Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wuthering twice

Back in April, I discovered a really interesting edition of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre with illustrations by Fritz Eichenberg. It was our first introduction to Eichenberg's wood engravings -- they are beautiful and haunting and we love them. The Jane Eyre we found was apparently part of a box set with Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, and so we've been on the lookout for Jane's companion ever since. We imagined it would be a long time before we found it to complete the set -- especially on its own.

We're in Cooperstown, NY, this week, visiting family and doing a bit of book hunting, and Tuesday we made a trip to Oneonta, NY, and stumbled upon Rose and Laurel Bookshop when we stopped on Main Street to have some lunch. When we walked in I noticed a section of large books in sleeves, and I made a beeline for them to scan for the Wuthering Heights.

On first glance it seemed they were all of the newer sort, so I moved down the shelves. For some reason my eye darted upward once more, and there, resting on its side on the top shelf, I saw that green spine with gold letters that looked so much like the Jane Eyre spine... only much thinner. I snatched it and gasped, then ran over to Kristian with it behind my back and said, "Guess what I found?!" I was practically jumping up and down. He was as shocked as I was that we actually found it -- we were both a bit open-mouthed. But as we calmed down, we realized that the front cover did not have an engraving the way the Jane Eyre did -- otherwise they seemed the same. Same size, Eichenberg illustrations all throughout. (We had previously found a mini-version of the Eichenberg-illustrated Wuthering.) Though we wondered why and if it was truly the match, there was no way we were walking out of the shop without that book. We might never come across it again... we were so excited! We did find more at the Rose and Laurel, but Kristian will tell you more about that.

With that now checked off our list, we made a quick visit to Willis Monie Books, the used bookshop in Cooperstown. Sadly on this day, our daughter was due for a nap when we had an opportunity to sneak down there, so we were sort of pushing our luck with the visit and had to rush through it.

We split up, and I was one aisle over from where Kristian was looking. We weren't there 10 minutes when I heard a groan and then Kristian called me over. He had a book behind his back and a sort of rueful grimace on his face. "What did you find?!" I asked. From behind his back he produced Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, Eichenberg illustrated, with a brooding Heathcliff engraving on the cover. Unbelievable! This was the one! For a book we thought we might never find, it took less than 24 hours to find two! We discovered that the one without a cover illustration was actually the older version, by two years, published in 1943. The one with the cover illustration, the one that also has the matching Jane Eyre, was published in 1945. Tag, you're it, 1943 version of Jane Eyre...

Book added: 
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (x2!)

Publisher: Random House

1945; 1943

Where obtained: Willis Monie Books; Rose and Laurel Bookshop

Price: $5.00; $6.00

We will not forget to return to Popeks

One website we discovered while creating Get a Spine is called "Forgotten Bookmarks." We had had a similar idea to have a series on Get a Spine to tell about the various items we find inside of the books we acquire, and we call that series "Left in the Leaves," but Forgotten Bookmarks is the gold standard by which our idea had to be measured ... and honestly, we might not even win the bronze in comparison.

It's a great site, very well done, and almost always has a fun/interesting post about something found inside the pages of a used book.

While preparing Get a Spine for launch and digging a little bit deeper on Forgotten Bookmarks, I discovered that the site was run by the same person who owns a used-book store about 20 miles from where I grew up in Central New York. So that bookstore, Popeks Books, quickly became a must-visit on our trip to the Northeast, and Tuesday we had our first opportunity to check it out.

We were fortunate to meet the bookstore's extremely nice owner, Michael, and talk to him a little bit about his bookstore and how he got into the book business. We hope that we'll have a Spine Nine from Michael to share soon, but suffice it to say for now that the origin of Popeks Books is one of the better stories we've heard about people getting into the used-book business.

The short version is that there was an auction about 30 years ago, and at this auction was a van that was on the block for $100... but there was one catch. It was full of used books. The Popek family wanted the van, got the books with it, and then needed to do something with them, so...

As it also turns out, Michael's cousins were high school acquaintances of mine, one being a couple of years older and the other being in my class of 95 people. Small world.

