St. Mark’s Bookstore Crisis (possibly averted due to supporters)   Leave a comment

http://www.luckyant.com/nyc/east-village/index.html

Thanks again for my friend Matthew Ross for bringing this story

to my attention, although I’d already been aware the past two years

or so of the St. Mark’s Bookshop crisis, which revolved around not

only lower sales, traffic, but particularly, apparently, around the

dispute with gargantuan landlords of theirs NYU or Cooper Union

or whoever it was, raising the rents on them so much that they

would never be able to stay at their current location on 3rd Ave.,

which they’ been at for many years now.  I don’t get much of

a chance to frequent that shop these days, living back on Long

Island again, but I used to spend a lot of time in that shop,

which is great especially for fiction, alternative and indie

nonfiction and hard-to-find obscure titles and such on all

subjects, some great remainder tables, and their magazine

and ‘zine section is always worth a look, as well as their

quite serious section of art books.  St. Mark’s is a small

shop but for what it specializes in it’s still as good as it was

many years ago, or nearly so.  I’m glad to hear they might’ve

raised these necessary funds to relocate the shop and

continue operations, I fervently hope so.   Otherwise,

that area will lose yet another great indie shop and

we’ll have a St. Mark’s Place with that icky McDonald’s,

a ghost of the once-great bar/club Continental,

maybe St. Mark’s Comics (IF it’s still going?),

and million dollar condos and 5000 Asian fusion

noodle restaurants and cafes.  I wonder if I could

even get a decent falafel sandwich over on St. Mark’s

anymore?   Probably not.  I was over there a few times

a couple of years ago, and it was chock full of

new intriguing restaurants and punk/glam clothing

boutique mecca Trash And Vaudeville

was still there (amazingly, though I never liked that

place that much always being the overpriced attitude-laden

tourist trap it had been for ages, maybe forever) but

otherwise the street is not what it once was.

As Paul Weller and The Jam once sang about another

street in London:  “Carnaby Street/Not what it used to be.”

Same with St. Mark’s Place, or the whole NYC for that matter.

Personally, I think St. Mark’s Bookshop would do much better

in Williamsburg or Greenpoint, Brooklyn these days,

the field there is still wide open for such shops, but

then again if they do that then Manhattan will lose out

and particularly, the primary neighborhood that the shop

thrived in and cultivated for so many years.  So that in itself

would be a double-edged sword to say the least.  I also

wonder how the shop is going to be able to find a more

affordable location given that the real estate market in NYC

(or the outer boroughs, or even L.I. or N.J.) is so absurdly

sky-high these days that only megacorps or shops like

Macy’s or Uniqlo or Urban Outfitters or Armani and other

such mega-rich chains or corporate concerns can really

afford to operate in Manhattan and make any kind of

a profit.  It’s going to be a challenge to find an “affordable”

location and that’s putting it mildly.   One indie shop

The Downtown Music Gallery moved to Chinatown

about four years ago and has not been heard from since:

supposedly the tiny shop (which is quite excellent

esp. for hard to find and alternative music of all stripes,

and is well worth tracking down if still extant) is still

open but only by appointment now and for limited hours.

They might’ve snagged a cheaper location but I dunno

how many are going to schlep down to NYC’s Chinatown

just to seek out the place, as good a specialty shop as it was/is.

I haven’t and I’m a huge fan of the shop, although then again,

I don’t live in NYC anymore.

 

 

A Smithereen recalls The Passaic Book Center   Leave a comment

Well folks, I attended the fantastic Smithereens concert this past Friday evening

