The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Housing Works Geektacular Sale

So I paid the $50 preview fee and there's no way I was publicizing this before I had my fill--but this weekend (today, NOW) Housing Works bookstore (Crosby Street, Below Houston, NYC) is having a massive Geektacular sale on Comics, Records and Vintage PBs.

5 for a dollar all you can carry away. I was very happy with the PB section, so much that I never made it to the comics or records.

Definitely worth checking out.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New Neko due March 3

It's called Middle Cyclone. I just pre-ordered. So exciting!

Here's a short making-of:

Looks like she recorded it "Big Pink" style in a big rattly barn (with wind and frog effects as a bonus).

I've been listening to her for years but I didn't know she was such vintage audio music crush is getting deeper and richer.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I lined-up all the little rubber letters on my stamper and the next batch of orders will go out with coupon be-stamped bookmarks!

The current offer is:
15% OFF Book Orders
& Reduced (or free)
Priority Mail Shipping
(within the US)

If you've received a stamped bookmark and want to use it, here's how:
  1. Browse my catalogs here.
  2. Email me a list of titles you'd like to purchase and include the coupon code in the subject line of the email (don't use the shopping cart).
  3. I'll send you a Paypal invoice reflecting the discount and reduced shipping.
Shipping for most orders will be $3 for priority mail and free for orders of more than $50 (after discount).

Shipping for some oversize books will be more but I'll still reduce the cost.

I'll update this post with new offers periodically. Each coupon is good for 1 use.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Last Minute Save

Was having a really crap book-scouting day yesterday. I hit 4 thrift stores scattered over 5 miles (walked) and found NOTHING for resale. Best I could do was two books for me--Doctor Bowdler's Legacy: A History of Expurgated Books and a salty memoir of a pool hustler for the con artist library, McGoorty: The Story of a Billiard Bum.

Stopped in a last ditch Salvation Army (that's normally fruitless and that I looked over just the other day). Saw nothing new but I picked up the ONLY book that might possibly contain a bookplate and found this:

Gloria Swanson's bookplate with a gift inscription!

My first true celebrity bookplate find. Only dilemma now is keep or sell...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Bookmarks and Coupons

I finally printed up a new batch of bookmarks after procrastinating for more than a year(!)

Here tis (click for larger version):

Every order gets one.

I kept the same art but tweaked the lettering. I have a fun concept for the next bookmark but I decided to squeeze another batch out of the bibliophile zombie attack. Sadly the color highlights I wanted were too pricey to justify, but feel free to color in the torches and lake of blood with a red sharpie.

As a new marketing experiment, I'll be stamping the reverse with a coupon code and a url explaining my current discount. I like this setup because I can change up the offer without modifying the bookmark stamp. (I haven't quite engineered this yet, so for the handful of buyers who receive a new unstamped bookmark I'll extend the offer to you anyway).

Shop my book catalogs here.

O Happy Day!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kindle Cliche Checker

While reading Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth on his Kindle, Mark Hurst of Good Experience was struck/annoyed by recurrences of the phrase "his heart in his mouth". He used the Kindle's text search and discovered this particular dead horse 17 times in the book.

He goes on to wonder if giving readers access to electronic texts (and google-like powers over them) will change the behavior or authors and editors.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My 13,000th Listing!

And the first Jim Thompson PBO I've landed.

Also numerous new entries in the Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Short Fiction

If anyone's curious, I finally transferred the last of my lists into the Hang Fire Books Short Fiction Reading Guide on LibraryThing.

These are my favorite short stories since 2000. They're mostly from genre magazines as the list was started when I was one of the filters for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. I'm still WAY behind on my reading for 2008 so don't expect it to be filled out until aught eleven or so.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lest We Regret

Posted on eBay right now, I have a 1940s educational booklet on the dangers and consequences of unsafe driving published by the Travelers Insurance Company.

It's filled with beautiful painterly graphics portraying the aftermath of car accidents, plus short fiction, cartoons, charts, statistics and more.

Here are some of my favorite images from the booklet, together with a handy explanation of "The Danger Unit".

Lest We Regret: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

End-of-year Book Post-Mortems

The end-of-year recession round-ups brought a flurry of articles on the current state of bookselling. This one from the NYT was the most grating:

Bargain Hunting For Books and Feeling Sheepish About It

The author laments the Houghton Mifflin buying freeze, folding indies, and faltering chains, but states that we shouldn't "blame this carnage on the recession or any of the usual suspects" (you know; the real estate bubble, bestseller driven publishing, superstore culture, mushrooming media distractions) but rather on the "networks of amateurs who sell books from their homes" and the people who buy from them.

There's barely a fact in the article...and sadly I can't rally the ones I want to counter him. Anybody know the percentage of book buyers who've bought a used title online? or the ratio of Amazon's used versus new sales? Unless some of the other "amateurs" out there had a much better '08 than me, I can't imagine the numbers are all that formidable.

The author pays lip service to the fact that "resellers...offer a great service [and] this is a golden age for those in love with old-fashioned printed volumes" but he mostly treats this as fiddling on the deck of the Titanic and doesn't explore the real game-changing possibilities of an easily accessible second hand market.

For example:
Of the last 10 sales I've made, you'd be lucky to find 2 of the titles at even the most well-stocked indy. The rest would have taken weeks/months of searching or (pre-internet) the acquisition of specialized mail order catalogs. In that time there's a good chance that the buyer would have a) moved on or b) spent the extra cash on something else.

At least 2-3 of those books went to small towns that have probably NEVER had a bookstore, or at least nothing better than a Waldenbooks in the mall (I know these towns exist, I grew up in one).

Another couple went to distant lands (Sweden, Germany), markets that I would have had no access to previously (and believe me, I'll be spending those Marks and Kroners locally).

Finally the used bookstore where I used to work depended on supplementary internet sales to keep it going (and I've heard this from many a brick-and-mortar dealer). Yes it was still staggering and has since died, but it was the doubled rent that killed it. The internet sales were the only things holding back the Verizon stores and the Duane Reades.
The most aggravating thing about the article is the author doesn't differentiate between the penny/bulk dealers and those who provide a professional service and a satisfying and unique shopping experience. Just because he bought a book for a quarter and it showed up in a floppy bubble envelope doesn't mean that you can't do better.

Also the book he describes purchasing for $.25 was in fact between $4-5 bucks with shipping and was bought blind without a real idea of the condition or transit time. A used store could match this price--if the store's used book buyer is aware of the price point they're competing with and pays out accordingly--and maybe even mark it up a few bucks for the store ambiance and the chance to pre-inspect your purchase. If the title is too obscure for a brick-and-mortar store to keep in stock then it's not a sale they would have had anyway and whining about online amateurs is just sour grapes....okay now Im officially rambling.

More links:
The Leonard Lopate Show commenting on the above Times article and the state of bookselling (mostly a love-letter to the Kindle).

A more thought-provoking--and insider--overview of bookselling in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, by John Schulman of the Caliban Book Shop (link via The Bibliophile Bullpen)

And lastly a peak inside the 54,000 foot warehouse of online dealer Wonder Books from the Washington Post (link via BookThink News)