Friday, April 27, 2012

Bookseller Review: The Book Room -- Richmond

The Book Room
5458 W. Broad St.
Richmond, VA

The Book Room is a new and used-book store specializing in Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Romance paperbacks. They offer their used books at 50% off the list price and have frequent sales. They have stores in both Richmond and Charlottesville, VA.

What we like: For us, finding a Riverside Editions copy of Charles Dickens' Bleak House made us love The Book Room in Richmond.  

What we don't like: It is paperbacks only, and the selection of classics is limited ... unless you're after new Penguin Classic editions of great works.

Would we go again? We'd have to, since we had such a good experience there. We might walk out emptyhanded more often than not, but we certainly would make a plan to stop each time we visit Richmond.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bookseller Review: Book People

Book People
536 Granite Ave. 
Richmond, VA

Book People is an old-fashioned books shop that prides itself on personal service, above all else. They have four rooms and over 20,000 titles in stock of half new, half used and collectible volumes. 

What we like: Off-the-beaten-path bookstore that's simply a house full of books. We definitely like that. Fair collection of fiction, with many older editions. The woman who appears to run it is extremely kind, and very helpful.

What we don't like: The organization system is unique, and not the easiest for browsing, let alone finding what you're looking for. Prices are kind of all over the place, and seem much too high for some items.

Would we go again? Yes, we would make a point to stop here anytime we make the trip over to Richmond.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bookseller Review: Richmond Book Shop

Richmond Book Shop
808 W. Broad St.
Richmond, VA

Richmond Book Shop sells used books, records, back-issue comics, underground comix and vintage magazines. They also have a large collection of prints, posters and postcards, and some original artwork. They keep irregular hours and it is best to call before going. 

What we like: There is a great long shelf full of classics, many older editions and a good amount of hardbacks in the mix.

What we don't like: Parking isn't that great -- we got lucky with a spot right out front. It is basically right on the VCU campus and tends to skew more to college kids. 

Would we go again? Yes. Even if we don't end up finding anything there is enough in the store to keep us entertained. 

Not for purchase, but surely noteworthy

Today we took a walk over to UVa to check out a new exhibit at the university's "Institute for American History, Literature and Culture."

The exhibit, titled "Bestsellers: Popular Fiction in America," just opened last month, and will be on display through August.

From the exhibit's website:

"'Bestsellers' features rare and beautiful first editions from the University Library's Lillian Gary Taylor Collection of Popular American Fiction. Mrs. Taylor compiled a significant collection of bestselling novels and painstakingly recorded details of each book in her collecting journals. Mrs. Taylor's notebooks, authors' manuscript materials, early bestseller lists, scripts and photos from film adaptations, and modern bestsellers complement the books from the Taylor Collection."

It took all of two minutes to find something in the exhibit which was completely jaw-dropping. After initially having my attention drawn to a first edition of Last of the Mohicans, I saw just to its right an original manuscript of James Fenimore Cooper's The Pathfinder, or The Inland Sea.

There, in what must have been a roughly 15x6 in. book, was Cooper's handwriting filling page after page detailing the story that was the resurrection of Natty Bumppo into American Literature. Deborah and I were in awe, to say the least, not only because of what we were actually seeing, but also because the manuscript went a long way toward resolving a question we've been wondering about: How hard must it have been to be an editor back then?

Well, one look at this book and we were convinced that editing and typesetting was a massive task when handwriting was the only means for an author to get his or her words down on paper. The proofreading and the back and forth between author and publisher to make sure everything was just right must have been insane.

Sadly but understandably, we weren't allowed to take photographs in the exhibit, but we did learn that the special collections library at UVa does allow visitors to get a firsthand look at (and hopefully feel of) the items they house, so hopefully we'll have an even more intimate look at that manuscript, and more, in the fall.

Other notable items on display at the exhibit: First editions of The Great Gatsby, A Farewell to Arms, The Catcher in the Rye, Uncle Tom's Cabin, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catch-22.

Another Riverside Edition added

Today, we found No. 18 in our collection of Houghton Mifflin Riverside Editions. We have a "standing order" at Heartwood Books for these books, but since we were in the area, we thought we'd stop in and look around, and there it was.

It's hard to know how many are out there in this particular collection of Riversides, but we keep coming across new ones. It might be time for a new shelf dedicated to the Riverside collection.

Book added: Prose of the Romantic Period, Edited by Carl R. Woodring

Publisher:  Riverside Editions, Houghton Mifflin, B57

Year: 1961

Where obtained: Heartwood Books, Charlottesville, Va.

Price: $2.00

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Overheard at Richmond Book Shop

While checking out our purchase of the latest addition ("The Prairie") to our Signet Classics collection of James Fenimore Cooper's "Leatherstocking Tales," we heard the following exchange at the counter:

Girl, late teens, after seeing our daughter: "I wish my sister would have a baby."

