The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holiday Sale 10%-20% off

In recognition of my 10,000th book (which sold already, yay!) and the holiday shopping season I'm offering 10% off my entire inventory, 15% off orders of $50 or more, and 20% off orders of $100 or more. The sale applies only to direct sales via paypal.

Here's how to get the discount:

Browse my catalogs, then send me an e-mail with "BLOG SALE 10,000" in the subject line, list the books you want and the "bookseller inventory" number (don't use the ABE shopping cart). Include your address and the method of shipping you prefer (media mail or priority). I'll send you a paypal invoice minus the discount and including the exact shipping charge. [NY residents add 8 3/8% sales tax]

NOTE: Books needed for the holidays should travel via priority mail to avoid unexpected delays.

The sale is on until December 10 (2007 in case you're reading this from the future).

Thanks for looking.

Monday, November 26, 2007

My 10,000th Listing

In honor of Cyber Monday I got on the ball and listed my 10,000th book. It was Governed By Lust by Ray Majors (1969).
Helen had suppressed her lesbian tendencies all these years, and now that she was running for governor, she had to meet Marla--a beautiful blonde who looked exactly like Helen's first love. Her mind told her to run, but her body was saying something else.

It was nearly three years when ago I listed my first book, 000001--a beautiful first edition in dj of Dr. Seuss's ABC....

I was such an idealist then....How far I've fallen. Maybe if one of you had purchased my Seuss, it all could have turned out differently.

Ah well, no turning back now.

Lot's more sleaze in my pulp fiction cover gallery.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dover Books Order Sheet 1961

I just found this order sheet for 1961 Dover new releases folded in a book (click on image for larger version). Dover was the first publisher I learned to watch for in my early reading career--and with such diverse offerings as Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes and Finger Prints, Palms and Soles, it's easy to see why they made an impression.

For those who don't know, Dover specialized in obscure public domain titles that hadn't seen print for decades. The books were chosen from widely varied fields and many were offered in facsimile editions including the original type design and illustrations. This definitely awakened a taste for out-of-the-way books to which I owe my present livelihood (okay, maybe it's a more of a lethargihood).

Print-on-demand, Project Gutenberg, Google Books and other digital delivery systems have put a hurt on this business model and Dover's current focus is on clip art (with CD-roms), beautiful ethnographic and mythological coloring books and thrift editions of staple reading-list novellas.

I started to compile a scouting list of Dover books that have a decent resale value ($20 and up) but I stalled since the market is in such flux. Maybe, I'll get back to it after the holiday.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Analysis of the Relister

Bookride recently posted a sharp analysis of the relister phenomenon, using a single book to track the ridiculous process of price inflation:
The book goes out of print and copies start appearing at about £300 and actually sell. About a year ago there were copies on Amazon at $300 to $500. While they are still around a RELISTER (the villain of the piece) relists the genuine copies at £900 (under a thousand they tend to treble up, over that a near double is attempted.) He does not own the book but if lucky enough to get an order will buy the £300 copy and pocket the difference. Meanwhile a slightly dim bookseller flown with greed and ignorance gets a genuine copy and sees the £900 price and not realising that it's a relister's price puts £800 on his copy. All cheaper copies sell, the £900 pragmatic relister now has only the £800 one to sell if he gets an order, a crap profit and risky to boot, so he now relists at £1400 - an almost certifiable price....
Check out the full post. Hopefully it will encourage booksellers to dig around a bit more before optimistically accepting an unachievable price.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Vintage Matchbooks

I just purchased several boxes of books and ephemera from the combined estate of a 60s fashion-plate, champion Siamese cat fancier and her husband, an award-winning toast-master. A VERY interesting mix of material that I'll be listing and hi-lighting over the next few weeks.

I also found a basketful of vintage matchbooks that I couldn't resist. Here's a few:

I don't know much about them but the graphics are beautiful. I never knew that print advertising could be done on the matchsticks themselves.

So, I get the cross-promotion with bowling and steak but fresh milk and nicotine? Doesn't seem like a taste sensation.

It occurs to me that the smoking ban in restaurants must have been devastating to this hobby. Makes me want to do Hang Fire Books matches...maybe with a bookshelf design on the sticks.... Probably not a good idea though. They might combust in transit.

Now I have some suitable matches for my pin-up girl ashtray.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Freebird Books changes hands

Freebird Books in Red Hook Brooklyn was just purchased by Pete Miller, a publicist with Walker/Bloomsbury. Freebird is a mixed-stock new and used bookstore with a special focus on small and local presses. Since it's a haul for me, I've only been a couple of times (under the previous management) but I enjoyed the vibe, the stock, and the yummy coffee and sweets.

Miller claims that he wants it to remain a place where people “can go and hang out and not feel pressured to buy something”, but do him a favor and buy something anyway. NOTE: The store has limited hours (Thurs-Fri 6-10 [beginning after Thanksgiving weekend]; Sat-Sun 10-10), I guess because of neighborhood foot traffic and staffing costs.

