The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Photo Catch-up

In my state of blogging lethargy, I've accumulated a number of miscellaneous photos that haven't found a post of their own. Here's a big photo-dump to bring myself up to date.

One for my Book CSI series analysing book abuse, neglect...and here just ineffectual good intentions:

This message was jotted--with the enthusiasm of a 10-year-old girl--on the outside of a package that was folded in half in my mail box. You can't rile a postman like that. In the time it took to write this cutesy and pathetic plea, the seller could have cut a piece of cardboard and reinforced the book so that it would actually be inconvenient to pound it into taco shape.

Here's one of my favorite grafitti tags (after "Neckface" and "Backfat") that appeared near my subway stop on the Q train:

An edifying message, diluted a bit by the appearance of the classic "upsk*rt", but still I'd like to see this one go city-wide. Really curious what kind of crap this building is stuffed with. Didn't notice the mountain of clutter until I processed the photo.

My folk art, big rig toy chest in its new home:

That's Mego Spock riding shotgun, with Scotty at the wheel. I found this at a stoop sale back in June and I couldn't part with it. I think I'll use the trailer as my time capsule for stashing hi-grade books that'll be rare in 10 years.

Jug City:

We pass this establishment every year on the way to camp. I love a "Postal Outlet" with signage like an off-brand Hooters. Last time I saw Jug City, some other--relatively jugless--business had taken over the space but thankfully they kept the name. One day I hope to retire to Canada and open "Jug City Books" and the window display at least will be up to snuff.

...keeping to the theme. My favorite bad break (one of the quiet joys of proofreading) in recent memory:

Amazon suggested this "pay phrase" to my demure wife ("...embly" was after the break). She passed on that one for some reason. Previous to this my favorite BB I discovered in a book catalog I was proofing was:
The most feared weapon in Hitler's arse-
And lastly a haul from a month or so back that I forgot to post:

All from the GOB sale of an estate/storage liquidator. My best one-time cartridge score until the World's Largest Garage Sale earlier this month. This photo is part of the "Junk in Your Trunk" photoset on Flickr documenting garage sale and thrift finds.

All right, caught up. And until I replace my scanner the Hang Fire Blog will likely be a bit image light. So does anyone have any particular aspect of bookselling, pulp fiction (or whatever) they'd like to see me write on? The brain is a bit scattered lately and I wouldn't mind some outside imposed direction.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

World's Largest Garage Sale Haul, 2010

My epic haul from the annual World's Largest Garage Sale in Warrensburgh, NY. Not a bad last hurrah for the 2010 garage sale season.

Favorite moment from the sale: Receiving a text message from the wife saying "This booth has Sega games AND machetes."

As usual you can see this photo with notes/annotations in the Junk in Your Trunk pool on Flickr.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Maker Faire

I've found that I'm fairly terrible at event coverage so here's a simple list of the cool things I caught at the New York Maker Faire hosted this past weekend at the New York Hall of Science.

FRC: First Robotics Competition
High school students participating in the FRC ("A varsity sport for the mind") showed off robots from the recent 2010 challenge, which was to build a soccer-playing robot. These students were among the most excited and outgoing presenters at the fair and managed to pull off the--inconceivable in my generation--coup of being in high school, a science geek and cool simultaneously. There will be a scrimmage this Saturday (October 2nd) at the Francis Lewis High School in Queens. Check it out if you're in the NYC area.

Frank DeFreitas of Holoworld demonstrated his approx $100 DIY garage kit for creating holograms; using a laser pointer, metal pipe, some bulldog clips, and a lens. Frank has been creating holograms and teaching the process since 1983. His website has details on his workshops and updates on new developments in the art.

Mustafa Bagdatli explained his high tech, interactive mood ring project called "Poker Face" which uses "a heart rate monitor and galvanic skin response" to provide real time and highly visible readings of a user's emotional state (mood changes are displayed via a color changing medallion). The coolest feature of this project to me was the ability to sync this data with something like Google calender so you can track exactly who/what makes you happy and edit your life accordingly. It also made me imagine the potentially amusing conversations with spouses when they ask something like "Why were you so happy between 1:30 and 1:35 last Tuesday afternoon?"

Well above my understanding level, but incredibly cool is the Orbotix hardware/software platform for turning your mobile phone into a remote control unit to command killer robots.

Proteus Gowanus (543 Union Street in Brooklyn) hosts a "Fixers' Collective" every Thursday night. A "social experiment in improvisational fixing and mending", participants bring in broken objects and the accumulated expertise and brain power of the room tries to diagnose and fix them. Looking forward to attending a few of these this winter. Unfortunately most of my broken electronics were sent off to the "Deconstruction Lab" organized by my lovely wife for one of NYHOS's own Maker Faire workshops. Guess I will have to break more things.

Lastly a mesmerizing kinetic sculpture by Brad Litwin:

The piece shown at the fair was even more complex than this as the entire sculpture spun and the balls were catapulted through small holes in two spinning sheets of plexiglass. I could have stared at this thing for days.

Also noteworthy the 3D printer pavilion, life-size Mousetrap, the Rubiks solving robot, and lots more.

All-in-all a great time. Check it out if it comes to your town.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Jim Linderman posted a fine testimonial to my store over on his Vintage Sleaze Blog:
He is a "value-added" bookseller...that is, he knows his material and he willingly shares the information. If a book like one of those above was written by a hungry REAL writer with a pseudonym, he'll tell you who he was. If a title affects him in a particular way, he will take the time while cataloging it for sale to tell you why.

