The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Everything That Happens

Brian Eno and David Byrne just released their first collaborative album in 30 yrs.

They're self-distributing in a number of different web and physical formats including a limited edition sculptural package.

So far it hasn't hooked me as deep as My Life in the Bush of Ghosts but it's probably a grower.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

eBay Store Cleanout

In preparation for eBay's new listing conditions (and a rethink of my focus) I'm cleaning out the current listings in my eBay store (except the "Prints, Plates and Ephemera" catalog).

All items should have a "Make Offer" button on the page (if something doesn't, let me know). If you're interested in anything please consider making one. Most reasonable (or slightly unreasonable) offers will be entertained.

In something like a week from now all the current listings will be ended and new stuff will magically appear.

Visit my eBay Store:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Book Trade Book Trade

Just finished an amusing and historically informative collection of Publishers Weekly articles from the 1930s-40s called Selling Books.

The book is s snapshot of a lost era when retail was a new exciting career option, every major department store had a large book department, book clerks (presumed to be female) were absolute authorities on what one should read, and a book reference desk took up about 20 feet of counter space.

Here are a few choice quotes:
Treat all customers with the same courtesy and painstakingness--and "all customers" will include the towns most crashing snob matron and her negro cook, the town's internationally known hydraulic engineer and the convalescent inmates of a nearby sanitarium.
Paper-covered books have not been the same success here in America that they have been in Europe. Apparently the American people were unwilling to fill their shelves with any but cloth bound books. That a change in point of view is in the offing however, is evidenced in the success of paper-covered Penguin Books being imported from England and in the sale of Pocket Books with their laminated covers.
It also includes numerous photos of period book departments and staff, some still valid info on window design and a suggested reading list containing some interesting titles. Including this one that I'm curious about:

How to Run a Rental Library by Groff Conklin

Anyway I know this stuff is porn to some people so I'm going to share the joy. I'll trade this book for another curious or useful title on book-selling, collecting, bookplates, ephemera, etc. What have you read and enjoyed and don't mind passing along?

Note: This book is purely a reading copy--ex-libris and somewhat musty--so I won't demand any better.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Olympic Gayness

A few topical (and less topical) covers in my Gay and Lesbian Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery.

"Travis Todd promoted an all-male Olympics for hustlers who gave other men sex satisfaction for a fee."

New Bookplates

A few new plates.

First this one from George Berkowitz, found in Thurber Carnival (Harper 1945).

An attractive library scene with nice lighting and effective use of cross-hatching. Signed, but I can't make it out.

Next this large format (7 1/2" X 4 1/2") Nouveau-inspired plate belonging to Helen Augusta Brereton, found in Poems by Violet Fane (Nimmo, 1892).

The plate is signed by "Carlton Fowler" painter and illustrator for Vogue and Century magazines. I have another copy of this plate if anyone wants to buy the $185 book that it's affixed to.

Next this rugged-looking nautical plate from the library of Martin Klopstock, found in Munchausen (Littman, Berlin 1900)

A very intricate design that is kind of lost on the rough paper stock.

Lastly two plates by J. Winifred Spenceley:

Jane Sherrill Knowles' plate dated 1906, found in Poems of Edward Roland Sill (Houghton 1902).

Shows a very nice dimensionality.

And this attractive memorial Lincoln plate belonging to George Higginson, Jr., found in Ballads and Songs by John Davidson (Bodley Head, 1894)

Most of the plates in this batch came from a hunting trip to The Owl Pen in Greenwich NY. The store has a very deep stock and occupies 3 or 4 old farm buildings. Always worth a trip when you're in upstate, NY. The shop is seasonal though so call ahead before making the trip. The ride is very scenic but I recommend a GPS.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dead Architecture

The blog Oddee recently posted a list of 10 ghost towns from around the globe that covers a huge range of time periods and styles.

The images are stunning.