Once again, our daughter's napping schedule meant this visit would be fairly brief, but to be honest, there's so much at Popeks Books that we'd need a good couple of hours to feel like we gave the bookstore the attention it requires. So we'll definitely be back, though we did score a few items on this visit:
  • Deborah found, on the 50-cent rack, an interesting amalgamation of Natty Bumppo's life throughout James Fenimore Cooper's "Leatherstocking Tales." It's called The Leatherstockig Saga, and it takes all of the parts throughout the five books that specifically pertain to Deerslayer/Hawkeye/Pathfinder/Leatherstocking and puts them together in the chronological order of his life (which is not the way the books were first published in their day) to trace the path of his life throughout the five novels. I don't usually like abridged versions of anything, but I have to say that I am pretty interested to check this one out sometime.
  • another Riverside to add to the collection! Joseph Andrews  by Henry Fielding. 
  • a Modern Library double-William Faulkner collection, containing the novels The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. I've once sat on the town square in Oxford, Mississippi reading some Faulkner, so I am kind of excited about this find. 
  • last, but definitely not least, we added two John Steinbeck works, one being an upgrade over a high school-era copy of Of Mice and Men, the other being our first copy of The Grapes of Wrath. Both are in great shape, with the copy of Of Mice and Men being a second-printing done in the work's original year of publication, 1937. There is the number "200" stamped on the inside of the back cover,  but it's hard to tell if this means anything as far as determining the origin of the printing. Regardless, it is an excellent find, and I can't imagine we're likely to come across a better version of this classic that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. The edition of Grapes is also excellent, it's an 11th printing, done in 1940, one year after the work was first published. It's missing its dust jacket, but the cloth cover has an interesting illustration of the migration during the Dust Bowl. I've never read Grapes, but as a fan of Mice and The Pearl, reading Steinbeck's epic has been high on my list for quite some time, so I am excited about this find.
Score one for Popeks Books, and consider us always interested in coming back anytime we are in the area.

Books added: Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding; The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner; The Leatherstocking Saga edited by Allan Nevins; Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Publishers (in same order): Houghton Mifflin Riverside Editions; Random House Modern Library; Avon; Covici Friede; Viking Press

1961; 1946; 1982; 1937; 1940

Where obtained: Popeks Books

Price: $18.00 for the five

There's no place like home...

Wednesday marked the first official Get a Spine visit to the local used-book store where I grew up, Willis Monie Books in Cooperstown, NY. As Deborah talks about here, we had one very interesting experience on our visit, and as she also mentions, the stop was kind of a quick one due to our daughter's need to nap. Thankfully, many more opportunities to browse at Willis Monie await us in the future.

So in addition to what Deborah discusses, we were able to quickly round up a few nice "new" works for our library in the short time we did spend there:
  • a 1953 edition of Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway. I know it's nonfiction, but Hemingway is second to none for me, and good older editions of his works are pretty hard to find at reasonable prices, so getting Green Hills for $5.00 was just fine as far as I am concerned.
  • an illustrated Modern Library edition (1944) of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. This one is in great shape, and appears to have been a Christmas gift from a student to a teacher in 1944.
  • a 1925 copy of The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington. This is one Deborah highly recommends, and we hadn't yet owned our own copy. As an aside, this book smells great.
  • lastly, an upgrade over our current copy of Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. The one we had already was a flimsy paperback, and this is a hardcover published sometime around 1950.
Like I said, it was a brief visit, but we'll have tons of opportunities to keep going back.

Books added: Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway; The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington; Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman; Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Publishers (in same order): Charles Scribner's Sons; Doubleday, Page and Company; Random House Modern Library; Harcourt, Brace and World

1953; 1925; 1944; 1950(?)

Where obtained: Willis Monie Books

Price: $18.00 for the four

Sometimes no plan is the best plan

Our first stop on our trip to Central New York wasn't a planned one. On Tuesday, we were in Oneonta, NY -- home to Hartwick College, the State University of New York at Oneonta, and the James Fenimore Cooper Society, as well as being the former home of the National Soccer Hall of Fame -- to have a little lunch before hitting a bookstore we had planned to visit.

But our parking spot in downtown Oneonta just happened to be in front of a bookstore called "The Rose and Laurel Bookshop." So after a bite to eat, we hit The Rose and Laurel before hitting our known destination.

While our daughter latched on pretty quickly to a Steinbeck novel, Deborah and I collected seven works to take home with us. One of them Deborah talks more about here, while the other six were a random collection chosen for different reasons:
  • Eichenberg! As we've mentioned many times, we have started to be on the lookout for Fritz Eichenberg-illustrated/wood-engraved works, and we found an awesome copy of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, which is an all-time favorite. This edition appears to date from about 1940 or so.
  • a visually striking and well-preserved 1887 edition of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, with "an introductory account of the work by the author."
  • another Riverside Edition for our collection, A Modern Instance by William Howells, published in 1957.
  • a 1950 Modern Library edition of Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, which is a definite upgrade over our current copy. I've not read Brothers yet, but I am definitely looking forward to reading more Dostoyevsky.
  • George Orwell's Animal Farm, another personal favorite, likely a book club hardcover edition from 1946, the year after it first appeared in print.
  • A copy of David James Duncan's The River Why, which Deborah picked up in order to return a loaned copy back to the person who gave it to her.
So, all in all, this was a very successful stop that we hadn't planned on making. Count us as fans of The Rose and Laurel Bookshop!