William leans towards the unusual and curious, as any serious book hound should. His prices are low. His service is high. He will reasonably repair and restore your rare paperbacks...He has a fabulous set of links. He is honest and entertaining and his website/blog/bookstore is the same.
[Blushing] I must cop to the fact that I'm not as nice or as helpful as Jim describes but this at least gives me something to shoot for.

We may get stuck in a Mexican standoff of mutual appreciation but Mr. Linderman is an outstanding image-archaeologist who has compiled a shelf-ful of worthy and unique photographic histories. A few highlights:

Camera Club Girls captures the--somewhat--innocent early days of private pinup photography through the work of one artist who meticulously and beautifully hand-tinted his photos.

In Situ: American Folk Art in Place presents a beautiful collection of outsider art and roadside attractions mostly through the vanished medium of the real photo postcard.

And his Vintage Sleaze Blog regularly presents art and ephemera that is totally new to me and gets me salivating with acquisitiveness. Witness this Charles Mingus 7" with art by sleaze grandmaster Gene Bilbrew from his most recent post:

You can find a catalog of his book and blog projects here.

Thanks for the shoutout Jim!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bionic Books

A friend sent me a link to a French publisher with an interesting mission statement:
Les editions volumiques is a publishing house focusing on the paper book as a new computer platform, as well as a research lab on book, (computational) paper, reading and their relation to new technologies.... game interactivity sheds a new light [on] the potential of a story [and] the role of the reader.... We do not consider the e-book as the replacement of the paper book, but we wish to enrich the tangible...connection that paper brings with all the new dimensions of the digital world. Each of our projects explores a different face of this union of paper and computation.
Their flash-heavy site (with non-embeddable videos unfortunately) showcases some stunning and fascinating projects.

Several use the iphone's camera and touch sensitive screen to interact with game boards and artfully designed branching books. My favorite of this type "The Night of the Living Dead Pixels" is a multi-directional fold-out book imprinted with treated stills from NOTLD. The iphone camera picks up bar codes (that are cleverly blended into the high contrast b+w images) which trigger specific video clips on the iphone screen; transforming the book into a multiple-choice role-playing experience.

Another project is:
"A prototype of a paper video game using reative inks to makes shapes appear and disappear dynamically on the paper. A tiny joypad allows to play [sic] with the duck to open the door to the next page."
The video shows what appears to be a page torn from a children's book crazily trailing wires like witch's hair. A hand controls the movements of a small duck through an abstract city-scape. If this ever becomes practical/affordable it could be beautifully implemented in picture books (or pop-up books! Imagine a pop-up book made with this "reactive paper").

I really like the way this studio is going with their re-imagining of the book form. They're innovative, exciting and--perhaps best of all--unlike traditional ebooks they're collectible and resellable!

See all of their projects here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer Book Report

People who've stuck around for a while know that a large percentage of my pleasure reading happens during a regular summer vacation in Canada's Algonquin Park. This year was no exception, but I left the title selection more open-ended since we were bringing up four boxes of books for the cabin library.

From my preliminary pile--displayed last post--I dropped The Etched City (liked the Leone-esque epic fantasy setting, but the dialog was unnatural and irritating), How Con Games Work (a reissue of a title from the 80s that would have been goofy and anachronistic even then), and Howard Hughes: The Untold Story (I enjoy Hughes appearances in Hollywood bios but he may be too much of a gothic loony to read his entire life story even if well-told, which here it isn't).

Here's what I did read:

Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott - A history of prostitution in Chicago at the beginning of the 20th-century, structured around the rise and fall of the "Everleigh Club". Founded by two sisters from Virginia, the Everleigh was the most comfortable and ostentatious pleasure house in the country. A night at the club could set you back 20-30 times an average week's wages, but they offered gourmet meals, perfume fountains, three orchestras, fine champagne, and--of course--beautiful (and willing) women from around the world. The sisters had no trouble attracting a high grade of employee as they paid well, treated the women fairly and provided regular medical exams. Chicago's other madams didn't appreciate the competition and the resulting scandals, publicity stunts and industrial (?) espionage gave the anti-vice movement a very broad target.

Sin the Second City
uses the history of this legendary club to provide structure to a fantastic collection of characters and stories in which the Everleigh sisters--like the best party hosts--often fade into the background. I marked a number of facts and passages in the book that I wanted to highlight but handed it off before I wrote them down. One useful bit of trivia is that the phrase "to get layed" was likely a shortened version of "Everleighed" (which in itself was a play on the hot Old Testament action: "to lie with").

False Night by Algis Budrys - One of the early Lion paperback originals from a writer/editor I worked with at Tor books. I picked this one because it opens with a lone survivor waking up in a taxi on 14th street in a post-apocalyptic NYC. He works his way across town, dodging sniper fire, and eventually barricades himself--with a female survivor--in a Stuyvesant Town apartment.

The first section of the book--the pacification of Manhattan and beginnings of territorial expansion--are vivid and realistic, but the latter sections suffer from the cramming in of three generations, a didactic theory of geopolitics and a science fictional retelling of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire into the typical 130 pages of a Lion paperback. The book was apparently heavily abridged by the editor and was reissued in a significantly longer form as Some Will Not Die. This expanded edition is probably the way to read it.

If He Hollers, Let Him Go by Chester Himes - Set in a shipyard in WWII-era Los Angeles, the main character, Bob Jones, is an African-American crew supervisor. He knows his job well but he also knows that he never would've been allowed in the union or promoted if most of the qualified white men weren't overseas. He's walking on a wire, but still he can't help relishing the money and respect he's receiving for the first time in his life. His steady girlfriend is the light-skinned daughter of a wealthy African-American lawyer. She wants Bob to improve himself so they can be married, but she has a second life away from him when she's able to pass as white. Aan waiting to drag Bob down is a femme fatale in the form of a hick, racist Rosie the Riveter.

