Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cincinnati is definitely a Riverside city

As we approached The Ohio Book Store, we gazed up at a five-story brick building, with bookshelves visible through the windows all the way. Kristian looked at me and asked "Are you ready?"

Boasting a collection of more than 350,000 books, the Ohio Book Store had us full of anticipation as we walked in the door. There was bound to be
something here for us. It turns out there was a whole stack of somethings, starting at the bottom floor in the paperback classics section. I had a feeling that we might find some Riverside Editions -- it just looked like the kind of place that would have some. 

But the first thing I laid my hands on was a 1962 Signet Classic of
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. Score! I actually got chills. We had collected all but Mohicans in Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales in the Signet Classic printing and we really didn't expect to come across Mohicans any time soon, as it is the most popular of that series. The set has really interesting, colorful artwork on the cover -- it has a sort of stained-glass like appearance that we find very attractive. We're so excited to have all five now. Thanks Ohio Book Store! 

Next, seconds later, Kristian did indeed put his finger on a Riverside Edition --
The Octopus by Frank Norris. The fun thing about collecting this particular style of Riverside Editions -- simply because we like the look of the publication -- is that it means we get our hands on books and authors we have sometimes never heard of, thus broadening our literary horizons. (The Octopus was apparently first published in 1901 and was originally intended to be the first part in a trilogy that Norris never finished. It is about the conflict between California wheat growers and the Southern Pacific Railroad. We'll definitely read it one day.) 

Well, that find opened the floodgates and we found Riverside after Riverside, snagging six more for our collection -- the most we've ever found in one place. They included
Ten Greek Plays, Jude The Obscure by Thomas Hardy, The American by Henry James, The Egoist by George Meredith, and Minor Classics of Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Volume 1. Sadly, we can only increase our total count of Riverside Editions by five -- we'd already found Minor Classics Volume I, but we thought we had Volume II. Since we couldn't remember we had to get it to be safe. Oh well. This version is in much better shape, so we'll replace the other. Our total count is up to 24. 

There are lots of great things about the Ohio Book Store -- many of which
Kristian points out in his post -- but one very cool aspect is the fact that they have a bindery on the bottom floor of the store. They do amazing restorations of old books and have been in operation since 1940. As torch bearers for paper-paged, physical books, we are thrilled that places like the Ohio Book Store and its Bindery are going strong -- restoring and repairing the old books that we love and hope to keep around for a long time to come. We may have a couple to send their way...

Books added:
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper; The Octopus by Frank Norris; Ten Greek Plays edited by L.R. Lind; The Egoist by George Meredith; Jude The Obscure by Thomas Hardy; The American by Henry James; Minor Classics of Nineteenth Century Fiction, Volume I edited by William E. Buckler

Publishers (in same order):
  New American Library, Signet Classics; Houghton Mifflin Company, Riverside Editions

Years: 1962; 1958; 1957; 1958; 1965; 1962; 1967

Where obtained: Ohio Book Store, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Price: $21.00 for all ($2.00 - $4.00 a book)

Fathers and Sons at Ohio Book Store

If you're ever within 100 miles of Cincinnati and are able to go, Ohio Book Store on the Queen City's Main Street is a must. One large building, five floors, approximately 350,000 (not a typo) books, and the nicest people you'll ever meet (more on them in a bit).

We had a small sense of what to expect before entering Friday, we had high hopes that we would walk out happy, and we were certainly not disappointed. Our first (very successful) stop was paperback fiction (which Deborah covers here), and after that, it was upstairs to the hardcover fiction.

A quick note about going upstairs: it was about 85 degrees in Cincinnati on Friday, and the floors above the main floor were where Ohio Book Store's AC didn't exist. We were headed to the third floor, so we were warned about what to expect. In short, it was pretty hot.

Deborah aptly likened what we found on the third floor to visiting the stacks in a university library. Just one giant, open floor with rows and rows of bookshelves stocked with books. The third floor wasn't only fiction, but it made up at least half of what we saw before us.

