Archive for July 2012

Actual book and record store demises and the NYC vs. L.I. quandary, and more (July 28th 2012)   Leave a comment

I’m hoping this blog doesn’t end up concentrating on the negative,

as that wasn’t my aim, but the main reason was to sound the alarm about

traditional brick and mortar stores being endangered, so wanted to mention

that as far as NYC is concerned, this situation really got going a few years back

when Coliseum Books closed its doors in midtown and shut its business down for good.

Coliseum was no Strand, but it was a great, neat, organized indie shop that was really superior to Barnes

and Noble in terms of pricing and stock and great remainder deals.  Actually I think the shrinking

bookstore market in the NY area, which is the only one I can really comment on with any authority,

started a long time before the early 1990s going back to the 1970s or early 1980s, when we used to have

competing major and even medium-sized book chains like Barnes and Noble, B. Dalton, Brentano’s,

Waldenbooks, Doubleday, Rizzoli, etc. and then later Borders all thriving and competing with each other.

That all changed in the later 1980s-1990s as most of the smaller chains got bought out

or couldn’t compete any longer with the larger ones.  Even the shopping mall stores started

to disappear and then we only had Barnes and Noble or Borders.   I recall when the Broadway Mall was

called Mid Island Plaza in Hicksville N.Y. and boasted at least three bookstores (and a kick-ass ice cream

shop which is also long gone) and now you’re lucky if the malls even have one Barnes and Noble, and

those are just the malls we’re talking about.  Also, Manhattan always boasted some great indie shops

and still does, but even by the late 1980s a lot of the better truly micro indie shops like Science Fiction

Shop, Fantasy Archives, and other smaller vendors started to disappear, and then Forbidden Planet

morphed into a glorified comics shop with some books but nothing like the vast array they used to stock,

plus all the zines and small press publications went out the window as well.   As for Brentano’s,

Doubleday and Scribner’s and such they were all relics, to some degree, of the 1960s and ‘70s, and most

were ok chains but couldn’t compete with the larger ones making inroads in the NY market and

especially were put down when Barnes and Noble and Borders expanded in a major way.  Other indie

mainstays like Gotham Book Mart lasted until the early 2000s and then succumbed to changing

ownership, demise of the owners, and/or realty and economic woes. There was even a time in NYC in

the 1970s to early 1980s when flagship chain like Doubleday actually kept rare book departments:

although one time when my dad and I visited the NY is Book Country outdoor Book Fair/trade show in

the early 1980s and visited the Doubleday flagship store, their rare book room’s prices were so

outrageously high it fairly made us wanna puke.  A copy of the Arkham House Tales of the Cthulhu

Mythos (1969) had to be at least $150, and that was in 1983 or so!  So I guess it was no great loss losing

some of those chains since there were no bargains to be found there, particularly with rare or

antiquarian books, but then again, most of those chains didn’t sell such things.

I remember being angry as hell and almost near tears as my likewise horrified dad looked on,

being offered that $150 copy of that Arkham House book by some uptight and snobby Doubleday

arsehole,  but when I see the even more outrageous prices being asked nowadays for things like this, I

almost get  wistful for this otherwise humiliating misadventure!  But then again, what to expect from a

publisher that pulped the first edition of J. G. Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition due to it having offended

the CEO’s dainty sensibilities, thus guaranteeing that the few extant copies, in future times, would

eventually be offered for sale for upwards of $16,000 so that no mere mortal could ever actually

purchase a copy.

     Bringing this situation to the present, then of course Borders went Chapter 11 last year

and shut all its stores for good, and even Barnes and Noble was rumored to be in trouble.

Its future as a brick and mortar retailer is still possibly shaky as I pen this.  Also, several of the stores

around the country I’ve bought from the past few months have web sites

saying they either went totally online and closed their brick and mortar operations, or were in the process

of reorganization.  I also called two different bookstores that I’d heard about in Astoria, Queens last week,

Astoria Books and Seaburn Books, and both had closed shop even within the past six months or less!  And that was

after consulting web sites for the shops that claimed they were either still in business, or maybe someone had already

posted that the former shop was already closed, I dunno, but the effect is that a lot of these stores are seemingly closing

faster than I could research them.  I also am being told by my friend Sam Gafford that Providence, RI has very bookstores left,

and even Boston, MA has seen most of its indie shops close their doors over the past couple of years, which is even more

distressing considering it’s Boston we’re talking about.  On other hand, it does seem like some specialty and indie shops are

doing well enough to keep their doors open, such as Forbidden Planet which I guess is eternally supported by legions of

comics fanatics, The Strand which appears to own their building and thus can afford to take the hits they must be taking from

the online e-commerce shift and the economy, and places like Cellar Stories in Providence which clearly still fulfill a niche that’s

rich enough to sustain them through horrible economic times and a changing book business model, but these are the exceptions.