Guy, also late teens, with girl: "If you want your sister to have a baby, you should introduce her to me."


And scene.

That made that little trip worth it.

Four down, one more to go

Richmond Book Shop was the last of our stops on our trip to Virginia's capital Tuesday. There is a wide variety of materials sold at Richmond Book Shop, and not all of it books. We had high hopes on our way through the door, but we were only able to find one item of interest on this trip, another edition of Cooper's The Prairie.

Maybe we were fatigued from a long day. But now we have four of the five "Leatherstocking Tales" in this style of Signet Classics, but the final piece will likely be the hardest to find, as it is the most popular one: Last of the Mohicans.

I am sure we'll see you again, Richmond Book Shop.

Book added: The Prairie, James Fenimore Cooper

Publisher:  Signet Classics, The New American Library

Year: 1964

Where obtained: Richmond Book Shop, Richmond, Va.

Price: $3.00

Pretty Bleak-ing awesome find

For a while now, Deborah has been telling me that I should read Charles Dickens' Bleak House. She believes I will like it. I don't have any reason to doubt her. But in addition to having some other planned reading to get through before I am ready to get my Bleak on, there was one small problem we were finding: despite the abundance of Charles Dickens works out there, for some reason, we were coming up empty on Bleak House.

Enter The Book Room in Richmond, the first of the booksellers we visited on our trip Tuesday. We arrived at around the same time that our daughter was a bit hungry, so I suggested that I go in alone to scope the place out, to see if it was worth us all piling out of the car.

On first glance, once I entered, I wasn't so sure. Not that there weren't a lot of books there, but it didn't appear that we were going to find anything on our unwritten list. I wandered through the shelves of current fiction, mostly the kind of stuff you might find at an airport bookstore, until spotting a single, narrow yet tall bookcase in the back. It was marked "Classics" and had a small sign on it saying "Minimum $1.75." 

They were all paperbacks on these shelves, and many were fairly recent editions. As I scanned, I believed I was closer and closer to leaving and moving on to the next bookstore, but then I saw it. I couldn't believe it. I did walk out, and went straight to the car to tell Deborah she needed to come in.

I brought her to the same shelves, and picked up my discovery. I don't remember exactly, but she may have squealed when she saw that not only did I find Bleak House, but it was a Riverside Editions Bleak House in the style of Riverside Editions that we have been slowly collecting as we find them. And I think it's the earliest-dated one in our collection.

Bliss at The Book Room in Richmond. It was our first stop of the day, but already the trip was a rousing success.

Book added: Bleak House, Charles Dickens

Publisher:  Riverside Editions, Houghton Mifflin, B4

Year: 1956

Where obtained: The Book Room, Richmond, Va.

Price: $2.00

The books and the bees

A small parking lot to the side of a house, a few tables out front lining the sidewalk on the way toward the front door, a man either asleep or passed out taking in the sun from one of the Adirondack chairs on the lawn.

Welcome to Book People in Richmond, our next stop on today's adventure.

It's literally a house filled with books, and upon first entering, there was a small cart up front with some older editions of Hawthorne and others, but nothing that jumped out at us. After getting our tour of their very unique way of organizing their shelves (read: not really organized that much at all), Deborah headed toward the back rooms and I started in the front.

I eventually made my way to the back, where I located a Riverside Edition. Maybe the most obscure Riverside Edition out there -- Minor Classics of Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. I -- and though it had clearly seen better days (and some water), it had to come home with us.

Deborah also found a cookbook there, for recipes using honey, and while checking out, the owner (or one of the owners) of Book People, a nice lady probably in her 60s with a northern European accent, said to me: "My mother used to have the northern-most beehive in the world, in Iceland. It didn't last very long, it's too cold."

That's kind of an impressive distinction, though, no matter how long it lasted.

Book added: Minor Classics of Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. I, Buckler, William E., ed.

Publisher:  Riverside Editions, Houghton Mifflin, B107

Year: 1967

Where obtained: Book People, Richmond, Va.

Price: $2.00

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bookseller Review: McIntire Rd. Book Exchange

McIntire Road Book Exchange
611 McIntire Rd.
Charlottesville, VA

The McIntire Road Book Exchange is a walk-in bin located at the far end of the Recycling Center. A place to donate old books, and find new (old) ones. 

What we like: There is always the chance of making an excellent find as the contents of the bin are constantly changing. You really have to dig though -- through stuffed cardboard boxes, stacks on the floor, and haphazard shelving -- and that makes it all the more exciting.

What we don't like: It seems to be heavy on medical reference books and textbooks. 