As we often do when we find large sections like this, we split up and each started from one end of the alphabet. I took Z, and as I worked my way backward, I collected:
  • two Thornton Wilder works -- The Bridge of San Luis Rey (a personal favorite, and an edition published in the same year it won the Pulitzer Prize, 1928) and The Ides of March (on our to-read lists, this edition published in its original year of publication, 1948, as a "Book-of-the-Month Club" selection); 
  • Main Street by Sinclair Lewis, published in 1921, the year after its original publication, and the year in which Lewis was initially awarded the Pulitzer, though the award was later given to Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence;
  • A Modern Library edition of Six Modern American Plays. Eugene O'Neill's "The Emperor Jones"; Matthew Anderson's "Winterset"; George Kaufman and Moss Hart's "The Man Who Came To Dinner"; Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes"; Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie"; and Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan's "Mister Roberts" comprised the collection published in 1951.
Our daughter wasn't really digging the heat on the third floor, so she and Deborah headed back downstairs, leaving me to finish the floor. Forty minutes later, I emerged with one more book, which ties in nicely to the experience we had at Ohio Book Store.

The work I added to our collection was Fathers and Sons  by Ivan Turgenev. True, it is a book we already own (and it's a book I am currently reading). But this was a slipcase, Heritage Press edition (published in 1942) of Turgenev's novel illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg, whom we have come to appreciate via the work he did on copies we have of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. So now that we are on the lookout for Eichenberg-illustrated editions, this was one we had to have.

Fathers and sons is also an extremely important theme at Ohio Book Store, as it is run by James Fallon and his two sons, Mike and Jim. We had an opportunity to talk quite a bit with James and Mike (we also met Jim at the end of the day when we helped close the place down), and the Fallons are incredibly nice and welcoming people who really seem to love what they do. And since we love what they do, we were honored to meet them and be in their book store, even if only for an hour or so.

We'll spend a good deal of time on Get a Spine talking about the present and future of used-book stores, and this was one visit that left us extremely upbeat about the future. The eldest Fallon has been in the book business since he was in middle school, when he first started working at Ohio Book Store, and he bought the business in 1971. His sons both work there, too, and in addition to being booksellers, they run the store's book-binding operation.

We're not sure if the Fallon brothers have families and children of their own, but we get the feeling that if they do, the Ohio Book Store is one used-book store that we can count on being around for as long as we are. And that feeling makes us very happy.

Books added: Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev; The Bridge of San Luis Rey and The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder; Main Street by Sinclair Lewis; Six Modern American Plays, intro by Allan G. Halline 

Publishers (in same order):  Heritage Press; Grosset & Dunlap; Harper & Brothers; Harcourt, Brace and Company; Random House, Modern Library

Years: 1942; 1928; 1948; 1921; 1951

Where obtained: Ohio Book Store, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Price: $30.50 for the five

Tasty finds at the Iris BookCafe

If the possibility exists that we can find some good books and get some good food at the same place, we're there. Such was the case Friday at Iris BookCafe in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

We're not food reviewers, so we'll just keep it short and say that we didn't eat any better anywhere in Cincinnati than we did at Iris, even if all we had were two sandwiches and two cups of coffee. But everything was fresh and delicious, and the seating out back was really, really nice. A real garden oasis in the city.

As for books, the book store is moderately sized, and there is a sort of companion book/record store next door. For us, the fiction section was kind of in the middle of the layout, two decent-sized bookcases full of various works.

Given the number of books we had to choose from, we did well at Iris, walking out with seven new additions. First, a replacement copy of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina published in 1946 that is not only a significant upgrade from our much more modern version, but which also has illustrations done by Fritz Eichenberg, the same wood engraver/illustrator we'd been collecting. These are color illustrations, not engravings, and are very cool.

We also added a collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald's short stories (1989) that is similar to a Hemingway collection we currently own; The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow from 1964; a Modern Library edition of Sinclair Lewis' Arrowsmith, for which he won the Pulitzer, published in 1946; a 1922 copy of Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome: and a first-edition, third printing of John Steinbeck's The Moon is Down from 1942.

Last, but certainly not least even though it's true crime and not fiction, I had to get a "new" copy of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, a first printing "Book-of-the-Month Club" selection from 1966, the year after the story first started appearing in The New Yorker. I picked up that book one night in college and didn't put it down until it was done, but had loaned my copy only to never see it again... so I had to have this one, which is much better anyway.

