and 60's are pure book-cover-porn material. I will admit, I made no money buying these, it was a wash. Nothing was under/over valued whatsoever, I just wanted them.

Warrior of Scorpio Editions

    Going to Sandman Book Co. the other day got me thinking about their incorrectly priced book, Warrior of Scorpio, by Alan Akers.(Ken Bulmer) I love the cover art by the way, but I was unsure about the edition. Nothing is really written on this, so I thought I would clear it up. 

   The pictures in this blog post I took on my coffee table, with the real first edition of the DAW original. I researched for a bit too long to verify my claims, but having both editions I've determined that they are both first editions, but different printings. The book above is the real earlier First Editions/First Printing, and the other copy is the First Printing/Second edition. Neither are remotely valuable however..  Obviously the cover art is different, but some of the reprints retain the same cover art, covered by a yellow border.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sandman Book Company

(The only picture I did not take)

     Seeing several reviews on reddit.com about collecting rare and hard to find to books, two people from two different posts asked me if I have ever been to Sandman Book Company, in Punta Gorda Florida. Having proudly visited 90% of Florida's used book stores in traveling, I had to admit I never had. Being less than twenty minutes away from the house, what excuse do I have? I bet I've driven by fifty times or more, one time in 2014 even looking through the window when they were closed, having seen the "Book Arch" on their facebook as it was being built. Shame on me. I once stopped by for their grand opening week, only to not buy anything and go home.

     Well from the picture above, with me standing under their masterfully built Book Arch, I obviously made time to go down and check it out. The chalkboard right in front of my feet says to touch the arch, take pictures, etc. There was small lights installed in the arch, and is much cooler to see in person. A ton of work went in to making something so creative, so much so I'm wondering if I should build one in my house! God knows I have enough books. 

     This place is massive. It's obvious it has undergone several expansions over the years, as each section had it's own feel, custom built bookcases- or bookcases bought and altered for this purpose, chairs, stools, and crown molding throughout. The size is comparable to the Books-a-Million in the Edison Mall, but packed with way more books. I get the nerdy/hipster feel to the whole place, while staying appealing to mostly everyone. Romance novels are partitioned in another huge space to keep the old ladies out of the way of real book collectors like me, and I appreciate that.

     I'm really not in the business of reviewing stores, but I honestly liked this place so much, I found myself just taking pictures of all the little curiosities. I had feeling, a strange feeling mind you, that someone invited me here.. like the owner or something, and we are friends and I'm happy to accept their invitation. My wife made the remark, "If they had coffee, I may not leave." The selection of vintage Science Fiction and Fantasy paperbacks and hard covers, is by the far the largest I have seen outside of Tampa, and that is saying something. The organization is similar to the way I have my books put away at my house. The anthologies are separate, popular authors, you have your area over here. Tolkien lovers, please come this way.

     As some people know from previous posts, I'm a HUGE fan of Ace Doubles, which are very hard to find in the wild, but can be had easily enough on Amazon and eBay for a few bucks a pop. I refuse to by them on eBay because of shipping variances, and the whole market flux has been driving prices up for no reason at all really. Sandman Book Co. has two full shelves of Ace Doubles, another shelf of old science fiction mags, and countless sets, boxed sets.. I mean the books were literally everywhere. If you noticed, the books are bagged and well taken care of.

     They use a shrink wrap machine, or bag any book deemed "rare", and they have two different kinds of stickers, no trade stickers, yellow stickers, I could go on. Each book is in inventory, and is priced individually. This is a giant undertaking for the amount of books that are in this space, and I understand now why they have volunteers who work for them! Back to the pricing for a second, and I think the only reason I may not make this a regular trip. Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely in love with this book store, and want to move in right away and never leave. The individual price on the books often does not make sense. The average price for a paperback is around $3.50, with some of the harder to find uncommon books hovering around the $7-$9 range. Rightfully so, often times that is the selling price or going rate on Amazon, Ebay, etc. See above, Warrior of Scorpio, an uncommon book at $98.00 in wonderful shape. Typically sells for around $6 on eBay, but is way undervalued in my opinion. Who came up with this price, and why $98.00? Master of Five Magics, on the other hand is right in the ballpark. I have both books, and did not need them, but started to wonder on the validity of pricing system. I noticed at least ten different items that were priced incorrectly, at a glance. Overall, pricing is medium to high, but I would rather give my money to this locally owned book store than random ebay/amazon sellers. One last small thing: The books that are not bagged or wrapped, the sticker is placed on the book itself. On some of the older books, this could be an issue, but I prefer this to the dreaded stamp of doom. Better of two evils... and so it goes.