Would we go again? Definitely. Everyday that people go there to drop off their recycling means the possibility of new books being added to the collection. We try and go every couple of weeks to see what is new. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

'Man, you guys are fast'

On my suggestion, we decided to wander over to Random Row this afternoon, as it had been a few weeks since we'd visited. We arrived to find them gearing for an evening of an old silent movie showing with improvisational piano accompaniment. There is always something going on at Random Row.

As I scanned the fiction shelves, a Jane Eyre with an interesting spine jumped out at me. But it wasn't just the spine that was interesting. When I pulled it off the shelf, I saw the the cover was printed with an erie engraving of a line of uniformed schools girls, eyes downcast save for one, whom I presume to be the title character herself. It gave me a little thrill to look at, so I flipped through the pages and found similarly dark, sinister-looking engravings depicting different scenes from the book. They are fantastic.

I decided I had to have it. I showed it to Kristian and he wholeheartedly agreed with me. He had been busy too, and handed me a hardback copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray to replace our nondescript paperback version -- also with some interesting illustrations.

The owner remembered us from our Sherlock Holmes score a few weeks back, and when his eyes fell on our finds he exclaimed, "Man, you guys are fast! I just put those out today... " He was particularly chagrined about the Jane Eyre, since, as he informed us, the engraving artist, Fritz Eichenberg, is something special. Watch out, Random Row, we're fast.

We later looked it up on our own and learned that it originally came as a boxed set with Wuthering Heights. So now we're on the lookout for that, too.

Book added: Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

Publisher:  Random House

Year: 1943

Where obtained: Random Row, Charlottesville, Va.

Price: $10.00

Book added: The Picture of Dorian Grey, Oscar Wilde

Publisher:  Illustrated Editions Company

Year: 1931

Where obtained: Random Row, Charlottesville, Va.

Price: $10.00

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bookseller Review: Oakley's Gently Used Books

Oakley's Gently Used Books
112 W. Main Street
Charlottesville, VA

Oakley's Gently Used Books has a book collection including sci-fi/fantasy, history, literature, mystery, spirituality, science and much more. 10,000+ book inventory. They sell, buy & trade.

What we like: Tucked away inside a larger marketplace, when you find something here, you feel like you've really found something. They have a decent and changing Classics section. We've seen something one week, and then it's gone a couple weeks later.

What we don't like: A bit heavy on the sci-fi/fantasy for us; the lighting, as you can see, is pretty fluorescent. 

Would we go again? Yes. Because the selection seems to have a good turnover rate, we check back in every once in awhile.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bookseller Review: Gordon Ave. Library Sale

Jefferson-Madison Regional Library Book Sale
1500 Gordon Ave.
Charlottesville, VA

Twice annually (spring and fall), the Friends of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library hold a book sale as a fundraiser for library programs. All books in the sale are donated by the community. The sale lasts for one week and on the last weekend all of the books are half-priced. 

What we like:
Everything about it. Enormous selection of everything, great (great) prices, good cause, nice people working it, lasts nine days (in the spring, at least), a "valuable and attractive" list of rare and antique books, letters, etc. ... we could go on and on.

What we don't like: We can't think of a single thing. Maybe that it's so popular?

Would we go again? We will organize our schedules around it.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Do we have to leave? -- Pt. III

We'd scored the Cooper set and the Modern Library works, and so on half-price Saturday at the Gordon Ave. Library Sale, we were after some of the other things we'd seen but not yet pulled the trigger on.

The doors opened at 9 a.m., so we had ourselves out the door with plenty of time to spare -- or so we thought. Unbeknownst to us, the Charlottesville Marathon was well under way by the time we were headed out, and we hit some serious traffic on our way.

After re-routing ourselves, we made it over with enough time to spare that we had a few minutes to wait in line (or change a diaper, depending on which one of us you ask), and those few minutes in line were not wasted, as I learned that the SPCA Rummage Store is half-price in the book section on the first Saturday of every month. Noted!

Once the doors opened, it was game on. I made a bee-line to the area of the sale where sets were collected, and while I wasn't the first one there, I was the first to put my hands on a collection of Mark Twain's works, a collection of Nathaniel Hawthorne's works, and a collection of Ralph Waldo Emerson's writings. A total of 52 books for $57.50. Done and done.

It appeared that I was the only one after the Emerson and Hawthorne collections, while Twain was another story. One of the men who arrived to the section before me went after a different set first, providing the opening for me to get in and grab Twain. Almost exactly after the moment my hand touched the first book he exclaimed, "Ah, you beat me to it." I actually said "Are you sure?" and gave him an opening (why did I do this?), and he deferred, saying it was all fair and no worries.