All in all, Iris BookCafe was a real find, and a great way to start our book hunting on a Friday in Cincinnati.

Books added: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg); The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck; The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow; Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton; Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis; The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli; In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

Publishers (in same order): Doubleday & Company; The Viking Press; The Viking Press; Charles Scribner's Sons; Random House, Modern Library; Charles Scribner's Sons; Random House

Years: 1946; 1942; 1964; 1922; 1946; 1989; 1966

Where obtained: Iris BookCafe, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Price: $30 for the seven

Bookseller Review: Ohio Book Store

Ohio Book Store
726 Main St.
Cincinnati, OH

The Ohio Book Store has five floors of books and magazines of all genres, ages, prices, etc. With nearly 350,000 items to choose from, if you can't find something here, you didn't really want anything to begin with.

What we like: Everything. We wish every city or town we visited had a book store like this. And the Fallons are just good people. Plus, even though we didn't get a chance to see it in action, the book bindery is a cool addition to the experience.

What we don't like: Honestly, we can't think of anything.  

Would we go again? We might go to Cincinnati again just for this store. So, yeah.

Bookseller Review: Iris BookCafe

Iris BookCafe
1331 Main St.
Cincinnati, OH

Iris BookCafe serves up fresh, local food alongside its vintage book collection. Iris carries books on architecture, art, fashion, philosophy, literature, poetry, drama, film, photography, cooking, famous gardens, Americana, and foreign language. Iris offers children’s books in many languages, and apparently hosts the largest collection of Polish books in Cincinnati.

What we like: Delicious food, tasty coffee, friendly people, a great outdoor seating area out back, and a small yet solid fiction section.

What we don't like: Given that we took home a decent number of books from relatively small fiction options, I guess our only complaint is that the fiction section wasn't larger!

Would we go again? We did well here as far as books, and the lunch was easily the best we had in our short stay, so definitely.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A find that makes sense, given where we were

Our last stop of Thursday (after this one and this one) was at The Dust Jacket in Cincinnati's very nice "Mt. Lookout" section of town.

It was easy to see from our first step into The Dust Jacket that this was a place for us. Wall to wall hardcovers of all ages, many of which we would have gladly taken home. But as one of our goals is to stay reasonably well budgeted in our collecting, a $475 first-edition of a lesser-known Hemingway novel wasn't going to be in our sights for very long, nor (though it was close) an N.C. Wyeth-illustrated edition of James Fenimore Cooper's The Pathfinder for $55. That one was tough to leave behind.

We immediately struck up a conversation with The Dust Jacket co-owner Sam Jenike, who was extremely friendly and very welcoming. We told him who we were and what we were doing with Get a Spine, and proceeded to spend about an hour or so talking and perusing the store.

Sam and his business partner, Phil Metz, have been in business at The Dust Jacket for over 30 years, and they seem to still be going strong, which was great to see. It really is a terrific store, one of our favorites, for sure.

We learned a little about the history of the store and the books for sale at The Dust Jacket from Sam, and told some stories of our own, all the while making sure our little girl wasn't terrorizing the collection (we think we did OK, sorry, Sam, if we didn't!).

When it got down to the buying, we ended up settling on two books -- though we wanted more. The first adds another copy of Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage to our collection. I am fairly certain that the copy I have is a high school paperback, and it's pretty lame, so this 1942 Modern Library edition (for $4) is a welcome upgrade to our shelves.

The more exciting find at The Dust Jacket, however, was one on Deborah's list -- sort of.

Back in April, Deborah found one half of a two-volume Brontë sisters set, a Jane Eyre/Wuthering Heights oversized combo box, with both books illustrated by the famous engraver Fritz Eichenberg. With Jane Eyre already in our possession, the companion volume is always a goal whenever we visit a book store.

Deborah inquired with Sam about whether they had what we were looking for -- of all the book stores we've visited, The Dust Jacket has easily had the most oversized-book, sleeved editions -- and Sam said he thought they might... but a search came up empty.

It wasn't until later in our visit that Deborah spotted the "Mini-me" version of what she'd been looking for. Wuthering Heights, illustrated/engraved by Eichenberg, but in a normal-sized book (published in 1946), not the oversized one we're after. But that's not even the best part about this $20 find. The dust jacket on this book -- found at The Dust Jacket -- was the most unique we've seen.

