Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bookseller Review: Piedmont Books

Piedmont Books
3800 Reynolda Rd.
Winston-Salem, NC

Piedmont Books has over 40,000 gently used books, CDs, DVDs and video games at up to 75% the original retail price. Buy, sell and trade.

What we like:
Piedmont has a surprisingly strong classics section, with a wide variety of titles and age of editions. The prices are fair.

What we don't like: 
It also sells the stuff we prefer not have in a bookstore, but it feels like a bookstore first, and that counts for something.

Would we go again? Considering we feel this was the best bookstore we found in Winston-Salem, we would definitely go back any time we visit.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bookseller Review: Laster's Fine Art & Antiques

Laster's Fine Art & Antiques
664 S. Stratford Rd.
Winston-Salem, NC

Laster's specializes in handling estates and collections and their retail store contains valuable paintings, prints, fine antiques, rare coins, and rare books. Most of their collection is leather-bound.  

What we like:
Upon first entering, we wondered where the books were. But we soon found multiple bookcases loaded with some good titles, and older editions. All hardcovers, many from the late-19th and early-20th century.

What we don't like: Even for what they have, many seemed priced too high. The few that we checked out specifically we know to be pirated or unauthorized copies, a common practice around the turn of the last century, so the prices for those seemed steep.

Would we go again? Yes. The possibility of finding some real gems here definitely exists, so we'd be crazy not to visit any time we were in Winston-Salem.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bookseller Review: Edward McKay Used Books

Edward McKay Used Books & More
115 Oakwood Dr.
Winston-Salem, NC

Edward McKay is a used-book store chain in North Carolina. Their Winston-Salem store has over 10,000 square feet of used books, textbooks, audiobooks, CDs, vinyl records, DVDs, VHS, and video games. Their inventory comes mostly from the public, so their stock changes every day. 

What we like:
There are certainly a ton of titles, and store is well-organized and easy to browse.

What we don't like: For us, many of the editions are too new, likely many of them being used in recent college courses. And we prefer our used-book stores to not also have "Twilight: Breaking Dawn" movie posters hanging on the wall.

Would we go again? Not likely if we go back to Winston-Salem, but we're not opposed to checking out some of the other Edward McKay stores in North Carolina.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Left in the Leaves: Edgar Allan Poe Stories

After exiting the Forsyth library sale with our $5 bag of goodies, I began flipping through the Edgar Allan Poe Stories from 1961 that we found. Inside, I was tickled to find not one, but two little treats. The first is a business card for the Drifters Reef Motel on Carolina Beach, and scrawled on the back is Richard Lortie 670 W 6th ST, 724-9xxx with Sat. 10am. Interesting...

The other funny thing is an old order form for a Nifty Doodles-in-Gold kit. The order form says the offer expires on June 30, 1963. Sweet.

New title (6/19/12): Left in the Leaves

One of the secondary pleasures of finding an old classic is the occasional discovery of some historical artifact within -- but not of -- its pages. We once found a rare-looking butterfly pressed between the pages of a c.1896 Cooper novel. We've read some interesting inscriptions, found dated receipts, old business cards, order forms for products from a time long ago, etc. Our "Inside the Book" "Left in the Leaves" series of posts will divulge any amusing or otherwise noteworthy findings within the pages of our used books.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bookseller Review: Forsyth Library Sale

Forsyth Library Sale
660 W. Fifth St.
Winston-Salem, NC

The Forsyth Library Central Branch holds a two-day, biannual book sale, hosted by the Friends of the Central Library. There is a bit of everything -- paperbacks cost 75 cents and hardbacks are $1.50. The second day everything is half-off, or $5 for a bag. 

What we like: You definitely can't beat the prices, especially on Day 2, when it's a grocery bag full of books for $5.

What we don't like: It'd be unfair to say anything bad about any library sale, let alone one we only visited for 30 minutes on its second day. We imagine there were more classics on Day 1, but even on Day 2, the selection was intriguing.

Would we go again? We wouldn't go to Winston-Salem for the Forsyth Library sale, but we might go back to Winston-Salem ... and hope the sale is happening at the same time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

At least we found the Forsyth Library sale, Pt. II

Monday we made the rounds to the four bookstores, and I have to say that we were mostly disappointed by what we found... or rather, didn't find. In short, the first stop -- 2nd Chance Ventures -- wasn't a stop at all. It didn't exist ... at least as a bookstore, if at all. So 0-for-1.