We added a few more nonfiction/reference items before checking out, and deemed our three days at the Gordon Ave. Library Sale to be a rousing success. We can't wait for the next one!

Books added: 24 vol. set of the works of Mark Twain (c.1920); 14 vol. set of the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1890); 14 vol. set of the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1883)

Publishers (in same order):  P.F. Collier & Son Company; Houghton Mifflin, The Riverside Press; Houghton Mifflin, The Riverside Press

Years: See above

Where obtained: Gordon Ave. Library Sale, Charlottesville, Va.

Price: $57.50 total

Friday, April 6, 2012

Do we have to leave? -- Part II

So I made it through Thursday -- barely -- without heading back over to the Gordon Ave. Library Sale to make sure I could still snap up the G.P. Putnam's Mohawk Edition James Fenimore Cooper set, but I had to at least check on them today.

As we entered and headed directly toward the back to the section of sets, Deborah thought it'd be hilarious to play with my emotions by saying, "Oh, honey, I think they're gone..." Thankfully, they were not gone, and after the momentary fright, I was determined to take them home that day.

I did a little asking around to see who was in charge, and once I learned that I had to look for "Bill," that's exactly what I did. I found Bill in a makeshift office near the back exits, and approached him like so (paraphrasing somewhat):

"Hi. I am very interested in the set of Cooper novels you have back there, and was trying to wait until tomorrow when they are half price, but am worried they'll be gone. Since the set is not actually complete and is missing the two most popular works, would you consider selling them to me today for somewhere between the $50 price tag and what they'd be tomorrow?"

Bill: "Sure, how about $35."


So that was that. I loaded up one of the sale's empty plastic boxes with my new -- incomplete -- set of works by an author whom I admire and feel a connection to. Somewhere out there I will come across The Last of the Mohicans and The Prairie  to complete this part of our collection.

The fun didn't end there, though, as they had one bookcase dedicated to "small" fiction, meaning physically short books. Which we like, because two of the shelves on the cases we bought from the former Massachusetts congressional candidate do not allow for anything but short books.

Cue the Random House Modern Library hardcovers of the early-to-mid part of the 20th century. We had a couple prior to today, and we like their look. Classic, colorful when gathered together, and many different titles and opportunities to put together a unique collection of those editions.

We added a handful, and decided to sit tight on anything more until half-price weekend begins tomorrow.

Books added: The Republic, Plato (1941); Fathers and Sons, Ivan Turgenev (1950); Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson (1947); The Old Wives' Tale, Arnold Bennett (1931); I, Claudius, Robert Graves (1937)

Publisher:  Random House, Modern Library

Year: Various

Where obtained: Gordon Ave. Library Sale, Charlottesville, Va.

Price: $2.00 each

Books added: The Works of James Fenimore Cooper, (30/32 vols.), James Fenimore Cooper

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons

Year: c.1896

Where obtained: Gordon Ave. Library Sale, Charlottesville, Va.

Price: $35.00 for 30 vols.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Do we have to leave? -- Part I

We walk by the main branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library on Market Street in Charlottesville fairly often. It's on our way to or from a lot of places we go.

Recently, we'd been seeing signs posted on the building for the "Gordon Ave. Library Sale." I'd say our interest was piqued, but having only lived in Charlottesville for nine months, we had no sense of what the Gordon Ave. Library Sale was.

The sale kicked off on March 31, and is slated to run through April 8. Deborah's parents were in town for the first weekend of the sale, so we waited until today to find out what it was all about.

Ten minutes in, we never wanted to leave.

An entire basement of a library, at least four large rooms, filled with bookcases, piled with books, all for roughly the cost of a cup of coffee or less. It was too good to be true, yet it happens twice every year.

On this visit, we scouted the place out, learned what was what and where to find it, and learned that if we could keep ourselves from going overboard all week, our patience would be rewarded with half-price days on the final two days of the sale.

The most exciting find, for me, is one I am trying my best to hold out on until half-price weekend: A Mohawk Edition set of James Fenimore Cooper's novels (32-volume set), published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, circa 1896. Price on Wednesday, $50.

There were, however, two things about this set that gave me pause. First, it was missing the two (likely) most popular Cooper books, The Last of the Mohicans  and The Prairie. With two of the five "Leatherstocking Tales" missing, in addition to $50 feeling like too much on its own merit, it certainly felt like too much for an incomplete set. Second, the set said it had 31 volumes, which it did -- one volume was in there twice.

Choosing judgment over desire, I decided to wait it out, hoping that if no one had claimed them by the fifth day of the sale, that they would still be there three days later.

But that's not to say we left empty-handed. Aside from taking home a mountain of children's books for our daughter's burgeoning collection, we also rounded up various reference items of interest (Wildlife of North America, for example).

We're definitely going back.