Visiting these (besides the lethally dangerous ones) is my dream, lottery-winner vacation.

Thanks to for the link.

Bookplate Trading Site

Lewis Jaffe of Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie created a trading page for bookplate collectors.

It's just starting up so there's not many posted yet, but you can have a look at the three beautiful plates that Mr. Jaffe had commissioned (and maybe be inspired to have one made for yourself).

I just submitted a couple of my doubles and plan to send him more down the road.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Book Geekery

J. Godsey at Bibliophile Bullpen recently reposted a Book Geek test that she wrote a number of years ago. It's been making the rounds (mostly uncredited) for a while but it's new to me.

Here's a sample:


1 point for every yes answer.

Have you ever deliberately bought another copy because it had a different cover than the one you have?
Have you ever spent your grocery money on books?
Have you ever bought extra copies just so you could give them away?
Have you ever bought 2 or more copies of a book, so you could read one and save the other?
Have you ever bought a 2nd copy of a book you loved in case you wear out the 1st one?
Have you ever spent more than 20.00 to replace a book you read as a kid?
Have you ever brought books with you to the store to sell, just so you could by a book you couldn't afford?
Have you ever not read a series until you had every book in it?
Have you ever pre-ordered a book as soon as it was humanly possible?
Do you avoid getting your favorite author from the library because they expect you to give them back?
Have you ever maxed out your library card?
Do you erase other peoples writing in library books as you read them?
Have you ever repaired a library book you didn't damage before you returned it.
Have you ever kept a library book and claimed to have lost it?
Do you donate books to the library that you think they should have on the shelf?
Have you ever borrowed a book from a friend and forgotten to give it back? on purpose?
Have you ever tried to acquire absolutely everything an author has ever written including, text books, liner notes and book jacket blurbs?

and the full test Book Geek Test is here.

I got 79 (out of 100). The makes me a "true blue book geek" but only just. I have some work to do.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thrift Store Pottery Horror

Twitter inspired me to smarten up my Treo. Now I can send photos to flicker from the field.

Here's an old thrift store find. Beyond the creepy clown in an egg thing, he has a different number of finger/toes on each hand/foot.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


So a few misguided souls decided to follow me on Twitter, and now I actually have to use it.

My plan (such as it is) is to twit the following:
  • sexy, goofy, bizarre jacket copy. I type this stuff up for book descriptions anyway, might as well have fun with it
  • field reports of unique items. Maybe people can text me back if they want something.
  • things that can't wait till I get yesterday I was attacked by giant 3/4" sluggish grey houseflies. Two of them were on me and I couldn't shake them off, had to resort to flicking. Was creeped out for the rest of the day and kept feeling illusory flies. Totally would have Twitted that.
Here's my twitter page and I've added it over in my subscription box.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another High Score!

So adding to the glory of my 400+ Scrabble game, I came home and found that I made Bookthink's Top 10 on eBay Fiction List for June! That's me at #5.

I've been shooting at this for a while. I've gotten close but my big sales kept happening during months with really stiff competition.

This is the way to sell books!

Algonquin Holiday Snaps

Just returned from a damp but relaxing two weeks in Ontario's Algonquin Park. Read all my books, ate like a horse, and did some paddlin'. Here are a few snaps.

Dock frog.

Don't call the CSPCA. He likes it in there.

Pics from an overnight portage.

Mushrooms that I'm 95% sure were of the delicious oyster variety (but definitely not the ominous, kidney-failure inducing "Destroying Angels" that I made the mistake of describing to Alice).

Next time I bring a better guide book.

Lastly my first 400+ (432) Scrabble game achieved in the car ride home. 3 bingos with "Goiters", "steered" and "untimely".

A landmark for me. [This was using the Stevenson blank replacement house rule though. Probably not copacetic in a tournament].

See the rest of the trip photos here. If you use "slideshow" I put them in more or less chronological order.

Alright. I'm relaxed and more or less ready to return to the grind.