It was clear plastic like many others, and you could see through to the cloth binding and Eichenberg engraving on the cover. But the title, author's name, illustrator's name and publisher were all printed directly onto the clear plastic dust jacket (you can feel each raised letter), so that if you removed the dust jacket, you remove all of that info from your book's cover.

It may not be best way to describe it, but you'll have to trust us: it's pretty awesome.

Oh, and Sam was nice enough to give us the store's dealer discount of 10%. Thanks, Sam!

Books added: The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane; Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Publishers:  Random House, Modern Library

Years: 1942; 1946

Where obtained: The Dust Jacket, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Price: $21.60 for both

Two Significant finds in Cincinnati

Next on our map after the first stop of the day on Thursday was a place called Significant Books. I mean, how do you not go to a book store with that name?

Also north and east of downtown Cincinnati, Significant Books was only noticeable because we saw one street-level white door with an "Open" sign and handwritten sign that said "All books 65% off." Enticing, but when a sale is that deep, you know it can't be for good reasons. Upstairs we went.

In our research, we had found some info that Significant Books was a nonfiction store only. And while not entirely true, it is probably at least 90% true. So our shopping was pretty quick -- but fruitful.

We added another Modern Library edition, this one Antic Hay by Aldous Huxley from 1941, for $1.75 after the discount, and then Deborah found Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, published in 1945, in the dollar box, which meant that one was a whopping $0.35.

A couple of interesting things about these two books. First, we are fairly certain that this copy of Brideshead Revisited is the a first U.S. edition copy, which we are very excited about, and on the "open market" it seems to be selling for hundreds of dollars. We'd never sell, because that's not why we buy, but we mention the selling price out there in the world only to say that for $0.35, that seems a bit crazy!

Second, neither of us have yet read Antic Hay or Brideshead Revisited, but in our quick research of Antic Hay, it turns out that Brideshead Revisited actually mentions Antic Hay! Quite a coincidence, and reason enough to read those two back to back someday.

Borrowed from Wikipedia, here is the mention in Brideshead:
"Picture me, my dear, alone and studious. I had just bought a rather forbidding book called Antic Hay, which I knew I must read before going to Garsington on Sunday, because everyone was bound to talk about it, and it's so banal saying you have not read the book of the moment, if you haven't."
Lastly, while checking out, we had the opportunity to meet Significant Books' co-owner, Carolyn Downing. Carolyn is a lovely woman in her late 60s, and in our conversation we learned the reason for the 65% sale... Significant Books is trying to close its doors for good, so everything must go.

After 30 or so years at their current location, and longer than that in the book business, Carolyn and her husband, Bill, are calling it a day due to a multitude of factors (health primary among them), meaning another great used-book store is nearing its end. We certainly wish Bill and Carolyn the best as they move on to some new adventures (likely sometime this summer or by fall), and even though it was only a brief visit and we might not have made it back ever again, we're saddened to know that one of the great stores will no longer be out there.

Good luck, Carolyn and Bill!

Books added: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh; Antic Hay by Aldous Huxley

Publishers (in same order):  Little Brown and Company; Random House, Modern Library

Years: 1945; 1941

Where obtained: Significant Books, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Price: $2.10 for both

Lions and tigers and ... books? Oh my...

After a lovely Thursday morning spent taking our 8 1/2-month-old to her first zoo -- the very well-done Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden -- it was time to find some books.

We arrived in Cincinnati prepared with a long list of book stores to check out, and since we were already in the car for the day, we figured we'd first hit the ones that were not central to the downtown area.

The first stop, Smith & Hannon Bookstore, was an ominous start. Located north and east of downtown Cincy, it's a small, three-story house with the book store on the ground floor. Smith & Hannon was open ... but locked when we arrived. After commiserating with the DHL delivery guy about this oddity, we then heard a voice from upstairs telling us to just knock on the door and someone would answer.

Not that same guy, though, right? The logic being that if he was the one to come down and open up, why would he tell us to knock first, rather than just coming down to open the door himself? You know, since he already knew we were there...

We knocked... and sure enough, there that same guy was to greet us. Sadly for the DHL delivery guy, our greeter wasn't able to sign for the package being delivered, but soon enough the owner of Smith & Hannon appeared, making the delivery guy happy, and giving me an opportunity to enter the store.

