The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

BOOK CSI: Tastiest Book Ever and Porno Proof-Reading

I saw a box of 100+ British Dr. Who pbs for sale this past weekend. I was waffling about trying them on eBay when I picked one up and noticed the telltale 1/8" bore-holes indicating bookworms. Looking further I found this one which has the highest number of holes I've seen on a single book: 13!

3-4 holes in a text block is not uncommon in titles from the 40s and earlier but this book is from 1982! This leads me to conclude that the Doctor Who Crossword book is the most delicious confection ever printed.

Next up a batch of sleaze paperbacks that showed up in the mail. The covers were nice and the bindings were solid but fanning the pages I noticed heavy ink underlining and marginalia. On further investigation I discovered the previous owner had developed an elaborate system to annotate his porn using multi-colored ink, pictograms for particular sex acts and indexes on the inside back cover.

and more (NWS): 1, 2, 3

When reading this type of literature, you're already reduced to one hand. But when the other hand contains a multicolor hi-lighting pen, it seems you're missing the point.

Book CSI is a continuing record of the sins against books committed by readers, the elements and time. I'm posting interesting cases as I find them. Please report any noteworthy crimes to our desk man.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ditmas Park Blog Profile

The editors of my neighborhood blog (Ditmas Park Blog) just ran a bio and business profile of Hang Fire Books.

Thanks for the linkage.

And Howdy neighbors! I'll see you around the hood.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tax Prep Week I've barely had time to post. But there's a new batch of covers in the Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery. This comprises the last of my acquisitions from the Housing Works Geektacular Sale.

Also I picked up a copy of the Warren PB price guide and filled in a lot of "unknown" artists. If you have a favorite, do a name search in my photostream and you'll likely turn up more than previous.

Hopefully I'll be rescued and back to posting next week.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Few New Blogs

...that I've been enjoying recently.

Two by the author of an interesting sounding upcoming book "Take me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950" (Dust-to-Digital, April '09)
Dull Tool, Dim Bulb: "A blog about surface, wear, form and authenticity in art, antiques and photography. Dull tool and dim bulb were the only swear words my father ever used"; with a recent post on Hobo Nickels that has me checking the pockets of every patched up coat I find in a thrift store.

Gals Gams and Garters: documenting--one clipping at a time--the scrapbook of a leg and garter aficionado that was dumpster-dived in Virginia in the 60s.

Also collector and archivist Vincent Lexington Harper has built a digital gallery of vintage Asian advertising art called Old Orient Museum. It features tons of vintage tobacco and pin-up advertising (much of which was destroyed during China's Cultural Revolution). This site's a little Flash heavy for my taste (though I love the soundtrack) but it's a rich resource.

I'll add all three of these to my sidebar link lists.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dennis Wheatley Bookplate by Frank C. Papé

(click for larger version)

I recently learned that one of my favorite illustrators, Frank C. Papé, did a bookplate for British Horror/Occult author Dennis Wheatley.

Papé did illustrations for a series of Bodley Head editions of allegorical fantasy writers; James Branch Cabell and Anatole France. The plates are vivid, bizarre and frequently use a pseudo-3D technique placing parallel action on different focal planes. To me he looks like a precursor of underground cartoonists Robert Williams and S. Clay Wilson.

I tracked the plate down and I'm very pleased with it. A jazz-age satyr smoking a cigarette with an iced bottle of Champers nearby, nudity, suggestive pagan imagery, a sacrilegious coda, all of my favorite things! Definitely one of the gems of my collection.

I haven't read Wheatley yet, but if his taste in bookplate artists--and the batshit crazy Hammer adaptation from 1968, Lost Continent--are indicators, I expect to enjoy his work.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Gizmo that Changed My Life

Listening to radio in our kitchen used to require blasting the stereo in the living room--making it uninhabitable--and yet you'd still barely make out the sound in the kitchen (that's where I pack books and it's often filled with horrible squealing from the tape dispenser and the KER-CHUNK of the industrial stapler).

So for Xmas Alice asked for a small radio / boombox and I got "her" (it's kind of a Homer gift) one of these:

A Grace Wireless Internet Radio and it's one of the top 5 electronic purchases of my life.

Basically you can listen to any radio station with an internet stream, any podcast, your own music files, and Pandora (with the ability to rate and bookmark songs), all in a sleek and intuitive package with robust sound.

You need broadband and a wireless router but your computer doesn't need to be on for the Grace to work and there's no additional service fees.

It was very easy to setup. There are five buttons for presets on the front and you can add thousands of more stations either from the Grace itself or from a web page interface (Reciva). If you add a station through Reciva, next time you turn on the Grace it'll be added to your station lists.

I do a lot of repetitive work that requires my hands and eyes but not necessarily my brain, so radio is my friend. But even in NYC there's plenty of dead airtime with nothing on or shows I only grudgingly listen to. Now I can happily swap between Brian Lehrer, Irwin Chusid's Calypso podcasts on WFMU, Crime OTR from the 40s, the Goonshow, Soundcheck and a surprising number of Bollywood stations (already on the Grace if you search by "genre").

I couldn't recommend this more to booksellers, crafters, or radio enthusiasts. And it's less than $200.

My only (very slight) complaint is that when listening to podcasts if the Grace loses connectivity it starts over at the beginning of the podcast and there's no way to fast forward.

So I'll end this with a request: Are there any college/freeform/public radio stations that you can't live without? Podcasts? Please let me know. I need to feed this thing.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New Catalogs

In preparation for the addition of about 200 new books, I decided to update my catalog structure.

My old paperback catalogs were overstuffed and unfocused so within "Vintage Paperbacks" I've added 14 new subcategories:
There's 1400+ pbs in there! Still considering breaking-out "Horror" from "Fantasy & Science Fiction" but not sure inventory demands it at the moment.

Tweaked some of the other catalogs as well. Check them all out here: Hang Fire Books Catalogs.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Nearly 50 New Covers the Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery including another rare early Harlan Ellison JD title.