Himes writes with the most well-earned hard-boiled voice I've ever read. The story hits all the noir buttons but without any unnecessary or overcomplicated mystery claptrap. My first Himes but definitely not my last.

My Wicked, Wicked Ways
by Errol Flynn - Greatest biography title ever. By the time Flynn wrote this, his on-screen persona and his--admittedly event-filled--life had bled inextricably together like the hues in a worn-out Technicolor print. The stories of his early days--sharpened and improved by infinite retellings--are told with zest and vigor, the latter years with a sad, boozy directionlessness that he's all to ready to admit. I wanted to like this more but in the recounting of his impressive list of conquests with native princesses, starlets, and coat check girls the only personality Flynn manages to put across is his own.

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli - An epic and artistically ambitious graphic novel about a celebrated modernist architect who's fallen into academia without any of his designs ever actually being built. At the beginning of the story Asterios lies in a trashed apartment and appears to be reviewing a tape of a sexual conquest (dated shelves of VHS tapes line his walls). When a fire begins to engulf his building, he runs out taking only three very specific items. The rest of the work is a series of elaborate flashbacks, self-deceptions, and parallel lives explaining how Asterios hit bottom, the importance of each of the things he saved from the fire, and how he might pull himself back up.

Mazzucchelli's art and writing are accomplished and playful. In a flashback scene at a university cocktail party each character is drawn in a style/color reflecting their academic discipline and personality. This stylistic bubble surrounds everyone, is stronger for the bigger personalities, and only begins to blend when Asterios makes a connection with the woman who will become his wife (later when his marriage is breaking down the styles slowly split apart again). All of this without kicking the reader out of the narrative or feeling pretentious. This scene made me think of James Joyce and the frequently impenetrable scholarship and trickery needed to get an idea like this across in prose. Elsewhere in the book Mazzucchelli describes his main character as an "architect on paper" and a composer describes musical notation as "marks that measure out the passage of time" (? book needed for quote). Better descriptions of the cartoonist's art I have never seen.

Alright running out of steam. I think I finished one other book but I waited too long and forgot what it was. Still working on Nana and Scott and Amundsen by Roland Huntford.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Parenting Aid and Summer Reading List

Received this semi-threatening Sunday-school prop as a gimme with a lot of mixed ephemera.

Distributed by First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Peoria, Ill (mid 50s-early 60s I'd guess), it shows two angelic/obedient children over the text "Silent Worship".

(click on image for larger version)

I think even secular parents might want to print this one out and give it a try (though they may want to paste the image on--ahem--heavier stock).

And before I run out for a desperately needed vacation, here's my reading pile for the holiday:

Not totally finalized yet. I imagine either the Hughes, the Flynn bio (or both) will prove indigestable but we're traveling with three cartons of books (staples like Graham Greene, AC Doyle, and Agatha Christie) to upgrade and supplement the cabin library, so I'll have a lot to fall back on.

Enjoy the dog day folks.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Streetcar Named Desire

I received this naughty fold-out/peekaboo card in with a lot of Tijuana Bibles and I had to share:
The unfolded version is here (NOT WORK SAFE). No publication info whatsoever but I'd put it somewhere between 1948-1955 based on the play's production date or the release of the film.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Weekend Stoop Haul

Had 14 promising sales mapped out for this past Saturday, but I overloaded twice; misread my map (mistaking one sale for another that started later); and had to leave the bike locked-up while I lugged a huge armload of items 2 miles home (then myself back to the bike). Ended up with bruised arms, a red neck and only four sales crossed off my list by the time it was too late to bother. Frustrating but did well on the ground I covered.

Picked up an original George Romero Season of the Witch poster, a lobby card for Eegah, the press kit for Radley Metzger's "Dirty Girls" and 50-60 higher grade vintage paperbacks. The above items (and more) were great but bittersweet finds as they came from a local eBay seller I've bought from before who seems like he's closing up shop. Most of my sunburn can be blamed on this sale as I went through every item he had.

Also picked up a "Young Architects" kit which allows you to create a 3D floorplan and a set of 100s of colored pencils. Think I'm going to use the floorplan to strategize bookshelf space. $1 each for these sets.

A cool "Rokenbok" construction toy that gives you an SNES style remote control and 8 receivers which you can place in a series of construction vehicles. Then you can switch--on the fly--between any of the vehicles and run a whole construction site by yourself! I'm afraid the Playmobile union is gonna shut us down though.

Lastly I picked up a great oldschool change dispenser that requires the double-safe belt and suspenders to hold up.

As always click on the images above to view in Flickr (w/ thrift-o-vision annotations). These are part of the "Junk in Your Trunk" pool devoted to documenting yard sale and thrift hauls.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fires of Youth

34 new covers in the Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Stoop Sale Haul, 2 Weeks Worth

Saved up a couple of weeks of stoop sale treasures to mix up the posts a bit. These hauls were the result of two beautiful weekends of warm, clear weather. Perfect for stoop sales because the sellers want to quickly get rid of their crap and hit the beach or go to BBQs.