Now, in those few minutes of waiting outside, I could tell that this was not likely to be the kind of store we were going to have any luck in. It was very small, and the editions looked newer and mostly nonfiction.

Once inside, I found that to be the case. Much of the store's fiction was more current. The one bookcase that had older books on it had a handwritten sign on it that said "These books are not for sale." Oh well.

But the five minutes in the store weren't without value. I had an opportunity to speak with Smith & Hannon's owner, and our brief conversation was an example of a familiar and troubling topic we'll end up talking a lot about on Get a Spine, and that's the often-troubling present and questionable future of used-book stores. 

One of the motivations we had in starting this project was our love of used-book stores, and the desire to play some small part in not only getting the personal experiences of visiting them, but also doing what we can to A) promote the bookstores we visit, so others will visit them also, and B) promoting the broad idea that used-book stores are important cultural, social and intellectual institutions that need to exist in our society.

And we're motivated by those two final reasons exactly because of the kinds of things I was told at Smith & Hannon today, which is something we hear often. 

The owner was an older woman -- the age of used-book store owners will also be a common theme in this space -- and I asked her how long she'd been in business, and she said it had been about seven years. I asked her where she gets her stock, and she said it was a combination of her own collection, visiting library sales, and donations. I asked her how it was going, and her reply was, "Oh, it's not." 

There was a lot of sadness in her voice when she said this, and I can't say what she was most sad about. Maybe it was feeling sad about people and where books and book stores fit in society. Maybe it was sadness about a struggling business and the need to make ends meet and pay the bills. Maybe it was neither, or both, or more.

Whatever the case may be, even if Smith & Hannon wasn't the book store for us, we sincerely hope that it's still around if we ever pass through Cincinnati again. That would be a welcome sign to us.

Bookseller Review: The Dust Jacket

The Dust Jacket
3200 Linwood Ave.
Cincinnati, OH

The Dust Jacket has a large collection of hardcovers books, especially leather-bound books. Their inventory has history, literature, mysteries, children's, art, religion, natural history and more, and ranges in price from low to high.

What we like: A book-lover's book store, we could have browsed for hours. Sam, a co-owner, is extremely friendly.

What we don't like: Tough to say. Maybe parking isn't the greatest there, depending on when you go? 

Would we go again? If we're ever back in Cincinnati, you bet we would. One of our all-time favorites. 

Bookseller Review: Significant Books

Significant Books
3053 Madison Rd
Cincinnati, OH

Significant Books deals in out-of-print & antiquarian books. General books plus a speciality of science and technology.

What we like: If these guys dealt in classic fiction, we think this would have been the store to find some great additions to our library. We did find two nonetheless. And Carol, the co-owner, was very nice.

What we don't like: While some good deals are to be found, it's because they are going out of business! 

Would we go again? See above. I doubt we'll have the chance. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Welcome ... and now we're off

It's been a few months in the making -- time moves differently when you have a new infant in the house -- but today we've officially launched into the world "Get a Spine," the blog that chronicles the search for used classic literature, as well as the tales and people we encounter along the way.

You can read more about us and the blog here, but suffice it to say for now, we've already built a good deal of content that we hope you'll peruse, enjoy, and get to know better for the time being. We're headed out on a road trip (see above) to Cincinnati (with a stop in Louisville likely, and perhaps a visit to Charleston, W.Va., too), which will surely lead to new adventures, new acquisitions and new stories to tell in the coming days and weeks.

Some regular features of "Get a Spine" will include: bookseller reviews from the places we visit; a book events and happenings calendar; a series we're calling "The Spine Nine," which asks the different booksellers we encounter the same nine questions about who they are, what they do, etc.; an "Inside the Book" a "Left in the Leaves" feature detailing the kinds of things one finds between the pages of a used book that aren't related to the story at all; an "Overheard at ..." series, where we post some of the fun/funny/odd/whatever things we hear in our searching; links to resources and other sites/blogs of interest to used book seekers; news related to used books and classic literature; an updated card catalog detailing the contents of our library; and, of course, details about what we find, how we found it, and why we added it to our library. Plus, there will be much more to come as we go.

