Archive for the Book Care Category

Lost Continents, rediscovered…

Posted in Book Care, New Arrivals with tags , , on March 27, 2012 by Aaron

Well… it seems the signed inscribed copy of de Camp’s Lost Continents that I bought in early January is indeed lost.  It left the US apparently, but it never turned up at my door.  It may appear sometime, but I’m not holding out much hope.  However.  I bought another signed inscribed copy yesterday.  Let’s hope it doesn’t disappear en route like the last.

Today, I was extremely pleased to get my first GP Conan book!!  Conan the Conqueror, from 1950 – first of the seven Conan titles published by Gnome Press.  Hurray!!

These two I expect to be here in about three weeks.  The problems with the lost Lost Continents has made me think a little more on insured, tracked shipping.  While I was very disappointed to not have received the book, it is the only book of the near-100 I have had posted to me over the past three years that hasn’t arrived.  I figure that the money I lost (about $100 including postage) on this non-arrival is much, much less than the money I would have spent insuring and tracking all books of a similar or greater value.  Of course, significantly valuable items of about, I dunno… $150 or more should be insured, but the vast majority of my books haven’t been worth that much.

Well, that’s how I rationalize it at least, so I’m not so broken up about it going AWOL.

Incidentally (assuming they both actually arrive), I’m now only 1 book away from the 75% mark in my GP collection.


Free Live Free

Posted in Book Care, Gene Wolfe with tags , on January 31, 2012 by Aaron

Gene Wolfe
Free Live Free (1984)

This is a kind of a mini-Close Up.  I would like to show-case the book and I also have a gripe to air.  First let’s look at the book, and I’ll illustrate my gripe later.  It’s a large hardcover (Medium Octavo I think) and has rather impressive, bright cover art.

Just as an aside, I picked this up from my girlfriend’s place last weekend and brought it back to camp with me.  The photography was done with my iPhone 4S.  Lets check out the back.

A beautiful wrap-around cover.  This First Edition was limited to 750 copies of which this is number 39.

You can see Mr Wolfe’s signature at the head of the list there on the front free endpaper.  But wait, what are the other three signatures?  Well, second on the list is Carl Lundgren who is responsible for that lovely wrap-around cover.  The next belongs to Richard A. Schindler.

Richard Schindler drew the nice little images that introduce each chapter.  This book also has some (not many) full page illustrations by the last signatory, Rick DeMarco.

Another little interesting inclusion with the book is a special bookplate laid in.  I know it must be special because the artist, though not given the distinction of his own signature in the book, is mentioned with the others on the copyright page.  Joe Shea is his name.

Nice.  Well, that’s the cool stuff out of the way.  Now for the gripe.  I’ll use this book by way of example.

When people – individuals, vendors, whatever – list their wares (books in this case) on eBay or any other online avenue, they should be thorough.  Please look at the book.  Please pick it up and turn it over.  Please open it and have a look inside.  Please take descriptive photographs that don’t cut the edges off or omit crucial parts of the book.  Please list it accurately.  I talked about my recent issue with The Menace From Earth (that was well taken care of by the vendor), and there are other examples that I could mention as well, but I would like to bring this particular book to attention.  We looked at the great cover art earlier, but what a front and back view doesn’t reveal, and what wasn’t mentioned by the vendor (who claimed not to have noticed) was this:

You can see that the jacket doesn’t meet the very high expectations laid down by the front and back images.  Goddam sunning.  I can’t believe that someone selling a very collectable book wouldn’t notice this.  This really disappoints me.  It really, really does.  To be at least a little fair, the buyer (me) does have a responsibility to ask some questions like “Can you please tell me if there is any sunning on the spine?” or something similar.  But when the vendor lists the book as ‘very fine+’ then one shouldn’t really be held at fault for not doing so.  Anyway, that’s off my chest (for the time-being at least) so we’ll try to move on to more positive things.  I hope Seetee Ship doesn’t harbor any nasty surprises…  and where the hell is Lost Continents??