While you're waiting for Freebird to open, have a meal at Alma a high-end (but not terribly high-priced) Mexican restaurant a few doors down. They have a rooftop deck with a great view of Manhattan (it's even heated and open in the winter). Everything I've tried is delicious.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Hard-boiled Deja Vu

The Rap Sheet--a great crime-fiction blog--has done a series of posts on "Copycat Covers"--stock images that have been recycled in multiple designs.

These book to book comparisons offer a fascinating insight into the design process and there are numerous examples of both laziness and of extremely creative photo-manipulation.

Check them out here and if you discover any new ones, submit them to Rap Sheet.

Chains of Silk, Paul Rader Cover

Numerous additions to the Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery including this beaut by Paul Rader.

Cover copy reads:

She let him know she would keep him in style...
as long as he could keep her satisfied.

Seems like a win-win situation. I feel like there aren't as many gigolo career opportunities as there were in the 60s. Maybe it's more specialized these days and requires post-graduate work.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Movie Break: Fritz Lang's Indian Epic

In the process of moving I tried to pare down some of the shamefully unopened DVDs that've been sitting on my shelf (for--in some cases--years) so I finally got around to Fritz Lang's Indian Epic; a two-disk set released by Fantoma comprising The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb (1959).

This is very late Lang working in Cecil B. DeMille mode: exotic adventure, beautiful location shooting, massive and elaborate sets, and authentically-costumed cheesecake.

The films follow a dramatic triangle between a dashing German architect, a young Maharaja, and the temple dancer they both love. The architect is summoned to Eschnapur in India to build hospitals and schools based on ideas the Maharaja picked up during his European education. While traveling to Eschnapur on a caravan the architect saves the temple dancer (Debra Paget) from a man-eating tiger. This earns him the love of the dancer and the gratitude of the Maharaja, who desires the dancer but is unaware that her heart's been stolen away by the handsome foreigner. That's about it. Lots of drama ensues.

These films--reworkings of a script Lang wrote with Thea von Harbou, originally filmed in 1921--have an extremely retro feel, even for 1959. They're most reminiscent of a Buck Rogers serial (there's even a title card at the end of the first film to the effect of "Stay tuned to see if our lovers prevail"). Despite this innocent format, the films are shot through with Lang's traditional cynicism, sinister yet complicated villains, and some surprisingly racy bump-and-grind from Debra Paget.

Both films have dance numbers. In the first Paget wears transparent chain mail, in the second, practically nothing:

According to IMDB Debra Paget (35 1/2 - 21 1/2 - 35 1/2) tested for the lead role in the 1955 TV series, "Sheena: Queen of the Jungle". One of the great missed opportunities in pop culture history IMHO.

10-dollar words worth 10 grains of rice is hosting a vocabulary quiz that--for every word you correctly define--gives 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP).

The quiz has a self-adjusting difficulty level and the money to purchase the rice is generated by ad revenue from each word reload.

Ingenious and really addictive.

I keep topping out at 47. I will hit 50 if I have to feed all of Malawi to do it.

Thanks to Book Trout for the link.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Vintage Miami Parade Photos

One of my last and coolest finds from this year's WLGS was this suede-covered souvenir photo album from Miami, Florida.

It was stuffed with photos and "real photo" postcards from the Miami area as well as somewhere in New England (judging from the 5-foot snowfall in several of the images).

The photos span from the 1910s to--I'd guess--the early '40s and many of the postcards are addressed to a "Mrs. Grace Hammond."

My favorite photos show parade floats bedecked in coconuts and giant paper-mache dragons.

Here's a few of the highlights:

Vintage Miami Parade Photos
Vintage 1910-20s Family and Friends Photos

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Presenting Yourself

I have a new post at the Bookshop Blog on presenting yourself to a book client and how to spin the occasional awkward question. Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hangman Bookplate

I found this bookplate some time ago (before I started collecting or bookselling) but I just turned it up in the move.

It has a great threatening hangman / executioner theme:

This boke is one thing
The halter another;
He that stealeth the one
May be sure of the other.

An eBay seller credits this to Rockwell Kent "commissioned and published by the Antioch Bookplate Company, Yellow Springs, Ohio, in 1950." Barbara Gelhard (?) is faintly penciled in the lower margin.

This next is a child's homemade bookplate by "Shirley Jean, 1929":

Found in the rare 1920s children's book The Lost Princess: A Fairy Tale of Marie Queen of Roumania. I wonder if Shirley was copying her parents bookplate or if this was her own creation.

I love finding signs in children's books that the owner grew into a true bibliophile. I once found a library-like pocket made out of construction paper and held in the book with cartoon animal stamps. Very cute.

New Digs

So it came right down to the wire but the last papers were filed, frightening amounts of money changed hands and Alice and I are finally in our new apartment.

The neighborhood is great--Ditmas Park is supposedly one of the most diverse in the country. It's right between two trains. There's a public library 20-yards away, numerous interesting restaurants, a coffee and book shop (Vox Pop), 24-hour delis, a food co-op...pretty much everything a demanding and spoiled New Yorker needs.

I wanted to do a mock Dell Mapback with our actual floorplan but after 2 hours on the fun but trying Google Sketchup, I gave up. Maybe we'll save it for the housewarming party.