 Somehow some small indie shops in NYC like East Village Books still keep thriving, if indeed they are, while other neighborhood

stalwarts like St. Marks Books are struggling just to afford the rent to be able to continue having a retail shop (and also having

battles with NYU as their landlords) and many others have already folded.  We’ve also lost a ton of great indie record shops in

Manhattan alone the past ten years or less, too many to even mention, but some key ones were Subterranean, Record Runner,

Second Coming, Bleecker Bob’s (ok, granted Bob’s sucked for years and was a tourist trap joke for almost 15 years, so no big loss there),

9-9, Sounds (although they may have reopened on St. Marks Place recently) Rebel Rebel, Pier Platters in Hoboken (many years ago now)

and of course Tower and Virgin Megastore, although some of the former ones folded long before the 1990s. Downtown Music Gallery which

used to be on Bowery and 2nd St. moved in 2010 to Chinatown because of rising rent issues and may or may not still be in business but it’s

by appointment only from what I’ve heard.  To sum this post up, this is not a good situation and it’s only getting worse and accelerating by

the day, especially the past several years. Where it’ll all end I don’t know, probably with me buying all my music, books and films online,

but I won’t be happy about it, that’s for sure.  And then the city and even LI will become one big Urban Outfitters Bistro. land and Walmart

world and we’ll have no arts or culture to call our own. And again, to be fair, Long Island was never much in the way of great bookstores:

the only great ones were Book Revue and Oscar’s in Huntington years ago, and now Huntington only has Book Revue and Oscar’s

closed  many years ago, and also they recently saw the closing of Soundtraks Records which used to be a great little indie rock and pop

record store that always thrived because it catered to a more discerning crowd than the major chains did, and now they succumbed

in 2011 to the changing market and economy and probably, rising rents, and closed their doors literally almost overnight one Fall

day last year.  There were supposedly some good stores out east on L.I. like the allegedly revered and venerable Canio’s Books in

Sag Harbor but I visited this shop a couple of years ago and it sucked, I mean, a quaint little shop but boasting nothing out of the

ordinary and NO rare or signed books that I could ascertain, and it was so cramped you could hardly browse the shop, which made

it even more irritating.   Canio’s might be good for poetry readings and wine and cheese schmoozing but not book buying!

That was RIGHT out, plus they stocked NO horror, fantasy or SF whatsoever, which makes me suspect the owners hate those

genres which makes me never wanna patronize the place anyway, on principle.  There was one other tiny bookstore in Sag Harbor

closer to the harbor area that had some art books and things but again, nothing special and the prices were rather steep on everything

in the shop.  Don’t get me wrong, Sag Harbor’s a gorgeous little town but it’s better for ogling summering models/celebs and getting a

good meal and enjoying the beach or boating, than book buying.  So, basically L.I. you can close the lid on except for Book Revue,

and that’s also not nearly as great as it once was in the 1980s-1990s, but at least it’s a decent shop.  The Nassau town of Sea Cliff

used to have a great indie shop, Sea Cliff Books, but they folded at least ten years ago when the owners decided a retail shop model

was no longer viable, and/or retired.  I used to know the owner, Charlie, rather and well and sometimes wheeled and dealed with him,

but he ultimately retired from the book business a couple of years ago.  There was also a cool little indie shop in Glen Cove run by

some nice old codger type guy, but the owner passed away, I was told, about five years ago and that ended that little shop whose

name I cannot recall, as well. Otherwise, even years ago I would have to eventually get on the train to NYC or drive out to NJ with my

dad to buy the real goods, or wait for a good convention with a dealer’s room, or go mail order like Robert Weinberg Books. But

what will I do in coming years when there’s nothing left in NYC or NJ even?  I’ll be going online and hitting the Purchase button

like the rest of da clowns, that’s what!   In my immediate current neck of the woods in Port Washington L.I., we have

exactly one bookstore, Dolphin Books, which is a nice little shop run by nice folks but it’s only good for new general list books,

and for kids books and stuff, and they have a café now, but good for naught else and no rare books or anything used etc.  Otherwise

I have to drive to Manhasset or Carle Place to find a decent Barnes and Noble shop, which is no substitute for the likes of

The Strand or old Passaic Book Center type shop that’s for sure.   And now I’m ending this depressing post before I start

to bawl and dampen my new Logitech keyboard!

