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Geek With (Lots of) Books: My Shopping Trip

So I saw John DeNardo at ArmadilloCon and the subject turned (as it must) to books. And we talked of many things – of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings. And then, the next week, I made a trip to Half Price Books and had a great time. So, I thought, why not share the story of what I wanted, what I found, what I bought, and why. So, here it is.

What I want: Simple. Everything! And lots of it!

What I found: Lots of stuff including many things that used to be mine though I do not believe any of the purchased items fell into that category. I had previously owned several of these titles but the copies purchased were not exactly as I remembered mine.

The purchases:

  • Marvel Essential X-Factor, Vol. 1 – $8.49
  • Marvel Essential X-Men, Vol. 8 – $8.49
  • Neal Stephenson THE DIAMOND AGE hardback, 1st edition $6.98

For $5.98

  • Erte Notecards
  • Christmas Cards (cat sleeping in a library of Christmas books)
  • Leigh Brackett SEA-KINGS OF MARS

For $3.00


For $2.00 each

  • Patrick Suskind PERFUME tpb
  • Philip Jose Farmer THE ALLEY GOD (a nice pb first, missing the first flyleaf page with reviews and descriptions, other wise very good)
  • THE SPIDER #1 (Carroll and Graf omnibus contains SECRET CITY OF CRIME and THE SPIDER AND THE PAIN MASTER)
  • THE SPIDER #2 (Carroll and Graf omnibus contains DICTATOR OF THE DAMNED and THE MILL-TOWN MASSACRES)
  • THE SPIDER #3 (Carroll and Graf omnibus contains DEATH’S CRIMSON JUGGERNAUT and THE RED DEATH RAIN)
  • THE SPIDER #4 (Carroll and Graf omnibus contains DEATH REIGN OF THE VAMPIRE KING and THE PAIN EMPEROR)
  • THE SPIDER #5 (Carroll and Graf omnibus contains (MASTER OF THE FLAMING HORDE and JUDGMENT OF THE DAMNED)
  • THE SPIDER #6 (Carroll and Graf omnibus contains SLAVES OF THE LAUGHING DEATH and SATAN’S MURDER MACHINE)
  • THE SPIDER #7 (Carroll and Graf omnibus contains KING OF THE RED KILLERS and GREEN GLOBES OF DEATH)
  • THE SPIDER #8 (Carroll and Graf omnibus contains THE DEVIL’S PAYMASTER and LEGIONS OF THE ACCURSED LIGHT) (Don’t you just love the titles to Spider novels?)

For $1.98

  • E.E. Smith TRIPLANETARY Pyramid pb 5th printing

For $1.00 each

  • Joe Gores CASES hardback 1st edition
  • Richard Matheson THE BEARDLESS WARRIORS Bantam paperback 1st printing fine copy
  • Ace Double F – 299 Gardner F. Fox THE ARSENAL OF MIRACLES, John Brunner ENDLESS SHADOW
  • Ace Double G-576 Avram Davidson CLASH OF STAR KINGS, John Rackham DANGER FROM VEGA
  • Ace Double G-588 Lin Carter THE STAR MAGICIANS, John Baxter THE OFF WORLDS
  • Ace Double G-632 Mack Reynolds THE RIVAL RIGELIANS, A. Bertram Chandler NEBULA ALERT
  • Ace Double H – 91 Laurence M, Janifer and S. J. Treibich TARGET: TERRA, John Rackham THE PROXIMA PROJECT
  • Ace Double 27235 Walt and Leigh Richmond POSITIVE CHARGE and GALLAGHER’S GLACIER
  • Ace Double 13873 A. Bertram Chandler ALTERNATE ORBITS and THE DARK DIMENSIONS
  • Eugene Manlove Rhodes COPPER STREAK TRAIL, Hillman pb 46 Near Fine condition (Western)
  • William Irish (Cornel Woolrich) NIGHT HAS 1000 EYES (originally published as by George hopley) Dell 679 pb Very Good condition
  • Ross MacDonald THE CHILL Bantam pb Very good condition 1st pb (Lew archer mystery)
  • Ross MacDonald THE DROWNING POOL 1978 Crinme Classics pb Very Good condition (Lew Archer mystery)
  • Ellery Queen THE ROMAN HAT MYSTERY Pock Books 6134 Fine pb 14th printing
  • Ellery Queen THE EGYPTIAN CROSS MYSTERY Pocker 6017, Good paperback 10th printing
  • Erle Stanley Gardner THE CASE OF THE LONELY HEIRESS Pocket 6027 very good pb 4th printing

For $.88

  • Philip Jose Farmer THE LAVALITE WORLD Near Fine Ace paperback 1st printing (5th in the World of Tiers series

Did I mention that there was a 20% off sale going on? So, all the above with tax was under $75. Totally there were 35 individual items (53 items, if you count each novel and movie separate). That’s pretty damn cheap no matter how you slice it.

So, why did I buy them all? Several were no brainers. The Leigh Brackett I had once before, gone in the Big Book Sale (BBS from here on) and one I wanted back. It was on my Amazon UK short list and I would have probably ordered it in the next few months. The Woolrich and Matheson I would have purchased even if I had 10 copies already. They are that good and of course my copies were gone in the BBS (though the Woolrich I had was both this paperback edition and the hardback first in DJ). The Matheson was this edition. The Stephenson was a replacement. It won a Hugo and this was a pretty copy (my old one was signed). (As a side note, in the BBS I sold 19,000 books of which approximately 4,000 were signed. So, to quote Walter Brennan from the old TV show THE GUNS OF WILL SONNET “No brag, just fact. I had lots of cool, cool stuff. Now I am rebuilding and I still have nice stuff. Who knows? One day I may even surpass the original collection. Not likely!)