Some highlights:
  • My second Da Vinci Code 1st after looking at 1000s of CR pages. Sadly the price has tanked and I need to bury them for a few decades
  • A beautiful Enzo Mari Animal puzzle (images here, here, and here) that I bought from a consistently triple fair-priced estate sale. The sale runners were supposed "pros" and priced at the highest realized final values on eBay (regardless of condition, or the fact that this was a Wednesday morning in Bushwick). I paid $5 for this since they had no idea what they had. Realized $275 at auction. Nyaaah. NOTE: This was the resin edition from '72. The original wooden version from the 1950s must fetch thousands
  • Crumb's Book of Genesis
  • Get Tough! 1st Edition of hand-to-hand fighting manual, "as Taught to the British Commandos, and U. S. Armed Forces". Wartime issue paperback in original HTF dust wrapper
  • A selection of Hot Rod and Big Daddy Roth titles
  • Handmade big rig toy chest! 52" x 18". Working wheels, removable trailer, detailed open cab. I f***ing love this thing!
  • Large pile of 100% wool and marino wool yarn, some handspun. According to the wife--for whom these were a bribe--yarn like this fetches $8-10 a skein. I paid $.50 each (don't tell her)
  • Tubful of Warhammer 40k Space Marines and LOTR miniatures. These can go for decent coin but it will require extensive undercover 21 Jump Street-style geek research.
If the summer keeps up like this, I'll be one happy camper.

As always click on the images above to view in Flickr (w/ thrift-o-vision annotations). These are part of the "Junk in Your Trunk" pool devoted to documenting yard sale and thrift hauls.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Zombie Report: The Roost

The other night I dreamt I was in a theater lobby with five different ticket booths. Each was selling tickets to a different zombie movie but, because there were letters missing on the marquees, I couldn’t tell which was which and I ended up buying non-refundable tickets to the wrong film (I’m guessing it was an entry in the Resident Evil series). This frustrating experience was my subconscious reminding me that I’m seriously behind on my zombie report. So here’s a review of a film I saw probably six weeks ago. Let’s test my horror recall.

The Roost (dir: Ti West, Glass Eye Pix, 2005)

I picked this up after winning (Thank you, MondoMovie) and loving West’s House of the Devil; a Halloween-meets-Rosemary’s Baby tribute to 1980s horror.

The Roost is West's first feature and understandably less accomplished than HOTD but still fun and (mostly) effective. It begins with a group of 20-somethings on their way to a wedding. They’re already off-course, on an ill-advised short cut, when a bat smacks into their SUV windshield and they wind up in a ditch. They do the classic “wander off in the dark to find help” and come upon a small farm with a massive, cavernous, Taj Mahal of an evil-looking barn. The barn is full of millions of temperamental bats who will bite you and turn you into the walking dead. That’s it. Pretty basic.

The barn (apparently the same as used in Hitchcock’s Marnie) is a great location full of murky corners, made even more murky by an effective use of DV. It’s hard to believe that the elderly couple who own the farm need such a behemoth of agricultural architecture, but that’s nit-picking.

The bat effects are simple and effective and--together with the zombies they’ve infected--make for a good two-stage monster. Bats can fly and fit through small crevices, zombies can open doors and wrestle; that doesn’t leave a lot of safe places.

The 20-somethings are self-absorbed douches who don’t like each other and don’t seem to care much about the couple they’re on the way to celebrate. The only time anyone says anything interesting or insightful is when they’re backstabbing. I see these kind of characters so often that I don’t know if they’re a shared trait of cynical early 2000s horror; if the inability to created likeable characters is a common weakness in screenwriters; or if I just don’t like anyone younger than me. In any case they kept me from becoming completely involved in the film and had me waiting for the kills (one of which—like another in House of the Devil--is so simple, sudden and brutal that it will stick with you for a while).

The Roost also features an odd framing device with Tom Noonan (the gangly killer from Manhunter) playing a late-night TV horror host presenting the events of the film. This device is cute but has absolutely no connection to the rest of the movie, and seems kind of slapdash. I’m guessing it was just to pad this out to feature length (though it’s still a brisk 81 mins).

Outbreak Location: Rural Pennsylvania
Zombification cause: Super-rabies
Mobility: Slow and awkward (but they vanish when you look away for 5 seconds)
Rating: Three undead Hare Krishnas (out of five)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dutch Treat

I just cataloged the hell out of this book because it's beautiful and absolutely worth it.

Dutch Treat Club: Year Book 1941 "Total Offense", 1941. First edition.

Privately printed yearbook for the "The Dutch Treat Club", a society of illustrators, writers and performers established in the early 1900s and still going today.

(click on images for larger, NWS versions)

Wartime issue. 8" X 5.25". Paper-over-board, pictorial wraparound cover. Laminated/glossy. Photo EPs of nude women cavorting on a cannon. Unpaginated but approx 100 pages. Edition page jokingly states: "This edition is strictly limited to 12,500,00 copies (Berlin), 12.5 (London), of which every copy is number 1" (numeral "1" hand lettered).

Elaborately printed and illustrated. Filled with pin-up / girly art and cartoons from member illustrators including:
  • Rube Goldberg
  • Dean Cornwell
  • Carl Mueller
  • Arthur William Brown
  • Otto Soglow
  • Harry Beckhoff
  • John J. Floherty, Jr.
  • Frank Godwin (creator of the strip "Connie")
Because this was a privately printed publication, the art is racier than other work from these artists and more explicit than comparable pin-ups of the time (i.e. pubic hair). Also includes a pop-up illustration by Tony Sarg.

Famous members of the Dutch Treat Club include:
  • Robert Benchley
  • Robert M. McBride
  • Isaac Asimov
  • William Morris
  • Ogden Nash
and more. Some of the club officers/members listed in this volume:
  • Clarence Budington Kelland (president)
  • Edward MacNamara (actor)
  • Harold Ross (founder of the New Yorker)
  • Whitney Darrow (cartoonist)
  • J. P. McEvoy (Dixie Dugan creator)
  • Westbrook Pegler (journalist)
  • Lowell Thomas (broadcaster)
  • Frank Crowninshield (editor Vanity Fair)
  • William Beebe (Naturalist/Author)
  • William De Beck (cartoonist "Barney Google")
  • Cliff Sterrett
  • Rex Stout
  • Efrem Zimbalist
and more. Other features include: A list of club speakers and events, news/current event parodies, and a full list (with addresses and phone #s) of current members. Pencil inscription from previous owner "W. R. Steinway" dated "April 4, 1941". Covers lightly rubbed/scuffed showing light tanning to spine. Bump with slight exposed board to lower front cover. Binding slightly shaken but solid. Very Good. Hardcover.