Ballpoint Blues…

Posted in Book Care with tags , , , on January 25, 2012 by Aaron

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I picked up a copy of Heinlein’s The Menace from Earth.  I paid $175 for it plus another $40 for insured shipping.  On the face of it, it’s not a bad price to pay for the second most desirable Heinlein title (if average price is any indicator) from the GP stable (Methuselah’s Children seems to be the most sought after GP Heinlein).  All looked good, and I was quite satisfied with what I paid.  Unfortunately a ballpoint pen had been applied to the front of the dust jacket.  The vendor never mentioned this and it wasn’t apparent in the image supplied.  In fact the description stated “There is no previous owner’s name or mark anywhere in or on the book or dust jacket.”  When in actual fact there is the pen on the front, and also there is a previous owners name on the front free end-paper.  Check out the cover.  First, the image as seen on eBay:

Come to think of it, if I was truly familiar with the cover image, I should have picked up the errant markings.  Now that I know they are there, I can see them well enough.  Can’t see the pen marks, but can see where the original ink has been removed in trying to erase them.  Now two pics taken by myself:

Clicking through on my images will get you a big size look.  You can see the markings quite clearly in the image above.  The pic below gives you a real in your face view.

It really annoys me when the vendor either a) doesn’t have a close look at what they’re selling, and for $175 that’s quite irresponsible, or b) chooses not to disclose any and all flaws, which is just plain dishonest.  Not sure into which camp he falls here.

The vendor did offer a full return refund though, including postage.  That’s still no excuse for any oversight or misleading of the customer.  I could just send it back, but I have it now, and I don’t really want to do that.  I’ve been interested lately in the restoration route so I’ve sent it, along with my now two-piece The Porcelain Magician jacket, off to a book restorer in the States.  They are going to give me a quote on restoring them.  Should be interesting.  No doubt the cost might exceed their true worth, but what the hell, it will be an educational exercise.  With regards to the Heinlein title, it might prove to be worth it in the longer term anyway.  I’ll keep you posted on progress…

UPDATE 26/01: I have corresponded with Jerry whom I bought this book off.  We have resolved this to my total satisfaction.  Jerry is jbs15 on eBay.  Jerry is a gentleman of integrity and cares about books and his customers.  Highly recommended.

Close Up: The Mixed Men

Posted in 1952, Book Care, Close Up with tags , , on September 28, 2009 by Aaron

closeupA.E. van Vogt

This was the second Gnome Press book I purchased after Iceworld.  It arrived back in November last year and I read it not long after.  I just love the cover.  As you probably know, I’m a huge Ric Binkley fan and this is period SF art at it’s best.  What a crazy setup for the bridge of a starship, and I just love it.
It’s a little tatty around all edges, especially at the head and tail of the spine there is some chipping.The spine is a bit loose, you can see in these pics that it’s standing on a slight angle.  With a tight spine it would stand nice and straight.

This is also the second Gnome Press book I read (or third? The Robot and the Man may have been second…), and is a victim of an early attempt at book care wisdom.  The staining you can see on the boards comes from my very own hands.  I thought in order to protect the dust jacket I should remove it to avoid undue wear because of all the handling that gets done while reading.  Big mistake.  I have read elsewhere on the Internet that removing the dust jacket is a good idea, but experience tells me otherwise, as you can see.  The staining comes from the oil on your hands – no matter how clean your hands are there is always a small amount of moisture and oil present.  Repeated handling like this rubs it into the boards.  The wisdom is, as far as I’m concerned and what I would strongly recommend: DO NOT remove the dust jacket for reading.  However, you MUST ensure that the jacket is in a Brodart or similar protective sleeve.  If not, don’t subject the book to any handling (or as little as possible) until you do get a sleeve on.  In my experience, having the jacket in a protective sleeve and on the book is excellent protection while reading.

So, lets move on and check out the rest of the book.
You can see the lean on the spine quite clearly.  I think this is the worst book I have for this particular defect.  Note the scuffing and wear on the bottom edge of the boards and the base of the spine especially.
A closer look at the head of the spine reveals that chipping I mentioned earlier.
Also present on the tail, and you can see very well that wear there.  The jacket also has a distinct crease on the front running the length of the hinge.
The front paste-down has a beautiful bookplate glued in.  Austin P. Haller, MD.  I wish I had some way of finding him, I’d love to ask him about the book.
That is one stylish bookplate.  The pages are fox-free.  Very little discoloration at all.
The back of the book exhibits a few chips and some wear.
Quite clean though.  I remember distinctly when I got this title, looking at the back and thinking, “Wow.. will I ever get these books?  They look so cool”.  Well, I have all of those four now.  Men Against the Stars, Journey to Infinity, Five Science Fiction Novels and Travelers of Space (which I haven’t read yet).