 

 

 

Weekend update and call for tips, memories of bookstores far and wide   Leave a comment

I meant to say if anybody actually finds this blog by chance

and likes it, I would love to hear from book and weird fiction collectors

and fans far and wide and about what the bookstore situation is in

your neck of the woods, if it’s shrinking or disappearing, and where

you shopped years ago if you were a fan from say, the 1960s-1990s

and what shops near where you lived did you buy from/frequent, etc.?

I know some folks used to have to rely on mail order dealers since

they weren’t lucky enough to live near places like The Strand or

Passaic Book Center, or Forbidden Planet (when it was good unlike now)

like I did in the 1980s in particular.   I used to also buy some books

and mags. from Robert Weinberg in the 1980s when I was first

getting into the field, he ran a mail-order only book business catalog

deal from his home in Chicago and that was great for when I couldn’t

get certain things from the local NYC shops or couldn’t get to the

city or NJ.  Nowadays all of this type of thing is online but at least

there’s still a market for that type of business.

I also meant to elucidate that I’m not anti-Internet bookselling and

the whole e-commerce explosion, if I were I wouldn’t be doing a blog,

but it seems to me otherwise that it’s not a good thing that bookstores

brick and mortar are closing up left and right around the world lately,

and I also mourn the loss of Tower Records and Virgin Store, since

these might’ve been big-box stores but they also had books and

magazines and were to be counted on for certain stock and music

and the latest releases, and now there’s zero left of that in my

neck of the woods, at any rate, which is highly irritating since it

means I’m usually forced to go online to download or purchase

music and books and films, but the worst part is with rare books

since I don’t like the idea of not being able to check out the copy

I’m buying ahead of purchase.   This is my main complaint about

E-bookshops but of course there’s also the local loss to our culture

and the arts and the community when things like book and record

shops shut down.   And as I say, e-books are cool and all but

they will never replace rare/antiquarian actual books and

limited editions, and indeed, shouldn’t.    I wanted to just clarify

that I’m indeed as big a techie PC and media nut as anybody online,

but there’s a limit and for those of us who are serious book, music,

and film collectors, digital copies are just not gonna cut it: they might

sometimes be convenient or cheaper, but they’re not worth zilch

from a collector’s standpoint.

Recent purchases list, for kicks   1 comment

Figured I’d mention what I’ve picked up lately, mostly online,
since you know that score already if you’ve read the rest of this blog.

Music:  got reissue of Peter Murphy Should The World Fail To Fall Apart CD (a reissue
of his 1986 1st complete solo studio LP) which was released in July, 2011 from the Cherry Red UK label.
licensed from Beggars Banquet, a 2 CD edition with booklet.   The booklet and liner notes were
ok the notes could’ve been a lot better/more extensive and would probably have been better-penned
by someone more an expert on Bauhaus and Peter Murphy, such as Steve Webbon of
Beggars Banquet UK Records.  I have both Bauhaus boxed BB reissues out so far,
which are of the albums In The Flat Field and Mask, both superb reissues that were
realized with extra loving care.  I had some e-mail correspondence with Steve Webbon
during the first Bauhaus reunion tour in 1998 and he sounds a superbly nice bloke.
The reissue of Should The World disc 2 which compiles all the extended mixes and b-sides
and some unissued stuff like a cover version of Bowie’s “Stay,” which makes the whole thing
essential to Peter Murphy fanatics.

Also awaiting cheap copy of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’
Playback 6-CD box set from 1995 in the mail this week via Amazon.com. Long overdue purchase there.
Mainly I get my music lately via subscription to iMesh music service, I only knuckled under
to web-based music downloading since A. the record shops are gone from my area and
B. it’s a lot cheaper and easier than even iTunes, which I find absurdly expensive and
to have a fairly limited selection.  I’ve heard good things about Spotify but since I prefer
to own my music it doesn’t really appeal to me right now.  Although iMesh you’re
really just renting the music rather than owning it, unless you care to double-purchase it,
which I do not.

