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Modern Collector Message Board

Modern Collector

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1LouisBranning
Jul 28, 2006, 11:37am Top

I joined the other old book thread too, called "Rare, Old and Offbeat", but those folks over there seem to be talking about strictly antiquarian stuff, comparing their oldest books and such, which is all cool with me and everything, but my primary interest in collecting is strictly books from the last 75-80 years. I've been only semi-serious about it for ten years or so, and of course you can bust your book budget in a heartbeat if you're not careful, but I've accumulated more than a handful of things that are quite nice and enjoy it quite a bit.

2rmckeown
Jul 29, 2006, 9:14am Top

Yes, I agree. I think there is something about meeting authors, actually hearing their voices, getting a signature, and having them hold your copy of their book. I even have a special pen I take with me. Updike, Atwood, Beattie, Gibbons, Cheever, and a few others have all used the same pen to sign my books.

3rmckeown
Jul 30, 2006, 6:55pm Top

I collect novels from Algonquin Press of Chapel Hill, so if anyone has any they would like to part with... let me know!

-Jim, 07/30/06, 5:55 PM

4rmckeown
Aug 5, 2006, 10:05am Top

So where is everybody?

5LouisBranning
Aug 5, 2006, 10:49am Top

I've been around, Jim, but so many folks seem to be MIA after last week's rampage of creating a gazillion new threads...and now nobody's got anything to say.

Does anyone else put their dustjackets in mylar protectors? I've been doing it for a long time now, and just wondered how many do it on a regular basis. In fact, I won't even hardly handle a book until I've got it in a mylar jacket, and very often when one arrives already covered, I'll discard the one it comes in and use my own.

6bookgeekmatt First Message
Aug 8, 2006, 3:20am Top

Following on from LouisB comment what does everyone use to protect thier books? As my very small collection grows I've just invested in some 'Welded book covers' to help protect my most expensive/valued copies (all 3 of them!).

Also whats everyones best 'find'. I've just managed to get a signed limited edition of Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami very cheaply from a Waterstones in Birmingham of all places.

7rmckeown
Aug 8, 2006, 4:50pm Top

I have two huge rolls of the old BroDart plastic film from my days at B Dalton. Covers the dust jackets nicely.

My best find is an error. The dust jacket and spine read "Andre Deutsch", but the title page reads "Knopf." As far as I can tell, no one has ever heard of or seen this book -- I may have the only copy.

I just finished Kafka on the Shore, and I want to get the rest of Murakami.

8conceptbooks
Aug 9, 2006, 9:20am Top

rmmckeon - the mismatched book/dust jacket happens for a number of reasons. when a book is first issued in a second country (in this case, UK publication - Andre Deutsch -of a book first printed in the US - Knopf), dust jacket samples can be tried out on copies of the US printing. occasionally, these mismatched samples are sent out as review copies. mismatched books/dustjackets also occur when a sloppy or misleading used/rare bookseller mates the parts to make a more complete first edition, and misses the publisher difference.

Brodart is what I use as well, and when I'm not so lazy, I'll use rolls of plain 4 mil acetate to create "jackets" for the unjacketed or oversized books.

9LouisBranning
Aug 9, 2006, 10:56am Top

I've been using Archival dust jacket protectors from University Products for a long time now. I get both the 12'' protectors, which can fit almost anything, but I also use the 9'' ones too, cause there's so many books now in the smaller format, plus they also work well on ARCs. And I also have a roll of 4mil acetate like conceptbooks does, strictly for unjacketed books.

10abductee
Aug 9, 2006, 11:02pm Top

Louis, thanks for the information! I need to dustjacket a large portion of my collection, and I wanted to get some idea of what company produces the most versitile dj cover rather than measure each book and do the math! Cheers!

11TheBlindHog
Aug 11, 2006, 12:05am Top

So this is where all the collectors of modern firsts are hanging out.

Following the thread on protecting jackets, I also use the rolls from Brodart. I just finished Brodarting my collection, which meant having to remove a lot of price stickers and pencil marks and so on. I had put it off for about five years worth of collecting, so it took about six months to get done. After I got them jacketed I packed them away in file boxes and started cataloguing. Now I'm using comic book bags to protect the Brodarts (and that's where it ends, as I swear and vow).

That just about wrings all the fun out of having them, but when I think of what sunlight, humidity, and bugs could do to them....

12bookstothesky
Edited: Aug 28, 2006, 3:26am Top

Wow, look out for the tumbleweeds!

Continuing with Louis' and BookGeekMatt's questions, I take my hardcovers to a local used bookstore and have them apply Brodart covers at a cost of 40-50 cents a cover, depending on the book size (yes, I really am the last of the big-time spenders!). Like TheBlindHog, I then often place the books I judge to be valuable--or are likely to be valuable--in oversize comic/magazine bags that I tape shut. Then, the books go in my bookcase behind glass doors. You can get a 6-shelf, reasonably decent looking bookcase with glass doors (sold separately, some assembly required, heh) at Ikea for $180.00 plus tax last time I checked (see the "Bookcases: If you build/buy them, they will fill" group in the next couple of days where I'll post pictures of the bookcases if anyone's interested; it's all the rage over there, honest!).

As for my best find, it would have to be the VG+ 1984 ACE charter mass market copy of Neuromancer that I found in a box while loading books onto LibraryThing. I'd completely forgotten I owned it (need I say it's wrapped in taped plastic bag, natch); now, if I can just track down Gibson for a signature...