Books added: Crime and Punishment  by Fyodor Dostoyevsky; Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe; A Modern Instance by William D. Howells; The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky; Animal Farm by George Orwell; The River Why by David James Duncan

Publishers (in same order): The Heritage Press; Houghton, Mifflin and Company; Houghton Mifflin Company Riverside Editions; Random House Modern Library; Harcourt, Brace and Company; Bantam Books 

1940(?); 1887; 1957; 1950; 1946; 1984

Where obtained: The Rose and Laurel Bookshop

Price: $30.00 for the six

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bookseller Review: Willis Monie Books

Willis Monie Books
139 Main St.
Cooperstown, NY

Located in Cooperstown, NY for over 25 years, Willis Monie Books carries general books and ephemera, with a good selection in most all categories. They have over 80,000 books listed online, with a much greater variety offered in the store.

What we like: Since it's in Cooperstown, there's pretty much no way I am not going to like this store. But to be objective, there is a lot to like here for those seeking a book in most every area of interest.

What we don't like: We nitpick, but we always get a little bummed when bookstores don't break out the classic literature into its own section, and instead just have it scattered throughout all fiction. Like I said, it's nitpicking.  

Would we go again? Of course. Every time we visit Cooperstown. Plus, I am really holding out hope that I'll be able to complete my Mohawk Edition set of James Fenimore Cooper's works (missing The Last of the Mohicans and The Prairie) here. It would be fitting.

Bookseller Review: Rose and Laurel Bookshop

The Rose and Laurel Bookshop
273 Main St.
Oneonta, NY

The Rose & Laurel Bookshop is a brick-and-mortar store started in 1977 and is located in upstate New York. They have mainly used and out-of-print books, both paperbacks and hardcovers. They stock many first edtions and have a good collection of local and upstate NY history.

What we like: This place had the feel of a booklover's quaint little bookshop. Not too big, not too small, good variety, and for us, a nice section of classics.

What we don't like: Well... our daughter's legs got really dirty crawling around on the floor... does that count?  

Would we go again? Yes. This was one we stumbled upon by accident, but when we pass through Oneonta in the future, we'll definitely stop.

Bookseller Review: Popeks Books

Popeks Used and Rare Books
457 Chestnut St.
Oneonta, NY

Popeks Used and Rare Books is an independent bookseller which has a wide variety of titles in practically every subject area or interest. They're a family business that has been selling books for around 30 years.

What we like: Multiple classic fiction sections, friendly owner, and solid prices. A large selection of books, rivaling the number to be found in many bookstores located in much larger cities.

What we don't like: It was a little hard to figure out how the store was organized at first, but who doesn't enjoy a good hunt?  

Would we go again? Definitely. We didn't have enough time the first time through, and thankfully we'll have more opportunities to stop by as we continue to visit family throughout the year.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Like Jack Kerouac ... or Willie Nelson

It's time for us to go on the road (again), and this time we're headed to the Northeast to visit family and make some of our old favorites official Get a Spine stops, as well as taking the opportunity to find some new bookstores on our route.

Generally, we head north through Pennsylvania and into Central New York, with the first destination Cooperstown, home of James Fenimore Cooper (and Willis Monie Books). Then it's off across Massachusetts and up into southern Maine, where we'll be exploring bookstores in Portland and along Route 1 between Portland and Kittery, Me.

After that it's back across Massachusetts to the Northampton/Amherst/Easthampton area, where we'll visit some of our favorites like the Northampton DPW book shed and Raven Used Books, as well as making an effort to visit some of the local places we didn't make it to while we lived in that area for just under a year.

If you've got any suggestions of must-visits on our route, please let us know!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

'High Reading Entertainment -- at a Low Price!'

We had a to-do list a mile long on Friday that was going to take us over in the direction of McIntire Road, so we decided to pay a visit to the McIntire Road Book Exchange. We hadn't been in awhile and stuff is always moving there, so we hoped there might be something new for us.

