Tuesday, March 27, 2012

John Gardner's James Bond

Even though John Gardner died in 2007, there has been a renewed interest in his James Bond novels because 2011 was the thirtieth anniversary of the renewed series.  License Renewed, Gardner's first attempt at Bond, was published in America and in England in 1981.  He ultimately composed 14 Bond novels and two movie adaptations.  Of concern to collectors is the fact that the Jonathan Cape publications seem to have a greater value than the Merek/Coward, Macann/Putnam versions.  This could be due to greater sales in America or it could be due to variance in dust jackets.  The art work for the Cape editions being more ornate than the rather plain American editions published by the varied American publishers.  The American jackets have more of a Bond/Fleming feel though.  Recently in Iverness, Florida, I found a collection for sale at the local Goodwill.  As they were first printings in very good to fine condition, I purchased For Special Services, Icebreaker, and Role of Honor.  These are the second, third, and fourth books in Gardner series. The copy of License Renewed at the Goodwill was a book club edition so I decided not to purchase it.  It bought a decent first edition/first printing online through Amazon.com to complete the series.  For just over ten dollars, I got Gardner's first four attempts at Bond.  These books would be a nice addition to anyone's spy library though they should not be confused with the originals or with Le Carre at his best.

Avenel Mystery Collections

Between 1979 and 1988 Avenel Publishing Company published a series of collected novels by some of the most famous mystery writers.  These collections were distributed by Crown Publishing. The dust jackets are glossy and in some cases dynamic, but the paper that they used for these collections frequently yellows or tans making them less attractive than they might be.  In very good to as new condition, these collections can be quite valuable especially if they are first printings.  Of the editions pictured, the most collectable are the Ian Fleming Bond and Rex Stout with copies in mint condition going for as much as one hundred dollars and more.  The Saint by Leslie Charteris is also quite collectable.  Recently I picked up copies of the Cain, Marquand, and Mickey Spillane books at Goodwill sales.  These collections contain some great novels that are very difficult finds. I always look for a complete numberline or in the case of these books a complete letter line which begins with an "A". and for dust jackets that are at least in very good condition.  Remember if a book has any water damage, it is probably beyond salvage no matter how well it might fit your collection.  I recently passed up the James Bond collection with staining on the bottom and some mildew even though the rest of the book looked to be okay.  Collectors should remember to be extremely critical before purchasing a book.  Look behind flaps for names, check for moisture wrinkles, and look for missing or trimmed pages.  These flaws detract from future value and should be noted before getting a book home.  Take your time looking over a book even though it appears to be a great find.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Booking in Florida moves North temporarily

Home improvement having forced me North for a few weeks, I took advantage of the Manistee Library's Book Sale and came up with a few interesting books some of which merit mention and other that merit some analysis.  At this sale, I purchased some history most importantly a First edition/first printing of Brookhiser's biography of George Washington.  Some Science Fiction; Carlucci, a paperback collection of three novels by Richard Paul Russo.  I had a chance to read two of these works while working as a high school librarian, and even though I did not find them appropriate for that collection, I did enjoy them.  I also purchased several collections of short story to add to my extensive collection.  I am really looking forward to the Collected Short Stories of Richard Yates who was so instrumental in the Iowa Writer's Workshop and was Raymond Carver's mentor to mention just one of the writers that he took under his wing.  I also purchased a copy Prize Stories, 1960
edited by Mary Stegner with an introduction by Wallace.
It is in pristine condition with boards so stiff that
they resist opening.  In this condition the collection
would be valued at between fifty and seventy-five dollars.  Unfortunately this jacket is price clipped limiting the books value.
In addition to these great books, I also purchased three
books that deserved some analysis. They are Hiroshima
by John Hersey, Tales of the South Pacific, Michener's
first novel, and finally The Stars Like Dust by Isaac Asimov.  Hiroshima was originally published in November of 1946 over the objection of the United States government.  True first editions are valued at as much as a thousand dollars.  The book that I purchased had no price on the dust jacket and a small square indentation on the lower corner of the back cover.  It is a book club edition.  Interestingly, it is, as stated on the title page, a New Edition Reset with a new chapter and frontpiece, August 6, 1985.  The dust jacket of this work is also dated 8/85.  This makes this work rather unusual for a book club edition and has added to its value which is currently around twenty dollars.  The second book that I wanted to discuss is Michener's work.  A true first of this book in good condition would value at as much as three thousand dollars.  The copy that I purchased is pristine and is labeled as a first printing on the title page which also indicates no date other than 1947. 
This is not that three thousand dollar book miraculously saved for me to find.  It has no price on the cover.  It has a book club mark on the rear cover.  It is most likely what is know as a facsimile, a book made to look like a rare original that can be ordered on demand.  The last book in this trio is The Stars Like Dust which was published in 1951.  This book is labeled a Tor First Edition on the title page with a complete number line which would indicate that it is a first printing.  It does have a price on the jacket and there are no indentations on the rear cover, but while this is not a book club edition, it is also not a true first edition as it was not published in 1951.  All of this means that a book is not always what it seems.  I am absolutely sure that these are the strategies of nefarious publishers accomplished to make a collector's heart skip a beat as he or she is sure for a moment that they have found the blackbird of which dreams are made.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