on the Rockin’ The River Cruise series in Manhattan, and afterwards

was privileged to get on the autograph meet-and-greet line for the band,

and got a bunch of CDs signed as well as my new Smithereens 2011

tour t-shirt by drummer Dennis Diken, in that instance, and I asked

him if any of those guys remembered The Passaic Book Center,

given that the whole band, including original bassist Mike Mesaros (who

left later and was replaced by Jornacion the eponymous “Thrilla From Manila” who

hails from L.A. originally–spoke to him too and he was a super nice

guy, as were all of the band) almost grew up in Carteret, New Jersey,

it was a total shot in the dark, but indeed, to my amazement,

or not, Dennis Diken the band’s drummer since day one for 33 years,

told me that he not only recalled the fabled The Passaic Book Center

with great fondness, but spent a lot of time going there

even going back to about 1968 or so!!   He also readily

agreed that once it moved later to Montclair, N.J., as I’d

mentioned recently on this very blog, it was just never,

ever, the same and I related to him how I’d gone out

there last year and that I was fairly disappointed in the

book selection, etc.  I told him a tiny bit

about my dad having lived right down the street

from the place and all that, and how it was just

blind luck, really, that that had been the case

but of course this was in the early 1980s in my case,

just about the time the Smithereens were starting

to get the band going, more or less.

So there you are, the word on how

great the Passaic Book Center once was, straight

from one of New Jersey’s most accomplished and

famous sons!   Thanks Dennis! and thanks again

to all of The Smithereens for an ass-kicking show

this past Friday night on the boat, it was a good and

loud, sweaty, raucous night of bracing rock music

as only The Smithereens can deliver.   So even

the mighty Smithereens have weighed in on

how we’ve lost some treasures like the Passaic

Book Center in the past 25 years or so.  So sad!

But at least The Smithereens are still around

and haven’t lost their integrity and are still

going strong after 33 years, for goodness’ sake.

I’ve been a major fan of theirs since at least

1985 and their first album produced by

R.E.M. producer Don Dixon, the album

was Especially For You, the one that

put them over the top on alternative

rock radio and college radio charts,

still one of my favorite albums of all time,

and it was a great thrill to get my CD

copy signed this past Friday night!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The absurd state of the weird fiction (and non-) rare book market and sky high prices of doom!   9 comments

I don’t have time to really go off on this topic right now, but I feel the need

to vent about some of the nonsense I see going on in the rare and antiquarian

book markets and especially as it pertains to Horror, SF, and Fantasy titles.

Basically I’ve been collecting books since around 1983 when I first got seriously

into H. P. Lovecraft and other related authors, maybe even 1982 as far as buying

my first books and Arkham House, etc.  I attended my first rare book show

at a place in Albertson, L.I., around 1983 and I noticed that already a lot

of book dealers there were charging some pretty exorbitant prices for things

like Dagon and Other Macabre Tales by HPL (Arkham House), a mint copy

was around $70 or so at the time which was a bit out of my price range

at that time, given I was in junior high school–ok so I wasn’t the typical

weird fiction book collector at the time. and wasn’t filthy rich either.

I also noticed some pretty absurd high prices at various of the first conventions I

attended starting with the dealer’s room at the 1982 World Fantasy Convention in

New Haven, CT where I met Stephen King and a few other luminaries.  The dealer’s room

was chock full of great dealers and books but egads even then some of the

pricing was just over the top.

 

Flashing forward to 2012 and the past ten or so years and with the

trend of buying/selling rare books and other collectibles online,

coupled with the economy turning total crap, and the rise in the

disappearing bookstores and other brick-and-mortar sources for

rare books and even just general used books and music, we now have

a serious problem, and conditions which are clearly helping give rise

to the worst kind of dishonest price inflation, dishonest dealers,

highballing/gold-mining of prices on books and items which

are listed on sites like ABE and Ebay at sometimes 100x what

the actual book is worth, and unprofessional dealers who ship

books without Brodart covers and stuff like that although granted

some online dealers are not pros and don’t pretend to be, so I’m

not even including them.