Books:

It appears I just managed today (7/27) to replace my unwillingly sold copy of the Arthur
Machen Covici-McGee 1923 limited edition of The Shining Pyramid via another ABE book
dealer, John K King Used & Rare Books, Detroit, MI, it’s a curiously un-numbered
and slightly worn copy but for $28 I’m not complaining, since this is actually less money
than I’d paid for my original copy from the 1995 rare book show in NYC where I’d first
obtained the copy, which was at least $40 at the time.  Most copies of this book are selling
nowadays for at least $100 on up, so I think this is a fair deal even if the copy isn’t pristine.

Last night I received my bit dog-eared copy of the 2005 pbk. reissue of Colin Wilson’s The Mind
Parasites, with new introduction by Gary Lachman, he mentioned it to me on his blog and
of course I had to go get a copy.  Looks great!  Some bookstore in Seattle sent this to me,
don’t recall the shop but will have to research them.

H. P. Lovecraft. Dagon and other Macabre Tales, Arkham House, 1965, 2nd printing, $40.
Got this copy from Cellar Stories in Providence, Rhode Island, a steal at that price.

—- Also was awarded yet another Barnes And Noble H.P.L. (H.P. Lovecraft: Great Tales of Horror) Fall River
Press edition for my birthday recently, a hardcover sort of “best of” of the much larger faux leatherbound
hc edition Complete Fiction of which the corrected and final edition was released in late
2011, and is a must-purchase at $20.  The 20 Best Horror Tales is nice too, as kind of a
best of the best of the fiction, although there are of course, plenty of other such collections
out there right now.  My old friend and horror expert/critic Stefan Dziemianowicz
wrote the introduction to this shorter collection, as he works for Barnes and Noble
the publishing division and this is a Fall River Press/Barnes and Noble edition, published Jan. 2012,
according to the Barnes web site.

Peter Straub. Shadowland.  1980, Coward, McCann and Geoghegan 1st ed., 1st printing, hardcover edition,
signed and inscribed twice by the author.  $25.  Got this from Other Worlds Books in
Providence, leave it to Paul Dobish to offer such an amazing deal.

Arthur Machen. The Shining Pyramid. Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1925, hc with d.j., $35
This was obviously not the absolute 1st edition, or even 1st American, but it’s a nice ed.
and the price was right. Got this on a recent jaunt up to the small but cool Hastings-On-Hudson, N.Y.,
shop Riverrun Books.  The shop is cramped and not particularly set up for browsing, so it’s
best to peruse their online catalog before heading to their shop, or you can just order
online or call them up and they’ll ship your books right to ya.  Seeing copies going for well over
$100 on ABE so this was obviously a great bargain.

Ramsey Campbell. Needing Ghosts.  Legend editions UK, 1990, ltd. hardcover numbered and signed by the author
hc edition with slipcase of this superb horror novella.  Also got this from Riverrun Books, a steal at $25.

Dennis Etchison. The Dark Country. Scream/Press, 1985.  His first hc story collection
and still one of the best short horror modern fiction collections of all time as far as I’m
concerned.  Etchison’s early work was short sharp shock, to the point, urban paranoia type
psychological horror and rooted enough in reality to really give you lasting nightmares.  Got this cheap
via ABE from a dealer in Chicago, I believe, at $23 a steal.  If you can read Dennis’s
story “The Late Shift” and still go into your local 7-11 at 3 a.m., I salute you!  Signed copies
of this are going for upwards of $200 I notice, on ABE Books.  yikes.

Gary Lachman/Valentine.  New York Rocker.  Da Capo Press. pbk. edition.  Gary’s first
memoir about his time as bassist, founding member and songwriter in rock band Blondie
and related topics, follows Gary’s exploits from Bayonne NJ to oblivion!

Shirley Jackson.  Novels and Stories.  Library of America, 2010, hardcover.  As S. T. Joshi
related to me this week, Jackson puts most modern horror literature practitioners to great shame with her
artistry and that’s a direct quote from Mr. Joshi!  Go buy it! Now!  And not the e-book!
Although you’ll save a few bucks if you buy this from Barnes And Noble online.

Harlan Ellison. Shatterday. 1980, 1st printing ed. hardcover. $10.  Got this at The Book
Barn in Connecticut.  A decent copy of a fairly rare tome, but not that rare, and found
out later you can get it for $1 on ABE Books.  Too late.

