The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Book CSI: Stealth Smut

A while back I promised I would start posting on egregious sins committed against books. So here's the first in my series of Book CSI cases.

I recently picked up a large lot of vintage paperback smut and about 2/3 of them had the spines completely blacked out.


Looks like the owner lined them up and hit 'em with the spray can. I guess he didn't want to broadcast his reading taste to the world...like people are going to assume blacked-out mass markets are Remembrance of Things Past or something.

I've seen a lot of interesting things done to these books. Necklines raised with magic marker, pasties drawn on, 3/4 inch staples through the open edge, it's a shame but the varied attempts at censorship are fascinating.

So if anyone finds unique examples of book destruction, take some photos and send them in. If we keep quiet about these crimes they're just going to keep happening.

Shop my Vintage Sleaze Paperback catalog.

8 comments:

Nate said...

I just got a large batch of these myself... all blacked out. Some with black spray paint.. some with electrical tape.

William Smith said...

Hmmm. Any idea how to un-black them? The color fixing on these books was pretty weak to begin with so I'm thinking the painted ones are a lost cause. You might be able to remove the electrical tape with adhesive remover and a microspatula but it would have to be REALLY worth it because it would probably take 45 minutes per book.

Nate said...

My wife collects them for the cover artwork, so in all reality, we didn't really care that the were blacked out. When we purchase our house, they'll be faced out on the wall mounted behind plexi-glass with a wood rail to hold the book up straight.

The only thing that I know that would remove the paint is acetone, but that will almost certainly remove the ink on the spine as well. You're much better off to sell them as is. I thought they were kind of neat as a censored item anyway..

William Smith said...

I've been thinking about ways to decorate with them as well. Considering a folding dressing screen with a book cover in each panel.

Anonymous said...

According to http://www.majipoor.com/pseudolist.php, John Dexter is a pseudonym for Robert Silverberg.

Sleestak said...

I purchased a large number of old SF books at a thrift store once to discover the covers of the SF books were torn off and replaced the covers of the porn. I guess it was so they could be read in public or work and an observer would think the owner was reading Dune or Dahlgren.

William Smith said...

Re: anonymous:

Dexter was a shared pseudonym used by Silverberg and many others including (allegedly) Marion Zimmer Bradley, Jack Moskowitz, Earl Kemp, and more. Untangling authorship on these is one of the more fun things about collecting them

re: Sleezak.

That's fantastic! It's funny that someone would go to all that trouble to disguise his smut with an only marginally less disreputable genre. I wonder if--given the tangle of pseudonyms--he ever matched the true author with their book? I'd love to see some of these if you still have.

zale said...

When I worked in a university library's periodical department, we were forced to deface certain publications. All the pictures in Sports Illustrated and several other magazines had to be stamped multiple times with the library stamp to discourage students with scissors. I hated doing it.