YA Fantasy and Scott Westerfeld

The Midnighter's trilogy was Westerfeld's first foray in YA Fantasy.  He has since written several other award winning YA series including the Uglies and the Leviathan trilogy.  In The Secret Hour, the first of the Midnighter novels, Westerfeld builds his YA tale around the fifteen year old Jessica Day who has just moved to Bixby, Oklahoma from Chicago along with a sister, unemployed Dad, and her mother who is an aviation engineer working on a top secret wing design.  The book opens on Jessica's first day at her new high school and Westerfeld immediately picks up the usual YA themes; family problems, belonging, peer pressure, and to be a goth or not, but these themes quickly take a backseat to plot as Jessica discovers that she is a Midnighter, an individual born at midnight who has access to a 25th hour world created by the dark creatures who once hunted us and then were forced by our advancements to hide themselves away in a secret time zone that very few humans can even visit.  Jessica is one of five teen Midnighters and while each of the others has a special ability, Jessica and the others cannot figure out hers.  But unlike the others, Jessica attracts the attention of the dark things and they come risking all to kill her.  It is obvious that whatever her special ability, it is dangerous to the dark things, and they cannot allow her to live.  Westerfeld concludes this story with the Midnighter's battle to save Jessica and themselves.  Melissa the Mindcaster is worth special mention as she is the most interesting of the Midnighters.  Her ability to read minds has forced her into isolation all of her young life.  Touch is a veritable torture as it immediately opens a window into the others complete personality and personal history.  There is a black, angry and very conflicted side to Melissa which should be very interesting to watch as the trilogy continues especially because it appears she has the ability to enter people's dreams at night and impact their future behaviors.  There is the implication that she has secretly used this ability in the past to get her way.

I found the second book in the Midnighter's series at a garage sale and picked it up for 50 cents.  Last week at the half off Goodwill sales, I found the first book for a dollar and I read it, yesterday.  Funny how books that you are kinda looking for pop up when you least expect them.  I will continue to look for the third book, Blue Noon.  All three books as a set - ffs in very good condition - should sell for around twenty five dollars although I have not seen such a set priced and for sale.  I found Behemoth at a Goodwill bookstore for 3.99 and decided to take a chance because Simon Pulse did such a nice job producing the book.  It has a bold graphic cover, marvelous end paper maps and contains dark, almost Dickensian illustrations by Keith Thompson.  It is about a ten dollar book.  I bought Leviathan, the first book in the series, online for ten dollars plus shipping, and I will continue to look for the final book in that series during my travels.  I like purchasing an entire series before reading and I also think that having the series enhances the book's values, but that is speculation.  The collectability and future value of YA is also highly speculative, even though certain early YA has attained great value.  A 1967 Viking edition of The Outsiders in very good condition is currently selling for 1500.00 dollars and there is only one available at abebooks.  Of course, I am hoping that will be my next find.  Watch out though, they did issue an exact replica in 2007.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Martha Graves collection