Remembering the Passaic Book Center, N.J. circa 1980s   3 comments

My friend Sam Gafford on here suggested I hone in on particular posts on

particular topics of lost or recalled bookstores etc., so this post will briefly reminisce

about the fabled and now long gone Passaic Book Center that used to be in

gorgeous, lovely bombed-out downtown Passaic, N.J. from the early 1980s-early 1990s,

after which it apparently lost some partners and had some huge shelf or structural

collapse, and sometime in the early 1990s, moved to nearby Montclair, N.J.

where it still is, but as I found out on a visit last year, is not nearly a tenth as good

as it once was and not even as good as the store had been on my last visit in 1994 or so.

Anyway, the Passaic Book Center was somehow providentially located

right down the block from my dad’s old NJ apartment in Passaic, I used to

go out there with him and my stepmother for weekend and holiday visits

from at least 1980-1992 or so, and I’d somehow hooked up with other

Lovecraftians, most crucially Robert M. Price, after a fateful visit my mom

and I made to Providence, RI in 1982, where I discovered Crypt of Cthulhu

and Lovecraft Studies at Merlin’s Closet Books (another story for another post, and now

also many years long gone) and then Bob Price and I first met up at the Book Center,

which got me writing stuff at age 14 for Bob for his new small press mag. Crypt of Cthulhu, and thus I could also

take advantage of the Book Center’s unbelievable stock of used and rare horror and HPL catalogue,

as well as get more involved with amateur press and small press activities,

which eventually led to my friendships with Bob, S. T. Joshi, and many others

in the field.  I was at a tender age to be getting hooked up with such illustrious

figures, and the Book Center was a dream come true, we had nothing like it

on L.I., and never have, the only thing that could rival it was the old Forbidden

Planet in NYC.   The Book Center was a huge, spare looking two building or room

warehouse type shop with gigantic wooden shelves piled up to the rafters, literally,

with books and mags. and god knows what else.  The floors were littered with

stacks of prob. complete runs of Omni, Playboy, Penthouse, Heavy Metal,

Famous Monsters, and other mags.   Even at bottom on the left stuck into narrow

wooden alcoves were copies of Crypt of Cthulhu, Lovecraft Studies, other small

press horror goodies, used paperbacks, and tons of other great stuff.

And then they had an actual typed up master list of Arkham House and other

Lovecraft and ltd. edition/rare books in the field always available for consultation.

You could spot, for example, the new AH Solar Pons August Derleth slipcased

2 vol. hc box set up on high way above the main top shelving units, tempting

book collectors of all stripes.   That’s why I say you’ll never see a shop like this again.

I used to amble down from my dad’s apt. to the Book Center and spend hours

buying, perusing, and b.s.ing with the friendly staff, coming back loaded with

goodies or at least the latest Lovecraftian publications, playing my video games,

reading my Lovecraftian/horror literature, and watching MTV and pretty much

being a happy little horror nut/junior high-schooler that I was.  Little did I know

then how good I had it, or how absurdly good my luck was that something like

the Book Center was a five minute walk from my dad’s apt. for goodness’ sake!

I’d give a few key pieces of my collection to have this place back and restored to its

former glories, I can tell you that much.  That writer/publisher/Lovecraft/weird fiction

expert/Universalist Minister/Gnostic Gospels-Biblical scriptures expert Robert M. Price

was living nearby and was available to meet with and encourage a young fan was icing on the cake,

and invaluable to my later writing “career” (I’m not calling it that!), which is also

a story for a later post.  One hilarious time I called Bob when i was out in NJ as I did many

times later,  and Bob and his wife Carol were about to head out to see the new movie

The Sword and the Sorcerer but which Bob said was prob. more like “The Sword and the Idiot”.

I think they also attended the premier of Conan The Barbarian, poor folks.

The current version of the Montclair version is a decent basic book shop, but the rare book

selection and horror sections these days are severely limited, and in my

humble opinion, quite overpriced compared to days of yore.   I was severely disappointed on my 2011 visit,

and the only consolation was finding two actual Arkham House books including Richard Tierney’s Collected Poems

fairly reasonably at $20 each including Joanna Russ’s The Zanzibar Cat, but the rest of their rare book section was

very highball-priced. Their basement record section was a vast disappointment,

and I don’t think there was a single Lovecraft book in the shop, minus

one overpriced dog-eared bent copy of S. T. Joshi’s HPL Miscellaneous Writings (1995)

an Arkham House book but not an old and out of print one, priced at an absurd

$100 and not even signed by the editor.  Their regular horror and SF sections are now kind of

woeful and placed up on high so you cannot even browse it easily, something that

doubly infuriated me.  The SF section was browsable but full of standard cheap

paperbacks, common editions, and nothing special as far as I could tell.