We hope you'll get as much out of keeping up with "Get a Spine" as we do putting into it. It's a celebration of used books, classic literature, and the people who carry the torch for both.

So enjoy, reach out, subscribe(!), recommend used-book stores for our trip or for future trips, get listed as a blog or resource on our site, or do anything else you'd like to do to be a part of this with us. Our email address is under "Contact" on the right, comments are welcome, and we'd love to hear from you.

Happy reading, and happy travels!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tell Big Brother that I am looking for him

Somehow, somewhere, in some way, my copy of George Orwell's 1984 went missing in the last couple of years. It could have been all the moving around, I could have loaned it and forgotten to whom ... I'm not sure.

All I know is that -- because I consider 1984 to be one of the most important works of fiction ever written (lending credit to the theory that I loaned it to someone who hadn't read it) -- I have been looking for a replacement, and though not the one I ultimately desire, today I found a suitable, temporary substitute at the McIntire Rd. Book Exchange.

It's a Signet Classic edition, though a bit newer than the ones we sometimes collect, this one being actually published in 1984 as a "Commemorative 1984 Edition." So that's something interesting, at least. Oh, and this edition has a foreword written by Walter Cronkite. Talking "newspeak" with America's then-favorite newsman.

So that'll work for now, but what I really would like to find is a hardcover published sometime within a decade of when 1984 first appeared in print, in 1949.

On a different note, one thing that we've found McIntire Rd. to be very good for is anthologies, and since I am big fan of short story anthologies, I'm always looking for different collections. We found two such items today.

One is a bit more textbook-ish, titled "Ten Modern Masters" (1959) and featuring Sherwood Anderson, Anton Chekhov, Joseph Conrad, William Faulkner, Henry James, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Mann, Katherine Mansfield and Frank O'Connor. It does, however also contain A) an appendix --  "Stories for Comparison and Contrast" -- featuring the work of Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Guy de Maupassant, Rudyard Kipling, Franz Kafka and Ernest Hemingway, and B) a final section of excerpts from journals, letters and essays of the authors. Score.

The other anthology is titled "The World's Best" (1950), edited by Whit Burnett, which as you might imagine, is a collection of work by authors from all over the globe, arranged by geographic region. Short stories, essays, biographies, poetry,  plays, and more comprise this near 1,200-page volume covering 105 authors (called the "105 Greatest Living Authors") and more than 20 countries. It's an intense collection, one we are thrilled to have added, and even more excited to start reading.

Books added: 1984, George Orwell (1984); "The World's Best", Whit Burnett, ed. (1950); "Ten Modern Masters", Robert Gorham Davis, ed. (1959)

Publishers (in same order):  New American Library, Signet Classic; The Dial Press; Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc.

Years: see above

Where obtained: McIntire Rd. Book Exchange, Charlottesville, Va.

Price: Free!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

There's nothing wrong with being partial

We enjoy buying sets, whether two volumes or 22 volumes, and one thing about the way we buy sets is that they don't always have to be complete ... because that means we have something very specific to hunt for later on, which is always fun.

As a kid, I once put together a full set of Topps baseball cards one wax pack at a time, until all 792 cards were mine. So I am not opposed to exercising a little patience in the pursuit of completing a set.

With that in mind, today we added two William Makepeace Thackeray books to our collection, each a single volume of a two-volume work (at least these editions split the works into two volumes). They were both kind of buried on a $3.00 table at Random Row Books, and they are, I have to say, pretty sweet.

They are Thackeray's works The Newcomes and The History of Pendennis, and each is the second volume of the two-volume work. Both books are published by Smith, Elder and Co. of London/J.P. Lippincott and Co. of Philadelphia, and each was published n 1868. They appear to be from a multi-volume set (22-26 books?) of Thackeray's works.

Their covers are a lovely green, with gold lettering and design, and an intertwined WMT on the front cover. Aside from their age, their relatively good condition, and the allure of having to now be on the lookout for their partners, what also made these two easy to purchase were the illustrations throughout, which in the case of Pendennis were done by Thackeray himself, while in The Newcomes they were done "on steel and wool by Richard Doyle." They really do make the books.

Lastly, one thing that I also really found attractive about these two works was that you can literally feel the printed word on the pages. It's a small perk, but I absolutely love it.