     Rarer offerings were locked up in a few display cases scattered around the store. Easton Press books are my weakness, but everything was priced as new, no deals here. A signed copy of "The Last Unicorn" was priced to sell at $300.00, which with signed books, may or may not be a deal depending on edition, and if the person is still alive.. etc. In this particular case, I know Peter Beagle is alive, touring, and still signing books at conventions. My book intuition is telling me the owner is a young 30-something who would prefer to hold on to this book for the love of the movie/story/culture. I love rare books, I love this place, I'm saying it again. At this point in my tour a black cat stopped by and loved on me for a second, which gave me the warm fuzzies and solidified my choice in coming, yet again.

     I took one last look around, took a few more pictures, scooped up family playing checkers under the arch, and made my way out the door. I bought seven books, spent $38.00, which is way over my budget. This is not the kind of place that I would go to weekly looking for deals or things on a bargain shelf tucked away, but this is a place I will go to at least once a month, referencing pictures of the shelves I've taken to see If I need anything. I know what I need and what they have me on.. those damn Ace Doubles! I need around half of them, and I might have all of them.  Movie tie in books! They have their own section, which delights me to no end. This is one place I can honestly say has more books than I do, even in my select genre(s). I could easily spend $500 in this store and still want things! I'm almost certain the inventory from One for the Books, and the Book Rack may have ended up here in some way. Anyways, Thank you Sandman Book Company, I will be back, and I'll raise more money for next trip. This post is going long, so I'll put my haul on a different post.

Sandman Book Company - @sandmanbooks #bookbridge
16480 Burnt Store Rd. Punta Gorda FL
(941) 505-1624
Website - Facebook - Kittywankenobi - Email Contact

Bonus: We ate at The Celtic Ray - Public House in down town Punta Gorda.



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Robert Asprin: Thieves' World

    It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Thieves' World. Growing up, and especially in middle school, anything Robert Asprin was my kind of fantasy. Mix a little humor, with equal parts high fantasy, and add a splash of random nuttiness and you find yourself at one of the greatest fantasy book series collaborations of all time.

     For me it started back in the early 80's, and reading the back of this book in the library started a whole realm of free thinking and imagination brewing in my adolescent mind. Some of the authors I followed through the years, most really, originated in the storytelling in this very first book. Robert Asprin also caught my attention with other series, notably, MythAdventures and Phule's Company. Admittedly I did not read Phule's Company until I was an adult, but loved it all the same.

     Another few authors that have contributed a lot to the series, Jody Lynn Nye and Lynn Abbey, kept my interest in other series all through the 80's and early 90's. These are still common to find books, being available in a multitude of different omnibuses, comics, and reprints. A first edition first printing paperback sells for around $15 on ebay. The role playing game Sanctuary fetches around $50, and anything autographed by Asprin or Abbey can drive up the price a little bit, but the books are not in high demand at the moment. I've had a great deal of luck getting first editions on Amazon, ebay, and thrift stores around my area.

     Do yourself a favor, buy these books while they are cheap. They have a cult following for a reason, the world is immerse, the characters priceless and the stories you will remember forever.

*Note* I took all the pictures at my desk in my office. The autographed copy I have is the book cover only, given out at conventions during a book promotion tour for the original Thieves' World. Yes I used my broken iPhone, but i realized it still takes great close up photos!