About a month ago, I decided to try booking at the Fort Myers Goodwill stores.  There are several and I enter their addresses into our Garmin and plotted a course before heading off for a sunny afternoon ride on the motorcycle.  On this particular day, I planned on making four stops.  I basically planned to stay on 41 all the way to Fort Myers stopping at the Punta Gorda and North Fort Myers GWs and working my way south across the Caloosahatchee river to the stores on Palm Beach and Cleveland avenues.  It is a very nice ride through a lot of open country, over several bridges and finally over the Caloosahatchee and into Fort Myers.  The booking was not too good.  The last store I stopped at was the Palm Beach store which is just outside the downtown area about a block off the river in a fairly poor section of the city.  The store was very clean, but the book section was pretty thin.  Really nothing at all until I got to a bottom shelf in the corner.  Here I spotted the first Martha Grimes book.  Now these books are smaller than the normal hardcover and that would indicate that they are book club editions. Upon opening the book, I found a price on the jacket and then on the title page I found in bold print an indication that the book was a second printing.
Now my interest was piqued and I began to go through the other sections (paperbacks and children's books) more carefully.  Ultimately, I found three more Martha Grimes books.  Two of them were first printings and two that were second printings.  It was a pretty good way to end the day.  I wasn't sure how good the books were - even though I knew that they were her second, third, fourth and fifth works.  I had never read Grimes, but I was very much taken with the covers and with the quality of her reputation as a writer.  Upon reaching home I found that these books were very good finds.  The Old Fox Deceiv'd values out at about 35.00 in the second printing and The Anodyne Necklace in a first printing values out at about 40.00.  I now have seven of her first nine works in first or second printings and I am looking forward to reading and writing about them for this blog.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Golfing in Bradenton

Rose early this morning to golf in Bradenton with Bob's sister Barb and her husband Jack.  That usually means a stop at the Tara Goodwill Bookstore, and indeed, Bob agreed to stop and peruse their stock for a few minute while his sister prepared our lunch.  As luck would have it, it was 25% off day which means that you can take a few fliers, but there was really nothing that I wanted to take a chance on.  I purchased six books knowing that none would be a home run.  Three of the books that I picked up were part of the Impress Mystery series which I collect.  They were in great condition and the best part about these books was that they also had the publisher's insert that came with each copy.  This is a subscription series published by Reader's Digest.  Impress Publishing has selected between five and seven mystery/spy novels each year since 1999 to be included in their Best Mysteries of All Time Series and while some are valued in the twenty dollar range most of them go much cheaper.  The publisher's insert greatly increases the collectability.  Two of the other works that I bought are early Richard Jury novels by Martha Grimes.  Her early works published by Little Brown are distinguished by a smaller size and great cover art.  The two books I found today were in mint condition and valued out at about ten dollars each.  I have added them to my Richard Jury collection which I will talk about in my next blog.  Finally I picked up a copy of Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses.  I buy a copy every time I come across one, no matter the printing.  It is one of my top five novels of all time, a great coming of age novel.  I have read it and enjoyed it as many times as I have read Catcher in the Rye, Tender is the Night, Lady Chatterley, or Under Western Eyes, all novels that I rank pretty highly.  I usually give the copies away when I can interest a friend in reading them.  If you would like a nineteenth printing in very good condition, let me know.  By the way, Bob and I shot 81 and 80 respectively

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Author signatures increase the value of a book

When I go booking, finding a book with an author autograph usually insures a sale, but that sale can depend upon condition.  I don't ever purchase books that have water or mildew damage. On my last booking trip, I found two books by Carole Nelson Douglas which contained not only her autograph but a brief message to the original owner and the paw print of Midnight Louie, the cat who acts as the detective in these works. 

One of these works also had an owner signature which I was able to sand to good success.  Again on sale of such a book, this removal should be mentioned.
Catnap is the first book in Douglas' Midnight Louie series.  This tends to increase the value of the book although not as much as books may increase in value because they are an author's first work.  When I am booking, I take both of these facts into consideration when making a purchase.  A f/f of Catnap sans autograph is valued at about twenty dollars while a nice autographed copy is selling for as much as fifty dollars.  Personally I like the fact that Carole Nelson Douglas chooses to personalize her autographs rather than just flat signing her books.  I also like the paw print that she has added to the Midnight Louie books.