Year: 1952
Paid: $41
Art: Ric Binkley
Quantity: 5000
Binding: Navy boards with red lettering on the spine.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated.
Comments: The dust jacket is a little poor and I wish I was more aware when I was reading the thing.  Maybe a tad over-priced at $41.
Expand Upon:, Internet Speculative Fiction Database



Posted in Book Care on June 20, 2009 by Aaron

Yesterday I reshot the covers of all of the books that I have pics for so far.  There are of course more books I haven’t photographed yet, but I think I have refined the technique (at least for the cover shots) so I’ll get pretty consistent results from now on.

It was an interesting exercise.  I took all the dust jackets out of their protective covers so as to minimize any reflections.  Because most of them arrive protected thus, this was the first time I had many of them out.  I had a good look at some of the jackets and I replaced many of the protectors as the old ones were not up to the standard of the Brodart ones I like to have.

I spent a bit of time in Photoshop last night fixing the pics up.  Nothing too extensive, just upping the exposure and contrast a little.  The major thing was removing the background.  But because I photograph the books in a simple lightbox of my own manufacture it was reasonably straight forward.

The other hassle was that because I replaced the previous images over on the Gnome Press Flickr site, all the links got broken.  I had to go all through this site (and a couple of other places) and repair them all.  But, it’s all done now and I am much more comfortable with the results.

I was very lucky…

Posted in Book Care, New Arrivals with tags , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2009 by Aaron

As I mentioned in this post a couple of days ago, I would be very lucky if I received those books by Friday.  Well I was, and I did.  They are all in good condition as I expected.  Even a little better, in fact.  All except one in dust jacket protectors, but I’ll rectify that later and replace the others – I want bright, shiny new ones on.  I must thank Joe (otherwise known as ‘nycatlady’ on eBay) very much.  He was patient with me, packaged the books superbly and gave me an excellent deal on top.  I highly recommend him as a seller.

Renaissance, by Raymond F. Jones, signed by the Gnome Press co-founder, book designer and cover artist David Kyle.
Space Lawyer, by Nat Schachner.
Address: Centauri, by F.L. Wallace.
SF ’58: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Judith Merril.

Total price $78 + postage.

First time for everything…

Posted in Book Care with tags on May 23, 2009 by Aaron

I’ve been working on a post regarding my philosophy in collecting these titles.  What I mean by that is the way I go about it.  Do I buy acceptable copies or save up for the best or whatever.  Anyway, for the first time a couple of days ago, I picked up a copy of a book I already have.  I’m not too certain of the wisdom behind it, but it was of one of my faves – Men Against the Stars.  The attraction factors were manifold.  Great price – $16, better condition book and second state jacket (I have the first, as you know).  The jacket does have a little tape internally, we’ll get a closer look at that when it arrives.  Here’s hoping it lives up to my expectations…

Close Up II: The Survivors

Posted in 1958, Book Care, Close Up with tags , on March 27, 2009 by Aaron

closeupTom Godwin

I have to add an addendum to Close Up: The Survivors. I pointed out that the state of the browning on the pages in this book was quite extreme.  Along with this extreme browning goes brittleness.  Something I could see and feel, and had emphasised the hard way.  I always try to take great care when I read my GP books because of their age and value, but on one occasion I was a bit careless with this one.  I just brushed my finger carelessly across the left page edges when reaching to turn the right hand leaf, and this happened:

Moral of the story:  Be very careful with your older books.  Especially those that exhibit severe browning of this nature.  The pages become very brittle.

Take note and take care.

Cover your books!!

Posted in Book Care on January 28, 2009 by Aaron

I just finished applying Brodart dust jacket covers to those books in my library that don’t already have them.  They are great.  Brodart is just a brand name and there are other brands available.  Fortunately most of the Gnome books I have acquired already have them and they do a wonderful job of providing protection for those fragile jackets.  Kudos to those sellers that ensure their books are protected.  I only had one Gnome book that wasn’t protected but there were a couple of Gene Wolfes’ and quite a few others that weren’t.  They are now.  Anyone out there who doesn’t use protection for their collection from an accidental action in a moment of distraction, I strongly urge you to do so!!

New Book

Posted in Book Care, New Arrivals with tags , , on December 24, 2008 by Aaron

I’m happy, it is Xmas Eve after all.  All About the Future just arrived, right before I was due to start class after lunch, so I had to wait before I got a look at it.  Looks good.  Better than it looked online actually.  This collection by Martin Greenberg is rather thick.  More detail when I get home.

I must get myself some Brodart dust jacket covers.  Most of my collection have them, but those that don’t, do need them.  Vital protection for the fragile dust jackets of these aging books.