The next stop, Laster's Fine Art and Antiques, was actually pretty cool. It was an antiques/estate sale shop, and they did have a fair number of late 19th- and early 20th-century hardcovers, including one full bookcase devoted entirely to works in other languages. And while fun to browse, many of the books were priced too high for us -- not too high in general, but for us, relative to whether we liked the editions, they just weren't right-- or we recognized them as old but pirated copies of books we'd like, but not enough to pull the trigger.

On to Edward McKay Used Books & More, a North Carolina chain that is as much a music, movie and video games store as it as bookstore. Not much for us there. A lot of titles, but almost all newer editions, the kind of newer editions you'd find in a college bookstore.

Lastly, and without a lot of hope, we headed out past Wake Forest University to Piedmont Books. Again, this was a multi-purpose shop, but we were pleasantly surprised to find a moderately substantial classics section, in which we were able to improve our Anna Karenina collection by getting a Modern Library edition of the Leo Tolstoy work. Our only edition prior was a 2002 paperback, so a c.1934 copy was a much-needed "update."

So five stops total, and seven new additions. Not great, but we had a good time on the hunt, and on our visit to Winston-Salem. We'd definitely go back.

Book added: Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

Publisher:  Random House, Modern Library

Year: c.1934

Where obtained: Piedmont Books, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Price: $4.00

At least we found the Forsyth Library sale, Pt. I

With a break of four and a half days on my work schedule, our anniversary falling in that span, and with a recommendation for a bakery in our back pocket, we took a little road trip down to Winston-Salem, N.C., this past weekend, and scouted out a few bookstores while we were there.

We had four bookstores on our list, and while none of them really panned out (except for a single purchase), we did also happen to be visiting when the Forsyth County Public Library system was holding their bi-annual sale at the Central Library in downtown Winston-Salem.

It was actually our first stop upon arriving in the city Sunday, and it was the second day of the two-day sale, which meant that all books were half-price, or a flat $5 for a regular-size paper grocery bag of books. There was a "Classics" table, and though it looked pretty well picked over, we did manage to come out of there with a half-dozen titles (below), as well as a James Fenimore Cooper biography, all for a five-spot. Not too shabby.

Books added: The Prince of India, Lewis Wallace (1906); Then and Now, W. Somerset Maugham (1946); Edgar Allan Poe Stories, Edgar Allan Poe (1961); Macbeth, William Shakespeare (1878); Henry Esmond, William Makepeace Thackeray (1942); Cass Timberlane, Sinclair Lewis (1945)

Publishers (in order listed above):  Harper & Brothers Publishers; Doubleday & Co.; Platt & Munk; J.B. Lippincott & Co.; Walter J. Black; Random House

Years: See above

Where obtained: Forsyth Public Library Central Library, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Price: $5.00 for all

Friday, May 18, 2012

Overheard at Daedalus

Man, just entering bookstore: "Rumor has it that you sell the New York Times here."

Sandy (Daedalus owner): "That is a false rumor. We have 100,000 books, but no New York Times."

Man: "Oh."

Sandy: "You can find the New York Times across the street, at Market St. Market."

Man: "OK, thanks."

Sandy: "We have three floors, and 100,000 books. Much better than the New York Times."


I respect the New York Times, but you won't find any arguments with what Sandy said here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Organized thoughts on Random news

One of the two main free weekly newspapers in town -- C-Ville -- ran a story this week on the planned development of a site in town to add a hotel near one end of Charlottesville's Downtown Mall.

A few months back, a similar story ran in C-Ville, and it was our impression then that the development included only a single building, which currently houses a new pottery studio called City Clay. This week we learned, however, that the planned development of this area of town is also going to mean the end of Random Row Books -- as we've known it, at least.

I have written before that Random Row is my favorite bookstore space in Charlottesville. Daedalus is great, and has more books, and will probably yield more for us in the long run, but Random Row is just a great space with a great mission, and we've done well there for ourselves.

We've not yet been in Charlottesville for a year, but we've been around long enough to know that aside from being a really terrific bookstore with terrific people running it, Random Row has also been a valued community space, and a key component in the revitalization of the area of Charlottesville known as Midtown, which essentially describes the geographic area of Main St. between the University of Virginia and the Downtown Mall.

Random Row helped turn that part of town into a destination for the people who live in Charlottesville and the surrounding area, and they helped other businesses grow by proving it was possible to exist in that part of the city. And to know now that it's all going away so that a hotel -- which, despite the jobs it may bring to local folks, is really a business serving visitors -- is going to replace that whole stretch of businesses that has thrived in Midtown, is very disheartening on a citizen level, in addition to how it makes us feel as people who love used-book stores.