Apparently these yearbooks were well-known for their girly art but this is the first I've seen (though hopefully not the last). Listed for sale here but I'll be sad to see it go.

And more Dutch Treat Annuals.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Last Weekend's Haul

Two glorious sunny days full of bike-riding, stoop sales and a street fair. Good times.

Here's my haul from the weekend. (click on the image to view in Flickr w/ thrift-o-vision annotations). These are part of the "Junk in Your Trunk" pool devoted to documenting yard sale and thrift hauls.

Best find was the 1941 yearbook from the "Dutch Treat" social club filled with fantastic girly art and even a pop-up. I'm going to break this out into a separate blog post, it's so nice.

The cupcake tin and shawl are for the Missus.You have to bring a few of those home if you want to get away with the smut and video games. It's a yin-yang thing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Personalized Catalogs

If you've bought a book from me before you've probably received one of my nifty zombies-attacking-a-bookstore bookmarks.

Sadly if you received said bookmark it's 99.999991% likely that you didn't see (or were unmotivated by) the coupon code stamped on the back which gets you 15% off your next order and reduced or free shipping. Even customers who've purchased from me 5-6 times ignore this substantial boon. I'm at a loss...

Anyway, to hi-light my Gates-level generosity I decided to start printing up short personalized catalogs to include with select orders listing other material the buyer might enjoy and emphasizing the discount.

I use the free version of Bookhound as my database which allows you to easily create customized pick lists. Here's how I do it:
  • Search Bookhound by catalog, keyword or description (with quantity set to ">0" so you only get current inventory).
  • Once you have results, click in the empty space at the far right of each record (beneath the "+" sign) to add select books to a new list.
  • Do several searches--and add titles that are interesting and appropriate--until you have somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-50.
  • Click on the "+" in the upper right corner and Bookhound will display all the titles you just selected.
  • Review your list. Does it feel logical and appealing? If you find something doesn't belong, click "omit" and then the "+" again to get the revised list. Add more titles as necessary.
  • Sort your list by author or title by clicking on the column head.
  • Click "Save list" and name it something appropriate.
  • Click "email list" (not "print list") and Bookhound will copy your list (with full publication details, descriptions, price, etc) to the clipboard.
  • Paste your list into a word doc. I use a template with my logo, contact info, list name, date, page number, and a short explanatory paragraph.
That's it! Print the list and include it with your order. I also save the list as a dated doc so I can reprint if necessary and track its effectiveness. If you receive a similar order down the road you can call the list up in Bookhound from the "saved lists" pull-down on the search screen and freshen it up by adding new acquisitions and deleting sold items .

I find this is a great way to bring some of the hand-sell magic back to online bookselling. It's fun to try and laser in on a customer's reading and collecting needs, it keeps me aware of my older inventory and it gives the customer something to peruse when they step away from the computer.

I've done two so far. Fingers crossed that it wins me some loyal repeat customers.

NOTE: If you staple the list/catalog make sure you fold and place it in such a way that the staple doesn't mar the book. Also if it's more than 2 pages thick, don't place it inside the book or you could damage the binding.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Stoop Sale Report

My haul from the last two weeks of stoop-saling (click on the image to view in Flickr w/ thrift-o-vision annotations). These are part of the "Junk in Your Trunk" pool devoted to documenting yard sale and thrift hauls.

Not one but TWO Bang & O turntables, a great selection of LPs and DVDs, a book on cock-fighting, Aleister Crowley's Thoth tarot and more.

Not too shabby considering I've been coughing my lungs out for two weeks straight from some disgusting lung affliction.

Favorite sale moments: The guy selling the first B+O table said he was clearing stuff out due to anxiety induced by cable hoarding shows (I heart A+E). We discussed the finer points of collect-o-mania and I gave him my informed opinion that you are only a hoarder when you stop inviting people into your home and "stuff" starts to displace your sleeping/eating/showering space. Until then you're a connoisseur.

Other favorite moment was trying out a compound bow outfit and talking jazz at a sale held by a chatty ex-cop, private investigator.

Very excited that the season has begun.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Magic Ephemera

I finally listed the collection of stage magic books and ephemera that's been collecting magic dust next to my desk for months. I kept waving the bone folder over the pile and chanting "librum catalogum!", but no dice. I'm a muggle of a bookseller.

Thought I'd share some of the great graphics and hand lettering (click on images for larger versions):

First this 1922 ad for Houdini's Magical Rope Ties & Escapes from Practical Patter for Practical Magicians by Oswald Rae (1922)

Next the cover to Stage Illusions, compiled and edited by Will Goldston, Magician Ltd., c 1920. Signed by (it looks like) "F. Velhsco"

The cover to Magical Mentalia by G. E. Arrowsmith, Max Andrews, London, 1942. Cover design by Max Andrews (wish I could make the silver highlights pop a bit more in the scan).

And this label affixed in the back of Magic Mentalia from the "L. Davenport & Co." (London) Magical Supply company which offers free issues of the periodical "The Demon Telegraph".

Next this emblem/seal from Brooklyn-born magician/writer/publisher, Joseph Ovette (1885-1946) from the reverse of the chapbook Arthur LeRoy's Futuristic Fantasies , 1931.