I think for now, all I need to do is give one disgusting and egregious

example of the type of horrid offense I’m talking about.  This example

would be this current listing on Amazon.com from a private sub-dealer

who is asking almost $1000 for the 2011 Hippocampus Press edition

of the newly revised and expanded Lovecraft biography I Am Providence: The Life

and Times of H. P. Lovecraft (2 VOLUMES) [Hardcover] by S. T.  Joshi, a small

press limited edition that retailed for $100 the set last year upon

publication, and I believe the title sold fast and the hardcover edition is

now sold out with a paperback cheaper edition on the way soon.  Now,

the copy being offered on Amazon is NOT signed by S. T. or anybody else,

it’s just the book as released in 2011.  In no universe should a book that

came out a year ago and is limited edition but not deluxe per se either,

be selling a year later for $1000 no matter how scarce it might seem to be.

Now, today, August 8th 2012, I check the Amazon page for this title again

and it mysteriously appears that the nearly $1000 listings and dealers are now

deleted, but with five or so other dealers asking almost $500 in some

cases, for a copy of this weighty tome.  The price is STILL ridiculous

and the book came out last year so how could it possibly be

commanding such absurd prices?   I also checked ABE today

and suddenly there are ZERO copies offered for sale there,

but there were a few recently and they weren’t going cheap, either.

I happen to know Derrick Hussey of Hippocampus Press, the

publisher, and he did release this book as a true limited edition

but it wasn’t a signed/numbered/slipcased super deluxe

edition to begin with, in which case, if the retail price was

orig. $500, we might at least have some idea of why the dealers

would be charging this much for such a book, but it wasn’t

so I’m assuming they’re assuming the demand is THAT high

for a limited copy run (it IS limited in that sense, granted) but

I hate to tell them that the demand for a Lovecraft in-depth

biography is not the same as the demand for his fiction!!

And certainly not at $1000 the copy for a recent title that’s

not a true deluxe ltd. signed edition type affair.  Here’s the

Amazon link to the page for this title:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0982429673/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=UTF8&condition=used

This type of thing is basically called abject piracy/hucksterism and this dealer

is clearly playing games, or is just trying to sucker the rich and uninitiated,

either or both, especially when it was up there from some joker at $1000!

This is the kind of thing that is ruining the rare book trade and

it’s a direct result, I believe, of the rise in the preference of dealing

books online and due to the shrinking real-world book market.

Although on the other hand I’ve seen alleged real-world dealers

like L. W. Curry highballing prices on things like this before,

but they usually have the decency to wait until the title is

considered an actual rare or antiquarian book (say 20-50 years or more)

before they start jacking up the prices to ludicrous levels,

and trust me they will eventually do that!

But this latter is just appalling and I hope none of you folks

are dumb enough to fall for such nonsense, but I figure

the dealer’s screwing himself since nobody I know (and I know

most of the people of any note in the Lovecraft field in

particular) would ever fall for such a shameless ruse

and nobody would have the $1000 to blow on one book

that simply isn’t worth the bucks the dealer’s (huckster)

is asking!    This is all sheer madness.

Next post I hope to go into even more detail on

some of the silliness I’ve seen going on in this market

the past several years in particular, I’m just getting warmed up!

Next time I might even mention the absurd offering currently

on Baumann Rare Books web site of the complete Stephen

King Donald M. Grant Dark Tower/Gunslinger trade edition

(not signed numbered slipcased! which were issued for all of those

titles since 1982) collection signed by author/artist and with

a price tag of nearly $25,000 being asked.  Is King’s signature

valuable and relatively rare?  Yes.  Are these books really

worth $25,000?  No.   Not when there were other more deluxe

editions of those titles issued that would actually warrant

such a price.  And mainly with this latter set it’s only

because it includes The Dark Tower The Gunslinger Book #1

but there’s no telling if it’s even first edition/first printing,

or one would at least hope that it is but no guarantees.