I also managed to visit the fabled Tick Tock Diner

on Route 3 for breakfast AND lunch to and from Montclair, the site of

many enjoyable and fabulous breakfasts and brunches with my dad

and stepmother years previous.  The diner’s still great as always;

shame the bookstore isn’t, but the chances of it being frozen in amber

as great as it was in the early 1980s was, of course, a tall order to begin with.

Clearly an era ended in 1994 on my last visit to the Montclair Book Center,

which was still as great as the orig. location, and at which I found

books like the Arkham House Walter de la Mare Eight Tales for all of $13,

among other gems.  We will probably never see its like again.

Introducing Myself   Leave a comment

Hi, meant to introduce myself and let people know who the heck

is producing this fabulous blog that probably, nobody will ever

read.  I’m Scott Briggs, a writer and media guy from Long Island, N.Y.

who loves Horror/Fantasy/SF fiction and films and rock music,

guitars, films, collecting rare, antiquarian books and signed ltd.

editions, and loves perusing actual bookstores, record shops,

etc., and feels the internet culture and e-commerce and e-books

are killing off all of that stuff that I love, and I know I’m not

alone in feeling that way.  So I wanted to start a blog to

communicate my feelings on these topics, and hopefully

connect with other like-minded people online.

As for my own writing, I’ve been published in a bunch of

books the past five-seven years including from McFarland

Inc. and Greenwood Press, working with H. P. Lovecraft

author S. T. Joshi for some of them. I’m attaching some

amazon links to a few of the titles I’ve written essays

and scholarly pieces for the past several years:

 

The Encyclopedia of the Vampire (Greenwood Press):

http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Vampire-Living-Popular-Culture/dp/0313378339/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343176353&sr=1-1&keywords=Encyclopedia+of+the+Vampire

Supernatural Literature of the World (Greenwood Press, 3 vols.):

http://www.amazon.com/Supernatural-Literature-World-Volumes-volumes/dp/0313327742/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343176428&sr=1-1&keywords=Supernatural+Literature+of+the+World

Dissecting Hannibal Lecter (essays on the novels of Thomas Harris):

http://www.amazon.com/Dissecting-Hannibal-Lecter-Essays-Novels/dp/0786432756/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343176462&sr=1-1&keywords=dissecting+hannibal+lecter

American Exorcist (essays on the work of William Peter Blatty):

http://www.amazon.com/American-Exorcist-Critical-Essays-William/dp/0786435976/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343176494&sr=1-2&keywords=American+Exorcist

The Man Who Collected Psychos (essays on the work of Robert Bloch):

http://www.amazon.com/Man-Who-Collected-Psychos-Critical/dp/0786442085/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343176540&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Man+Who+Collected+Psychos

I also indexed a volume on fantasy author Fritz Leiber for Ben Szumskyj and McFarland:

http://www.amazon.com/Fritz-Leiber-Critical-Benjamin-Szumskyj/dp/0786429720/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343176758&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=Fritz+Leiber+McFalrand

My links: (since this didn’t work as a regular page)   Leave a comment

My friend Sam Gafford, otherwise an original member of the Providence Pals
Lovecraft Mafia/Gang/Writer’s and Fans Club a long time  before I, the eponymous
and self-proclaimed “Dagon Kid,” entered the fold in 1982, urged me to do this blog, so his
recently created/updated blog on classic turn o’ the century weird fiction author William Hope
Hodgson gets top billing here.  Hodgson was author of hard-to-pigeonhole classics like
The Night Land, The House on the Borderland, The Boats of the Glen Carrig, Carnacki
The Ghost Finder
and other weird sea-faring and cosmic supernatural fiction:
http://williamhopehodgson.wordpress.com/

Hippocampus Press is run by my good friend Derrick Hussey, it’s been going strong
for over 10 years now, my mom even does some of the book design for most titles,
and I would be very remiss indeed if I didn’t put up the link to his site, since if you’re
seriously into Lovecraft, weird fiction and SF/Fantasy you will want to be plugged into
what Derrick is releasing next, and the unbelievable plethora of titles he’s already
released.  Plus, unlike quite a few more recent small presses we could name, his
prices are kept reasonable and never exorbitant or totally over the top as many new
publishers in the field are.  S. T. Joshi and I met Derrick Hussey when he was working
at Routledge Press in NYC in the late 1990s, and S.T. proposed over dinner with yours truly
present, that he start his own small press in the field, and the rest is history.  I have seen
a few Hippocampus titles on sale at The Strand NYC so they are getting into actual brick n mortar
shops, though you’re better off buying direct from Derrick for extra goodies and other special offers.
http://www.hippocampuspress.com/

