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.

Working on Previous Owner Names in Ink

During my last booking adventure, I purchased two works that had previous owner signatures.  These markings seriously degrade the value of the works that they mar.  First edition/First printings of The Wonder Boys as published by Villard range in value from 25.00 to 45.00s depending on condition.  One marred by a previous owner's signature would only be valued in the 15.00 range.  Upon doing some research, one way that is suggested to remove such signature is lite sanding with a very fine sandpaper.  I purchased a 400 grade sandpaper for this purpose.  Using a very small square of paper, softly sand the area being very careful not to take too much paper.  It is possible to sand through the page.  Working carefully, your results can be nearly indetectable as this sanded page shows.
When selling the work, it should be noted that a previous owner's signature has been carefully removed even if it is nearly undetectable.  I would now value my copy of The Wonder Boys in the 25 to 30 dollar range.  It is really very nice.  By the way, this book is Chabon's second work written before he won his Pulitzers.  It was the basis for a movie starring Michael Douglas.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Valuing a Book Run - Dreams from my Father

After completing a book run, I first decide if I made any mistakes by looking at what similar books are going for at  If the books are going for less than 10.00, they were a mistake and I do not usually keep these books unless they are books that I really want to read or are part of a special collection that I am building.  After making that cursory evaluation, I put the books in my Book Collector's database.  The President's biography was a really good find.  This was a very popular work and it went to multiple printings.  For books like this I usually take a look, but I expect that the book I pick up will be in its twentieth printing and therefore of little collecting value.  I was very surprised to find a 2004 f/f.  Note in the picture - the designation of First Edition and the complete numberline along with the 2004 date.  According to sellers on abebooks, this book in mint to fine condition values at between 90.00 and 240.00 dollars.  Now for the puzzler, and there are frequently puzzlers in book collecting.  The title page indicates a 2004 f/f but on inspection, there is a a 2007 copyright
date that I didn't notice when I purchased the book.  On reading the jacket blurb, this is a jacket for the 2007 reprinting of the book.  I have a 2004 printing in a 2007 jacket.  The book still has value but not what it would have in the original cover.

The January 12th Book Run

After golf in the morning, I decided to go booking which I usually do on the motorcycle.  I was on the road by 11:00.  It was sunny, 75 and breezy.  First stop was the Goodwill on 41 near 776.  Here I only found a copy of Goldman's biography of John Lennon.  It was an f/f in very good to good condition which I purchased for Iner's rock biography collection.  I also stumbled on a few Verve jazz discs including some Monk, Morgan and Mingus and some Pendleton shirts.  Moving on to the Bee Ridge GW Bookstore, I found an f/f copy of Chabon's Wonder Boys in mint condition except for a previous owner signature.  This book was published by Villard Books and so the number line begins with a 2.  I decided to take a chance.  The next stop was the Honoree GW.  They have a good book section here and the books seem to move well.  I was excited to find a f/f 2004 copy of Dreams from my Father and f/fs of two cat mysteries by Carole Nelson Douglas with inscriptions from the author and Midnight Louie.  I then took Bee Ridge back to Sarasota and hit the discount Goodwill on 41 where I found a Franklin Mystery by Ellery Queen for a dollar.  Roaring down 41 in the late afternoon Florida sun, my final stop was the Venice GW Bookstore where I purchased a 2011 copy of The Horizontal Man by Eustis to add to my Best Mysteries collection.  I was home by 4:30 with a slight sunburn.