Lastly this great embossed devil-themed book ticket from the "Demon Series: Tricks, Jokes, Puzzles, London"

If interested you can see all the items from this collection in my "Games, Hobbies, Crafts, and Collectibles" Catalog (which I must admit is getting a bit broad) or email me for a list.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Zombie Report: The Dead Outside

I recently joined a support group for video addicts with massive piles of unwatched DVDs. The timing was perfect since--after paying-off my beast of a tax bill--staying home and watching videos I’ve already purchased is about all my budget will allow.

As I whittle down the stack, I’ve decided to blog reviews of any zombie films I watch to give you all the benefit of my decades of specialized knowledge.

Here’s the first one:

The Dead Outside (dir: Kerry Anne Mullaney, Mothcatcher Fims, 2009)

I purchased this Region 2, Pal import on the strength of the trailer:

I like the idea of a small, tense character piece set in a rural Scottish farm with only a zombie or two rattling the sheep fence. While Dead Outside delivers on that, it is heavily hampered by budget limitations and an inexperienced crew.

The setup of the film has two refugees talking their way into the barricaded farmhouse of a wary teenage girl. The characters have all done difficult (and maybe horrible) things to get to this point of relative safety and they’re weary, traumatized and potentially infected.

The zombies in the film are referred to as "The Dying"; afflicted with something like a combination of Alzheimer's and schizophrenia. It comes on slowly and it’s difficult to tell if a person is infected or just scared/wounded/irrational. Not much explanation is given for the plague and the film counts on our familiarity with other contemporary zombie films for context (the box even trumpets a quote calling this a “side tale to ’28 Days Later’”).

This is a small budget film with a micro-cast--so they were never going to do a broad canvas apocalypse—but zombie films have creatively worked around this since NOTLD. Dead Outside gives very little sense of the outside world. No radio or TV broadcasts, no cell phone conversations, no stories from survivors of population centers…. I would have appreciated this reversion to primitivism if it felt more earned, but it didn't seem like enough time had passed since the outbreak to warrant a complete collapse of infrastructure (especially since the infected are functional in the early stages).

My real problem with the film though was the cinematography. Nearly every shot is handheld and cocked to the left at precisely 65%. Shots that could have worked framed straight (like the lonely farmhouse silhouetted on the hill) were ruined by this irritating affectation.

To be fair there was one scene where the askew camera worked well (and it was one of the best scare sequences in the film). After a car accident a character is trapped under a titling truck, they’re concussed, fading in and out of consciousness, and see only the muddied feet of the dying. If only the cinematographer had saved his arty angle for moments like this.

Also a few key sequences were so murky and poorly composed that I didn’t know what I was looking at. The culmination of these problems came in a quickly cut action sequence that repeatedly jumped to an equally action-packed flashback; all murky, poorly framed and cocked at 65%. This was an emotional climax of the film and I actually had to dip into the commentary to figure out what happened.

My other (though smaller beef) was with the soundtrack. There are numerous misleading sounds (cat purring, rifle shot, chainsaw) that you think are diagetic (and logically could be) but aren't and are just supposed to be atmospheric. These repeatedly threw me out of the film.

I feel bad writing such a critical review of Dead Outside. Its heart is in the right place, it has some good ideas, and is definitely miles better than most first features. If you're into a quiet and intense--though flawed--zombie evening, it's worth a look when it makes it to Netflix

Outbreak Location: Rural Scotland
Zombification cause: Drug resistant virus
Mobility: Slow and awkward (except when they’re fast)
Rating: Two and a half shambling corpses (out of five) [cute graphic tk]

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring Fever

70+ new books in the Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery plus I reorganized the sets a bit more logically.

Check 'em out.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Uses for Books: Fallout Shelter

I attended an estate sale this past weekend in one of the grottiest and most mold-ridden houses I've ever been inside, but it was exciting because it featured my first fallout shelter! Everything in it was rusted out and damp (looking like something out of Tarkovsky's Stalker) but I managed to salvage this pamphlet.

Facts About Fallout Protection (Page: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) Sorry for the lack of a better nav bar. I'm html challenged.

Among the useful tips I found these:
If you're on the road "a culvert that can be blocked off at both ends will furnish protection. A trench or ditch will also protect you if it can be quickly covered with three feet of earth."

and for those in the trade "In a pinch...stacks of books, magazines, newspapers, or filing cabinets" can be "put between yourself and the fallout".

Try doing THAT with a Kindle.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bookselling Tools: Goodtodo

Mark Hurst of Good Experience recently relaunched his fantastic todo list tool, Goodtodo (formerly Gootodo) . He addressed some accumulated user feedback and did a spiffy intro/tour page but it basically operates the same as before--which is just fine because it remains clean, stripped down, and dead simple to use.

Here's his tour video:

The feature that I find particularly useful as a bookseller (and one that I believe is unique to Goodtodo) is the ability to forward emails to a particular date.

So say for instance I tell a customer that I'll hold a book for 2 weeks; instead of staring at that email every day--and trying to remember why I kept it--I can just forward it to Goodtodo dated for the day I want to end the hold (ex, Forward to: - Subject Line: "End hold on Baptism in Shame").

Voila! Unsightly email is gone until I NEED to think about it. It's also great for tracking booksales, bill payments, customer appointments and the like. When you have any todo items scheduled for a particular day, Goodtodo will email you a list on the morning.

Goodtodo has built in logic for parsing dates so it recognizes "March25" as this coming March 25th or "Wed"/ "Wednesday" at this coming Wednesday (and many other variations) so you don't need to overthink how you address the forward. It also stores the body of the email in a details field so you can easily keep track of the entire email exchange.

Also importantly Goodtodo also has a very clean, simple interface which loads quickly and plays well with your Iphone or smartphone.