Books added: The History of Pendennis and The Newcomes by William Makepeace Thackeray

Publisher: Smith, Elder and Co. of London/J.P. Lippincott and Co. of Philadelphia

Year: 1868

Where obtained: Random Row Books, Charlottesville, VA

Price: $6.00 total

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

An edgy find at Random Row

I first discovered W. Somerset Maugham in 2007 when I began working my way through the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels (to date, I've read 28). Reading Of Human Bondage whetted my appetite for more Maugham -- but it was The Razor's Edge that made it on to my top five favorite novels. Imagine my delight then when, on a visit to Random Row yesterday, I found a neat cloth hardcover edition from 1944 -- the novel's original publication year. It is in really good condition, and still has its dust jacket -- protected by a Brodart book cover. I was almost convinced that it was a first edition when I looked it up, but I couldn't find anything conclusive on AbeBooks or the Library of Congress site. Either way, it is a perfect replacement for the newer paperback edition I have. Random Row does it again!

Book added: The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham

Publisher: Doubleday, Doran & Co.

Year: 1944

Where obtained: Random Row Books, Charlottesville, VA

Price: $8.00

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bookseller Review: SPCA Rummage Store

SPCA Rummage Store
943 Preston Ave.
Charlottesville, VA

SPCA Rummage Store is a thrift store whose sales supports the Charlottesville SPCA. They sell antiques, collectibles, art, toys, vehicles, furniture, clothing, office supplies, appliances, books, tvs, dvds, audio/video, computers, housewares, linens, sporting goods, and more. Books are half-price every first Saturday of the month.

What we like: On the first-Saturday sale, at $0.50 a paperback and $1.50 for hardcovers, there is always bound to be something we'll take home with us. 

What we don't like: The classics section is pretty small. 

Would we go again? Every first Saturday of the month, if we can make it. 

Books for every variety of taste and opinion

We had big plans for this Saturday morning. A leisurely trip to our farm for some fresh veggies, then off to the SPCA Rummage store! The first Saturday of the month their books are half-price (regularly $3 hardcovers, $1 paperbacks) and we've been meaning to hit up the sale for awhile now, but kept missing it. Well, a few exciting home improvement projects and an eight-month-old who refused to nap without her mama meant we got a much later start than we had planned, which in turn meant I was hitting up the sale solo (with the baby) since Kristian had to work this afternoon.

We've been to the Rummage store many times -- it is a great thrift store all around -- but I had never really checked out the book section before. There was a small classics shelf with a mix of paperback and hardcover. On first scan, I didn't see much to get excited about, but as I examined more closely -- in between picking up dropped toys -- I came away with a few pretty good ones. On a prior visit, Kristian saw that they had the same 1964 paperback edition of The Awakening that we have, only without the sun-bleached cover, so that came home with me today. In addition to that, I found a funky paperback copy of Death in Venice by Thomas Mann that I liked, and a 1953 hardcover edition of The Magic Mountain, also by Thomas Mann -- nothing super special about it, but I've been wanting to read it and for $1.50 I figured, why not?

I also came home with a small hardcover Modern Library of "The Collected Stories of Dorothy Parker". But what I was most excited about was the copy of "The Best Known Novels of George Elliot" -- those being, Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, and Romola. A big book, published in 1940, it is a Modern Library Giant. The dust jacket is in pretty rough shape, but it is one of the best parts about this book. The inside of the jacket has a complete list (as of 1940, that is) of titles in the Modern Library and also seems to be the marketing medium. Printed across the top of the list it reads, "Which of these 334 outstanding books do you want to read?" And along the side is printed "Books that appeal to every variety of taste and opinion".

Books added: The Awakening, Kate Chopin (1964); Death in Venice and Seven Other Stories, Thomas Mann (1964); The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann (1953); "Collected Stories of Dorothy Parker," Dorothy Parker (1942); "The Best Known Novels of George Elliot," George Elliot (1940)

Publishers (in same order):  Capricorn Books; Random House, Vintage Books; Alfred A. Knopf; Random House, The Modern Library, Random House, The Modern Library

Years: see above

Where obtained: SPCA Rummage Store, Charlottesville, VA

Price: $5.50