What does the impending change say about the value of books in a community? What does it mean that a town long trying to connect its two main ends will witness the removal of community-oriented businesses accomplishing just that, in favor of a hotel serving a temporary, ever-rotating population that has no stake in being a member of the Charlottesville community?

As I said, we haven't lived here very long, and the time we have lived here has largely been spent being either very pregnant or new parents, so we haven't exactly taken advantage of Random Row's community events, but just knowing that it existed in that way was enough for us. It's one of the things that we have loved about Charlottesville, that a place like that can do well here.

So where does that leave us now? We have been planning to visit Random Row for reasons related to "Get a Spine" itself, and now we will certainly add fact-finding about the future of Random Row to our visit. We'd like to think there is some kind "Save Random Row" movement brewing out there, at the very least to help find a new space if the current one can no longer be. But we'll get some answers, and provide an update when we can.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

They find you when you're not looking

We went to Daedalus this afternoon hoping that its travel section would provide some suggestions for an upcoming trip. I have spent a lot of time in Daedalus, particularly in the basement, where the hardcover fiction is kept.

I recall only being on third floor once, last summer when we were looking for some baby books, and so I had little to no memory of what was on the third floor, where the travel section also resides.

While searching for said section, I came across the poetry room, and knowing full well that there are many of the Riverside Editions that we are collecting that are collected works of poets, the search was on. The travel section would have to wait.

And wouldn't you know it, there was another Riverside, hanging out in the middle of the section. That's No. 19 for us.

Oh, and we haven't found anywhere to go on our trip yet...

Book added: Don Juan, Lord Byron

Publisher:  Riverside Editions, Houghton Mifflin, B40

Year: 1958

Where obtained: Daedalus Bookshop, Charlottesville, Va.

Price: $6.50

Friday, May 4, 2012

Talking pub dates with the pros

One of the issues we constantly run into, whether as we look for new books to add, or in cataloging the books we already have, is how to know when the book was published if there isn't a publication date, or if there is only a copyright date.

We'd like our library to reflect accurately the years that the editions we have were published, and we'd like to have a strong sense of the age of the books we want to acquire when we are out searching.

I took this question to the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library's main branch in Charlottesville, hoping a library professional could provide some useful info to help us figure out publication dates where there are not any.

I approached the front desk, explained my question, and was told by the attendant: "Let me get someone from downstairs on the phone." When she reached this next person, she handed me the phone, and I explained my question to person No. 2. At the end of the explanation, I was told: "I'm going to transfer you to Ann, hold on."

When Ann got on the phone, I explained to her what my question was. Third time's a charm, right?

Ann was as helpful as she could be, and very nice, and at the very least, the answer I got made us feel like we weren't banging our heads against the wall about this for nothing. It's apparently a very inexact science, especially with the kinds of books we are mostly dealing with.

It seems to primarily be complicated by the following factors (and likely more): copyright laws and copyright dates having limitations, which we knew; pirated copies of books being somewhat common in the 19th and early 20th centuries, which we are learning; even after both of those, it seems many legitimate publishers of classic literature in the 19th and 20th centuries just didn't put publication dates in their editions, which we find it hard to understand. Why not?

So an edition of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises that is clearly not older than 20 years might only include the copyright renewal date of 1954, but nothing else. And though we know it is published by Hemingway's publisher, Scribner's, or rather the company that uses the Scribner's imprint today, Simon & Schuster, they don't tell us when they published this particular edition.

And we've found similar issues across the decades/centuries, so it's not only an issue of modern times.

The most helpful advice Ann gave us was to use the Library of Congress' online catalog to search for our editions. While not a guarantee of 100-percent success, it has proven a useful tool, and has helped fill in some of our blanks.

Our next stop in search of more info on this subject is to visit the UVa library to talk to some more library professionals, including checking in at the Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Earlier than we thought we'd be going, but we need answers.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Our first recognition as bibliophiles

A hot May day deserved a trip to a local frozen-yogurt establishment, and while enjoying our sweet treats outside on the Downtown Mall, the owner of Random Row Books came walking toward us on his way through town.

We've been into his shop a few times (maybe eight or 10 now in 10 months), had some small talk here and there, etc., but we'd yet to encounter him outside the scene where it's obviously easy to place us.

But as he passed today, he said hello, we said hello, and then -- looking at our frozen yogurt -- he said with a smile, "You guys buy that with the money you got from selling that book I sold you?"

We got a good laugh out of that, wondered whether he meant the Sherlock Holmes or the Jane Eyre, and vowed to let him know soon that we don't sell what we buy. It's only for us.