ABE Books Rare Book Marketplace, one of the few worthy things online
abebooks.com
I’ve been buying a lot of my recent books on ABE since I have nowhere in the
tri-state area left any longer to buy things like Arkham House books, signed
editions, antiquarian books or anything remotely of the sort.   No folks, Barnes and
Noble just doesn’t cut it.  Borders Books was better by far but now we don’t even
have that!  A pathetic and sad situation.  The music industry is no better and you all
and the book business and retail big box losers will all pay for this and answer for it
later when you realize you’ve turned America into a gigantic soulless strip mall with
nothing to recommend it and no culture of its own left.  Consider yourselves warned.
You’ve allowed this to happen and stood by while an entire culture has been allowed
to be destroyed and have let the Great Unwashed Clodhoppers win.  You are all guilty
and especially the clueless music industry.  Have fun getting laid off forever.

Cellar Stories, Providence, Rhode Island.  I haven’t been in the actual shop in ages,
but they seem great and have some great deals, will ship anywhere, and they’re
big Lovecraft supporters so that’s good enough for me! One of the few good indie
used and rare bookstores in Providence, from what Sam Gafford tells me of late.
http://www.cellarstories.com/shop/cellar/index.html

Riverrun Books, Hastings-On-Hudson, N.Y., an hour drive max. from NYC or L.I.
http://www.riverrunbookshop.com/cgi-bin/rrbooks/index.html

A pretty good old-school indie bookstore that has recently downsized from their
two storefronts to one, and is quite cluttered and doesn’t really encourage browsing,
but their online catalog is well worth a search for some very reasonable goodies,
although I notice other items are absurdly overrpriced such as some Stephen King
and Anne Rice signed ltd. edition pieces.  Hastings is a charming, scenic old historic town to
just walk around and explore and the shop is located literally 2 minutes’ walk from
the Metro North railroad station platform.

The Montclair Book Center, Montclair, N.J. (orig. the Passaic Book Center and a revenant of its
former self, sadly–not a total waste of time, but close)
http://www.montclairbookcenter.com/
This place is ok but really not near its former glories and esp. as it was in the Passaic NJ location
years and years ago.  At least the page has a photo of the storefront but I couldn’t find a photo
of the old Passaic shop or street, sad to say.  Both are pretty plain-looking places but when
you walked into the Passaic shop you knew were in serious book-hunting country, and no mistaking it.

BookThugNation, Williamsburg, Brooklyn NYC–another exemplary indie bookstore with fair prices–I’m
posting a link to the Yelp page for this store, since posting their direct weblink redirects to nothing! Nice going BookThugNation, you guys have a good shop, but need to learn how to do basic HTML or put up a real web site instead of a simple blog that redirects to zero.  But I do love your shop!
http://www.yelp.com/biz/book-thug-nation-brooklyn

Gary Lachman aka Gary Valentine of Blondie– go to his site, now, and get his books they’re great!!
garylachman.co.uk

Kim’s Music and Video, East Village, NYC
http://www.mondokims.com/
This place is still way cool even after having moved several years ago over
from its orig. St. Marks Place location to 1st Ave., I just wish it had kept
more of the book department that it used to have after the move. Most of the
books are now gone, a few on music and rock/punk etc., but mainly just
good for music and films now, esp. good for indie, offbeat, cult, horror,
etc. and mainly for rock and pop music but the prices are often a bit
high, at least for new CDs and vinyl, used are usually a good bargain.
One thing that aggravates me is their film department is immense and
takes up more than half the store above music, but why are the prices
so absurdly high?  I guess cause they’ve cornered that market in NYC now,
but then again Criterion Collection films are expensive no matter what,
so go figure, I guess.  I just balk at paying some of the highballed prices
at this place, although I love their music selection and the help are
reasonably friendly for an East Village hipster type shop.