In any case I would have expected this set to be expensive,

but I think it’s obvious the dealer’s highballing the pricing

beyond any rational market value, and also considering

demand for King has waned in recent years, and also

considering the dreadful and abysmal state of the world

economy and the fact that a lot of these high-end items

are simply not selling or commanding the values they

once did at auction, for example.  And I’ve been told this

is the state of things by several established and reputable

venerable book dealers over the past decade and even

more recently, and also that things like Arkham House

books are not commanding the prices they once did,

that demand is WAY DOWN, and that auctions

of these items are in many cases not selling or

or taking price hits to sell pieces.  So who is

gonna fork over their $25,000 to Baumann

Rare Books for this sumptuous Stephen King

collection?  Nobody, that’s who.  Unless

Donald Trump turns out to be a King collector

and forks over some petty cash for it, I think

it’s fair to say this collection will sit there for

years or decades, like most of the absurdly

priced nonsense on the pages of dealers

like L. W. Curry (who is not currying favor

with book collectors of more, er, modest

means!) who are clearly billionaires

who can afford to sit on absurdly overpriced

rare stock for decades and not care if they

sell the stock.   And this is just the tip

of the rancid iceberg as far as what’s wrong

in this field lately (or even years ago) and  I’ll

finish Part I here today and continue next

week when I have more time to rant.

Scott

Further evidence of the bookstore apocalypse   2 comments

Just a brief update for this weekend.  My good friend Matthew Ross, who works
for the redoubtable Foundation Center in NYC passed on this dreadful link and news
today, that the Partners & Crime Mystery Bookstore in Manhattan is closing its
doors.   http://www.crimepays.com/

I confess this is one shop I don’t know at all, though there used to be some other
good mystery/suspense specialty fiction shops around the city including The Mysterious
Bookshop or Murder Inc. or somesuch, one of them used to be uptown if I recall correctly.
Anyway, sad to hear that they’re closing as well, guess one might go down there
and secure some good going out of biz sales, if indeed the shop is even still
open for this purpose right now or have they already closed their doors? It appears
from their site that they’re still having a “Thank You” sale, so maybe there’s
still time.  I have no plans to do so since I cannot stand driving into the city
any longer, unless I absolutely have to.  But for anybody that is interested
and can get there, it’ll likely be worth your time and trouble.   I did a fast
search and indeed The Mysterious Bookshop is still very much in business,
located as it is in downtown Manhattan on Warren Street.
http://www.mysteriousbookshop.com/

So, I suppose, there’s still SOME hope.

For my next more substantial post I intend to bang out a rant that is aimed
at my displeasure over how the pricing and publishing pricing practices within
the rare/used book trade online AND off have been degenerating/inflating,
and also how some of the new small presses and other ltd. edition publishers
have been putting out books that are so outrageously expensive that it threatens
to ruin or “snobberize” the field we love, esp. horror, fantasy and SF.  A lot of
dealers on and offline and publishers are now guilty of sheer buccaneerism,
overpricing, and highwaymen type pricing and inflation way beyond what
the books are actually worth, and some of these small presses are pricing
their books at upwards of $500 for signed or ltd. edition titles which,
I would assume, are out of the reach of most average book collectors,
especially younger collectors.  We’re also in the midst of a massive
and seemingly interminable economic depression which is another
reason why I feel these trends are especially inexcusable.

The other issue, as I hope to address, is that the rare book markets
do not have anything like an Overstreet Price Guide book or
other authority to determine basic guidelines for pricing,
unlike the comics world, and of course that’s only a guide
in any case.  I just availed myself of a copy of Overstreet
yesterday, in fact, and ok, a 1st issue of DC Superman at Near Mint
is valued at nearly $150,000, and that’s one thing, but when
I see a copy of my friend S. T. Joshi’s recent Lovecraft: A Life
biography (itself an expanded reissue edition of the 1995 edition)
out from my friend Derrick Hussey’s Hippocampus
Press last year (2011) going for $1000 on Amazon.com,
being sold by some jerk of a private dealer or huckster,
and the copy’s not even signed by S. T., or anything,
and the basic book is only valued at $100 for the 2 volume
hardcover set, I get pissed off!   This isn’t a rare book yet,
it’s not signed, and it’s not out of print yet, and it’s only
a year old, so there’s no earthly reason for some dealer
to charge $1000 for one.  This is the type of wanker I’ll
be taking to task in my next post on this subject!
And woe be to you who are doing stuff like this!  You
shall be excoriated painfully and thoroughly!
Scott

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.