Mark is a big proponent of inbox zero--which I like in theory but can't quite get there--and Goodtodo is the main tool in his arsenal. If you want to join him the good fight you can purchase his manifesto, Bit Literacy.

Goodtodo is available at a free/trial level (limited to 10 todos a day) and a full version for a nominal subscription fee ($3 per month). Give it a try and I'm sure you'll find it worth the subscription

Full disclosure: Mark is a friend whom I regularly trounce at Settlers of Cataan and Pirate's Cove.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vote Batman!

While listing a pile of 60s gentleman's magazines (along the lines of Cavalcade and Bouncy Babe), I came across this "Eradicate Evil...Vote for Batman!" bumper sticker in two separate photo sets in different magazines.

(click through for full page in Even Less Work Safe Version)

The sensible side of me knows that the photographer worked for multiple magazines and reused the same props.

The fanciful side says that Batman ran a 1966, Giuliani-in-tights mayoral bid that only faltered when he engaged a Joker front company to handle his publicity.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Autobiographical Tijuana Bible

Finished up the batch of Tijuana Bibles that I've been pecking at for a couple of months. The last few were particularly crude and ugly (which makes them hard to date because it's tough to figure out exactly who they're parodying) but I made a nice discovery in one of the last I listed.

In this bible an artist with a sketch pad approaches cartoon character Dixie Dugan (I think) on a park bench and seduces her by describing her looks in high-flown aesthetic terms. In the last post-coital panel she asks to see some of his "masterpieces" and he whips out a tijuana bible saying he "creates the only art which creates a desire for sexual intercourse and which also causes me to remain in privacy."

This bit of self-referential autobiography, in an almost entirely anonymous form, made my day.

Here's the full bible (NOT work safe):

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Accumulated Horrors

I was emptying an old cell phone and found a surprisingly large collection of Thrift Horrors that I had yet to post. Here's a couple:

See the rest in the Thrifthorror LJ community.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bookish Iphone Apps

I recently overcame my Macrophobia (what's stronger than that? Mac-Hate....opposite of Macrophilia?) and bought an Ipod touch (or iTouch as I've creepily contracted it). I wanted a video walkman and I could no longer resist the torrent of seductive apps that friends were constantly showing off.

Also the app store--with its hundreds of cheap or free goodies fighting for your attention by being the most useful or cool--feels like the arena that has always given birth to the best PC programs rather than the standard Apple way where Jobs on high deliverith the new testament...

oh forget it, I'm only justifying my compromised principles.

Anyway here are some apps that I've found useful for bookhunting, selling, listing and reading.

Google Mobile App [FREE]
A somewhat reduced and mobile-optimized set of the standard Google utilities. So far I like these:
  • Google Docs allows me to upload all of my bookscouting lists and keep them in sync with my desktop.
  • Translate helps with foreign language buying decisions.
  • Reader keeps me up-to-date with blogs on the go (though you'll want a secondary RSS app to sync with Google reader because the Google installed font is painfully small and non-adjustable--I use NetNewsWire)
  • Book Reader gives access to Google Book scans. It displays 10-12 pages per long scroll--but between all of the scan artifacts, typographical ugliness and constant scrolling I wouldn't use it for more than fact-checking.
Read It Later [FREE lite version or $4.99 pro]
My favorite new web-tool. You know when you come across a really rich and text-heavy site that you know will be a rewarding read but you don't have the time now? You toss it in a bookmark folder and never look at it again, right? This app will cure you of this. Read it Later is a bookmarklet that you can install on your iphone and desktop. When you find one of those time-consuming sites, you click the "Read it Later" icon and forget about it. Then when you have some spare time (on the train, in the post office line, in the bathroom, etc) open the read it later app and you'll find the full web-page (no connection necessary if you've synced the Iphone) just when you want something meaty to read. I have the free version. Not sure what the pay version adds.

Ebay App [FREE]
I was out of town this past weekend when I had some high-dollar items listed and this app was a good way to obsess over them and keep track of questions and activity. I haven't used it very deeply but the interface is nice (pleasantly cleaner the the desktop My Ebay page) and it did what I wanted.

RoboForm Mobile [FREE]
After an emailing piracy scare a while back I started using Roboform to create and store my passwords. Now instead of being--slight--variations on a theme, my passwords are complete Greek salad that even I couldn't tell you on pain of torture. Problem is when logging in on another terminal I'm SOL unless I'm carrying a printed record of my passwords (the loss of which is a greater risk than hacking). The roboform Iphone app solves this. I can enter a protected site either by opening roboform and clicking on the login I want or I can view the password (PIN and masterpassword protected) and type it into another terminal.

Dragon Dictation [FREE]
This is a mobile version of the Dragon Naturally Speaking software (which I used to have on my PC but must have lost after a crash). It's terribly useful for transcribing long passages of book description when you're trying to hold open an antique tome with one hand. The desktop version had a training mode where it would learn your voice by having you read passages of Alice in Wonderland and such. While the mobile version doesn't have this, it was fairly accurate out of the box (using a cheapo mic) and there's a built-in option to email the text so you can clean up and edit on a real keyboard. I would pay for an upgraded version of this app.

Wikipanion [FREE]
Dedicated Wikipedia search

BookzeeNYC [FREE]
From the NYC BiggApps competition to find creative ways to use city databases. Search a book title and it will tell you libraries that have it.

Kindle App [FREE]
Nice way to test the first few chapters in a book. Much easier on the eyes than the Google Book Reader presentation.

Paypal App [FREE]
Send and receive paypal on the go. Installed but haven't tried it yet.

Alright, running out of steam but I'll add more as I discover them. Are there other booksellers who've found useful apps (or painfully addictive games)? Please let me know. I'd love to compare notes.