It wasn't a life-altering experience, but we did find a couple of fun things to add to our library. We've mentioned that we have a thing for a particular type of Signet Classic Editions books -- namely because we like the style of artwork on the cover. Today we happened upon three such specimens: Shakespeare's Twelfth Night; Henry James' The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Novels; and -- a particular favorite of Kristian's -- 1984 by George Orwell.

I also picked up a 1961 Dell paperback edition of Helen Keller's autobiography. Not fiction, but I was just last night reading the preface to Maria Montessori's book detailing her educational approach and she mentions Helen Keller as an inspiration. It seemed a happy coincidence to stumble upon it today.

The final thing we found was all Kristian's doing. He was digging through some boxes on the way out and came up with a tattered dust jacket for The Razor's Edge (one of my favorite novels).

On the cover appear two actors in black and white and some text stating "The famous novel from which the Darryl F. Zanuck production was made, starring Gene Tierney and Tyrone Power." Apparently this edition is promoting the film adaptation of this book. Kristian kept digging around, and eventually came up with the book itself. It was printed in 1946 by Triangle Books. The printing on the dust jacket reminds us a bit of the Modern Library Giants we've come across. The back cover is a marketing medium claiming "High Reading Entertainment -- at a Low Price!" I love it! And you can't beat free as a low price at the Book Exchange. The dust jacket is in pretty rough shape though, so we may have to make another visit to Ryan at Random Row for a plastic dust jacket cover -- or, even better, we should invest in some of these plastic covers ourselves for future tattered covers. 

Books added: The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham; 1984 by George Orwell; The Story of My Life by Helen Keller; The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Novels by Henry James; Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Publishers (in same order):
Triangle Books; New American Library, Signet Classics; Dell Publishing; New American Library, Signet Classics

Years: 1946; 1961; 1961; 1962; 1963

Where obtained: McIntire Road Book Exchange

Price: Free

Run, Winston, run! Big Brother is watching...

A few weeks ago, I wrote about replacing a lost copy of George Orwell's 1984, which is one of my favorite novels. I think it's genius.

The copy I found then, at the McIntire Road Book Exchange, was a suitable placeholder while I search out a hardcover copy published sometime within the first decade of when it first appeared in print in 1949.

Back at the McIntire Road Book Exchange on Friday (Deborah tells the full story here), I took another step toward that goal by "upgrading" to a 1964 Signet Classic edition with a great cover. A silhouetted Winston Smith on the run from an evil, lurking giant face looking down on him. Big Brother is watching, indeed.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

It may be hot, but we need a second jacket

We've settled back into work and home life after our time off at the end of June, and while we were unloading our finds from our trip to Cincinnati, we noticed something was awry.

At one of our stops in Cincy, we found a really cool edition of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights that contained wood engravings by the famous engraver/illustrator Fritz Eichenberg. The thing that made it interesting was its dust jacket, which had the title, author's name, illustrator's name and publisher 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 is definitely unique. Sadly, it also appears to be very fragile. Here's a pic of what it looked like when we bought it (left) and what it looks like now (right), after having it with other books in a shopping bag for the trip home. 

The "G" in "Wuthering" is now almost completely gone, the "N" isn't far behind, and other letters on that right-hand side are a little less full than they used to be.

Needless to say, this was alarming, especially since a big reason we added this book was because of the dust jacket. So we had to go to work to save it, or at least try to save it.

Our first stop was Random Row here in Charlottesville. In addition to being the place where we acquired the Eichenberg-illustrated Jane Eyre, we had learned a few weeks earlier in passing conversation with Ryan, Random Row's owner, that he personally covers many of his store's acquisitions with a clear plastic dust jacket. So we thought Ryan would be the perfect man for this job.

And we were right. Ryan said he hadn't seen a dust jacket like this one before, and he would certainly help us out. At first, it was determined that the plastic on our Wuthering Heights was too brittle and fragile to be flattened out and covered in the normal way Ryan would cover a book. In fact, we noticed that the dust jacket is already missing pieces, notably on the spine, from being chipped away as a result of nothing more than being opened and closed.

So we regrouped, and after being unable to find a suitable alternative to Ryan's plastic cover, we decided to make it work for us in a different way.

Rather than use a full dust jacket, we essentially cut a piece to the size of the cover, and just used it as an overlay for the front only, taping to on a couple of edges and to the inside of the cover.

It's not necessarily pretty, but it's a solution that will hopefully do the trick, for now anyway. If not, we're open to any further suggestions on the best way to preserve this unique edition.