Academy Records Annex, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y.
http://www.yelp.com/biz/academy-record-annex-brooklyn
This place blows away most current indie record shops in NYC and
even other places in Williamsburg, great for rare vinyl of all genres,
but also used CDs and there’s a really cute tabby cat with white paws
waiting to greet you as you shop.  I found a CD of The Soft Boys Underwater Moonlight
2-CD reissue there last year for $10 you cannot beat that and the copy was mint condition.

Spoonbill and Sugartown Books, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y.
http://www.spoonbillbooks.com
This was the first bookstore I discovered on a few forays into Williamsburg
several years ago.  It’s great mainly for books on art and art history, art theory,
philosophy/metaphysics, social theory, pop culture, music, rock music, and some general literature
and underground type literature and new offbeat releases are always featured on their main tables
closest to the front entrance.  It’s part of the small Williamsburg mall which is
mainly good for expensive chotchkas and overpriced audio goods, otherwise, not much else, but Spoonbill’s
prices are generally reasonable and they also have a nice assortment of indie and offbeat
‘zines and culture/arts magazines at front.  they do have some rare and ltd. edition
type books but not tons, maybe more stock in back if you ask them.

Mr. Cheapo’s Records, Mineola, L.I. NY, one of the few extant decent record shops on Long Island
mrcheapocds.com
This place is ok for rock and pop and classic rock in particular, and cheap or semi-cheap
vinyl LPs, but the owner/primary manager is a bit of a nasty wanker, staff very rarely helpful, and their CD
trade-in values are horrendous, don’t waste your time and hold onto your CDs! if possible.

Other Worlds Bookstore/Paul Dobish, Book Dealer extraordinaire
otherworldsbookstore.com
Paul, sadly, doesn’t have a brick and mortar retail shop any longer, he told me
he folded up the retail shop in 1998, but he’s still doing business online, and
he’s still one of the best, fairest, and most knowledgeable
Horror/SF/Fantasy and antiquarian book dealers in the world, he knows his stuff
backwards and forwards and can be counted upon to deliver the goods,
as promised, every single time.

S. T. Joshi – World Expert on H. P. Lovecraft and a good friend of mine since 1983!
stjoshi.org

site for Morton Feldman and his music, live performances, etc. thank the Gods this site’s still going strong!
cnvill.net/mfhome.htm

SoundFix Records, Williamsburg, Brooklyn NYC yeah there’s tude in WBurg but go there and buy real records and CDS! now!
soundfixrecords.com

The Book Barn, Niantic, CT Old School Bookshop 3 locations way cool with cute cats
bookbarnniantic.com
Their downtown location has some Horror, Fantasy and tons of SF,
but ditto as The Book Revue below, great for general used copies but
almost useless for rare or antiquarian books.

The Book Revue, Huntington, Long Island, NY
Good for used, remainder copies, and general fiction and nonfiction
but precious little else these days, almost no rare/antiquarian books,
and the ones they do have are totally overpriced and not much in the way
of horror/Fantasy or SF.
bookrevue.com

The Sisters Of Mercy home page:
Sometimes I wonder why I continue to hold a torch (carry the Torch for me) for a
band that has refused to release a new studio album, or sign a new recording deal since
1993, leaving thousands of fans disappointed and disgusted for years, but I don’t wonder
anymore, I just support their older music and live shows when they do them, but it’s
getting a bit absurd by now.  He’s making it into a nostalgia act by NOT putting out
a new album, so he’s defeated his own purpose, in my opinion.  But they still have done
at least three great albums over the years, for what it’s worth.  But it’s a shame about
Andrew Eldritch’s ego and stubbornness, it used to seem like bravado now it just seems
like an over-active ego on an over-active, self-defeating ego trip.
the-sisters-of-mercy.com

The Strand Bookstore NYC:
Still a great shop and well worth visiting, if not as fantastic as it once was,
and a damned sight more commercialized than it once was. Their rare book
3rd floor has some finds but not many, mainly to be avoided as they overprice
almost everything truly rare or autographed by the author.
strandbooks.com

and furthermore….   Leave a comment

I hope everybody can bear with me as I kick off this blog

since the new notebook PC I purchased out of need two months

ago, an HP Pavilion DV6, boasts the world’s WORST KEYBOARD

it’s awful.. a total piece of junk with flat, clunky unresponsive

crap keys that are almost impossible to type on, and I type

at least 95 wpm with accuracy, so this pc is really pissing me

off right now!   Quite maddening but I’m making do for now

since I have not much choice, except to buy an external

keyboard and lug that around with me as well.