And just for the record, I still hate Itunes. I won't let the f%$ker within 2 drive partitions of my music...but the iTouch has won me over.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bookselling Tools: Google Voice as Business Line

I don't have an open shop and I conduct 99% of my business through email, so it doesn't make sense for me to pay for a dedicated business line.

Unfortunately this means that for the few customers who NEED to call--and for a pricey book or ambiguous description, I can't blame them--I either screen the unknown number and forget to play the message for days or I answer with my fuck-you-telemarketer voice, neither of which puts me on the best footing for a potential sale.

So when I heard about Google Voice I thought this could be a solution to my problem.

GVoice gives you a new Google-generated number (potentially matching your area code) which will forward calls to as many telephones as you choose to associate with it. It will also record voicemail as mp3, transcribe it to text (with hilarious results), and forward the message to your email.

In the settings you can tell GVoice to either display the number calling you (or the caller's name if they're in your phonebook) or your Google # for all incoming GVoice calls. I chose this second option and I added the number to my cell ID as "Hang Fire Books."

Now I know when a call is business and I can use my confidence inspiring, tweed-jacket, aged-whiskey voice rather than my paranoid shut-in voice.

There are many interesting setting and customizations--including the ability to filter phone calls like spam!--and I'm just beginning to experiment with it but I've gone ahead and added/made visible the number on all the bookselling platforms I use.

GVoice is still in the limited, invite only stage (Thanks Shawn!) but I'm sure it will soon spread like kudzu. If you try using it as a biz line, let me know of any tricks or kinks you find.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One is a Lonely Number by Bruce Elliott

It was stinking hot, Chicago hot, tenement hot, whorehouse hot. The dribble of sweat combining on both their bodies was slimy. He rolled away from her, not that he thought it would be any cooler because the whole bed was steaming, but because he needed a cigaret desperately afterwards....Looking down at her, not feeling anything, seeing but not thinking about her blobby mouth, black-rimmed eyes, black from the life she led, black from the eye make-up which had smeared and run, his gaze ran down along her naked body to her too full breasts that slopped over on each side of her rib cage. He should have remembered when he picked her up on Division Street that the ones who looks so good in clothes, that stuck out like a bureau drawer, were the ones that fell to pieces when the brassiere came off. But there were so many things he was going to have to remember.

With such a lyrically rank opening--and character descriptions that sound like they were written by an undertaker--how could I avoid reading this 1952 PBO (Lion 100, Earl Bergey cover)?

Larry Camonille was the mastermind behind a mass prison break of 10 convicts out of Joliet. He needed to get out because tuberculosis and the dank prison air have left him with only a single half-rotten lung and he knows that even another year of jail time would be a death sentence.

After procuring the above quoted sickening end to his prison dry-spell, he robs a "tea pad" and makes for the hobo jungle to hop a train to a drier climate.

Circumstance lands him as a dishwasher in a nowhere town where he's stuck between an overripe alcoholic widow, and a 14-year-old nymphet (who covers herself in pancake makeup to appear older). Both of these women discover Larry's criminal past and attempt a combination of blackmail and ill-advised seduction to force him to eliminate something/someone that is interfering with their happiness.

Larry wants to drop them both and go but he has no cash and a barrage of newspaper and radio reports--ticking of his fellow escapees one by one--tells him that the noose is tightening.

For most of its length this book runs at a solid B-grade Cain level but a few scenes--like the one in which TB afflicted transient thinks his inexperienced lover is finally developing some bedroom technique when in fact it's just the beginning of a grand mal epileptic seizure--invoke a level of misanthropy and disgust with the flesh that makes this a memorable and worthy read.

The first edition PB is a bit pricey (which means I'll try to keep it in stock) but there's a 1968 reprint that can be had for $10-12.

Doing research for this review I experienced one of those bizarre synchronicities that the book trade is prone to. The author, Bruce Elliot, was apparently more prolific in science fiction and the pulps than he was in mystery and I wasn't able to find out much about his other hard-boiled titles. But his (minimal) Wikipedia page mentions that he was a practicing stage magician...and what do I have sitting next to my desk but a pile of JUST arrived magic ephemera (to be listed in a few days) containing 20-30 mimeo'd magic/sf 'zines entitled "The Phoenix", edited by none other than Bruce Elliott...and these were "thrown in" by a seller as a bonus!

(click image for full page)

How's that for magic.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Customer Relations

I want THIS to be my next bookmark.

A 1950s stag film brochure via Vintage Sleaze one of Jim Linderman's many worthy projects.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Nunsploitation Rape/Revenge Stop-Motion Animated Avatars

God help me but I was up until 3:30 last night creating these.

Always wanted to be an animator and it struck me that I have all the tools needed.

Resources used:
  • Creepy Dolls
  • Digital Camera (with video capacity)
  • Avidmux
  • Imageready
  • infantile sense of humor
Already planning the sequels...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What'll You Have, Mac?

This great Times Square period piece--and tour of the Village Bookstore on Christopher Street--is part of a 1972 "documentary" entitled Pornography in New York that I turned up on a torrent site.

[Clip not work safe] [or Youtube safe apparently. Crap and I didn't keep my edit...]

Back in the day you needed to frame your smut with cautionary or educational warning to get past the obscenity laws...which I guess is what I'm doing here.

Anyway it's worth tracking down the full 65 minute doc, which features early footage of Cynthia Plaster Caster (I think, or at least someone following in her--ahem--footprints), a tour of the original Pleasure Chest (when it just had bondage gear tacked to wooden shingles), a body-painting studio, and some innocent interviews with Times Square denizens about their sex-lives and attitudes towards pornography.