The Marvel Essentials were a good price and I like reading these collections rather than trying to find all the individual issues (though I think I have them all). The cards were for my wife – no brainer there. The photonovel is based on Ellison and I did not have it before, the condition was good and the price was OK. I left others behind because my basket was already full at this point.

The Ace Doubles were in good shape. I had several of them before. I wanted the Chandler’s and the Janifer/Treibich which is the first in a three short novel sequence that I recall fondly from 40 years ago. And the Davidson. Love his stuff!

The Susskind was a World Fantasy Award winner. Previously I had the hardback first with the accompanying postcard. Today I settle for a nice trade paperback at a good price.

The Spiders were also a no brainer for me. Carroll and Graf issued eight omnibus volumes, each with two Spider novels in them in the 90’s. I like the Spider and I had most of these before (but not all). For $2 each (less 20%) there was no way they were going to remain there. If I had already owned them I would still buy them again to give away or sell.

The Aztec Mummy DVDs were more of an impulse buy. I think I have seen the third one before (THE ROBOT VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY) but I was not sure. I know I do not have them so for essentially $2 a film I went ahead. They look like good fun for a nice evening when the wife is not home. No way will they be shown if she is there. You just get tired of “How much did you pay for these?”

The two PJ Farmer’s are to replace those lost in the BBS. I had both, signed, I got lots of Farmer signed at one convention, something like 50 books, pretty much everything he had out at the time. I still have quite a few books, but I tend to buy the ones I do not currently have and I love them. Phil was a treasure and one I wish I had known better.

The Doc Smith was filling a hole. I have most of the Lensman series in paperback (this is, of course, the first volume in that sequence). Though, amazingly, until recently I had never owned a signed Doc Smith. I had previously owned a true first Buffalo Book Company edition of THE SKYLARK OF SPACE during the 1970’s, but it was long gone before the BBS. Recently I bought a beautiful signed GREY LENSMAN first from the collection of long time fan Darrell Richardson. (Or, GRAY LENSMAN depending on whether you believe the cover or the title page).

The remaining stuff: Eugene Manlove Rhodes was a master Western storyteller and his books are not easily acquired. Plus Hillman Books are scarce, especially the Jack Vance THE DYING EARTH which I had twice before and which is sadly gone in the BBS. I had the Rhodes also and gone the same way. The mysteries: I am sadly under-read in the Lew Archer novels of Ross MacDonald. I read THE DROWNING POOL years ago and recall absolutely nothing about it. I have had THE CHILL before but never read it. The Ellery Queens are more typical. THE ROMAN HAT MYSTERY is the first Ellery Queen and I probably read it in high school. Not sure about the GREEK CROSS. It’s an early Queen and I read a lot of those. The national mysteries all played very fair with the readers, providing all the clues and offering the Challenge to the Reader where EQ gave you a chance to solve everything before he revealed the solution, An innovative process at the time and worth while these days. Joe Gores is just a masterful writer of good stories. I love his work and this is one gone away in the BBS and one of the few of his I have replaced. I also recently got his prequel to THE MALTESE FALCON entitled SPADE AND ARCHER. I have not read it yet but I am looking forward to doing that soon.

So, Geek that I am, this is what I did today and the reasons I did it. I hope it is interesting. If not, oh well.

About Scott Cupp (11 Articles)
Scott Cupp is from San Antonio. He is (among other things) a reader, writer, collector, editor, book seller, reviewer, and curmudgeon. He has been nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the World Fantasy Award for editing CROSS PLAINS UNIVERSE. Among his stories are "Thirteen Days of Glory", "Johnny Cannabis and Tony, the Purple Paisley (Sometimes) Colored White Lab Rat", and "Monikins of the Montgolfiers".

5 Comments on Geek With (Lots of) Books: My Shopping Trip

  1. Guy Plunkett III // September 7, 2010 at 12:50 pm //

    I have fond memories of the Ace Doubles. They were among the first books (as opposed to comic books) that I bought myself, at the Stars and Stripes newsstands in Germany. I’m almost positive my first such purchase (at age 11) was the John Brunner SECRET AGENT OF TERRA / A. Bertram Chandler THE RIM OF SPACE double. I no longer have it, but the cover images <> sure look familiar.

  2. Wow, you came away with quite a haul, and for not too large of an outlay of cash.  Well done!  In my mind no excuse need ever be made for picking up more books.

  3. Well, I can truly say this was not a typical trip to Half Price, but it just seemed like the thing to talk about.  But I was not about to leave any of these behind.  I did also visit HPB in Corpus Christi and San Marcos during the event and found some few good things but nothing like the first trip, though an American first of THE GOLDEN COMPASS and a DVd with three Zorro serials were nothing to sneeze at.  And lots of odd paperbacks for $1 each before discounts.

  4. Sweet haul.

    I live in Wisconsin (we have 6 of the stores here), and have made the wife accompany me on two trips down to Texas, the Mecca of Half Price Book stores. Both times, I took an extra empty suitcase for all the books. We did the HPB Triangle© (Dallas – Houston – San Antonio – Austin – Dallas), and I loaded up on all sorts of goodies. If I had a scanner, I’d post the pics of all my “trophies” (no digital camera for this Luddite).

    I’ve also been to most of the ones in Minnesota, Indiana, Washington & California.

    Yes, I plan my vacations around Half Price Book store locations. LOL

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