Here's one for you all. What's the biggest one that got away? See if anyone can top my story of newbie collecting foolishness. Once upon a time I worked in a bookstore where we had roughly 100 copies of The Da Vinci Code stacked around the store a couple of months after it came out. In came a gentleman looking for a first printing, first edition. Since I'd read about the huge first print run for the book, I said to the customer "why bother, it will never be worth anything because the supply is too large." Now, if memory serves, about 2 weeks before the movie came out, a signed first sold for $3,000+ on abebooks. I never did buy a copy for myself and last I checked, the book was somewhere around the 90th printing, give or take a few. Stuff like that is what makes this hobby fun, right? *quietly sobs into his hanky ('cuz it is kinda late)*

13readingmachine
Aug 28, 2006, 9:26am Top

rmckeown

I'm new around here and wondered if there was a first editions thread. Then I saw your post.

I have a couple Algonquin Press books that you might be interested in. One is a first edition of Kaye Gibbons' Ellen Foster and another is a signed first (I better make sure it's a first) of Gibbons' A Virtuous Woman. I also have a couple of first editions of Clyde Edgerton, not sure which ones however.

14TheBlindHog
Aug 28, 2006, 10:12pm Top

(Message 12) bookstothesky, if I think about it, I probably have a hundred or more stories about "the one that got away." One that came to mind almost immediately after reading your DaVinci Code story was Eragon. I vividly remember standing in front of a huge display and deciding to pass because the book had been privately printed. The true first was going for a couple thousand and I thought there was n way such a huge first hardcover printing would ever increase in value. I went around the corner and bought who- knows-what instead. I also remember looking at $500 copies of the first British printing of the first Harry Potter book and saying "There is no way that book will hold that value." I guess it did, and then some.

15bookstothesky
Aug 29, 2006, 4:32am Top

Hmm, BlindHog, I think we were roughly tied with your Eragon story (another one I let get away, although it was the Knopf edition for me), but you definitely win with the Harry Potter story. The only good thing I can say about missing out on Harry Potter, for me, is that I hadn't yet begun collecting books when the first few novels came out, so I don't have any Harry Potter remorse. Looking back, however, it is kind of mind-boggling how long it took me to wake up to the YA collectibles market once I did start collecting. Live and learn, I guess.

16bookgeekmatt
Aug 29, 2006, 6:59am Top

bookstothesky that Gibson sounds like a nice find! I just got a signed first ed of Virtual Light, not worth a great deal, but nice to own. I can only dream about a 1st ed Neuromancer.

Best 'one that got away' story was from my ex. She nearly went to a book signing by an unknown author who had just released some childrens story about a boy wizard....(hmm wonder what happened to her.) She instead went to the pub.

17aschiavi
Edited: Aug 29, 2006, 8:13am Top

Along the lines of the first editions - there is a group called New Authors First Editions - its an emerging power in the group world and simply needs members to achive its true potential. "Together we can take over the world...."! I started the group if you have not figured it out yet.

About the one that got away.. I have been collecting modern first editions since about 1992. I remember when the Da Vinci Code was first released. I held it in my hand on its release day and put it back on the shelf because I did not any money (poor graduate student). Even though its a little more pulpy than I like, I see it as my biggest fish to get away. I ended up hearing it on books on tape when I moved to Maryland a few years ago during the drive.

18readingmachine
Edited: Aug 29, 2006, 10:20am Top

But will a book like The DaVinci Code retain its value over the long haul? Some collectors swear by hugely popular books, but I'm not one of them, unless the writer can keep cranking out hugely popular books.

It wasn't so many years ago that collectors were paying very high prices for a first edition of James Waller's The Bridges of Madison County. I suspect there's been some correction in the price of that one.

I think there is more potential for value in books that survive from one generation to the next. Maybe The DaVinci Code is one of those books but I kinda doubt it.

19bookstothesky
Edited: Aug 29, 2006, 11:05am Top

Readingmachine,

Here's part of a sales pitch on abebooks for The Da Vinci Code and Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. I think you'll be amused:

"UNIQUE, SPECIAL OFFER LISTING: An interesting sub-genre appears to be forming right now in the collectors' market and has drawn together some of the strongest titles in what may come to loosely be known as the Grail genre. Offered here is a special entry featuring the two most impressive highlights from this select group: Dan Brown's THE DA VINCI CODE and LABYRINTH by Kate Mosse. Interestingly, it must be pointed out that these two titles have demonstrated some of the keenest market value growth of all hypermodern fiction and we especially recommend them as long-term, secure investment items."

Both books, together, are offered at $4600+ US dollars!

Did Labyrinth ever have any value in the first place (reviews have been pretty lukewarm last I checked)?

I'm in agreement with you that Da Vinci Code is overvalued; momentum sales definitely ran the price up before the movie release, and we'll probably see a gradual decline in price for awhile. However, I do think there's enough controversy over the content that the value will eventually start a slow upward climb. The same bookstore that did the above sales pitch is touting a first state edition of the book with a misspelling on page 243, so maybe that'll be the really expensive one?? It'll be interesting to watch and see.

20readingmachine
Aug 29, 2006, 11:17am Top

I would also keep in mind that special offers like the one you quote are not too unlike stock sales pitches. Notice the use of terms like "appears to be" and "may come to be." High-priced book collecting is something of a crapshoot, as I'm sure you already know.

21aschiavi
Aug 29, 2006, 11:18am Top

In the short term I think The DaVinci Code will retain value for a while. However, for a book to have lasting value it actually has to have some literary value. I do not think that anyone can disagree that it is not exactly the bastion of great literature. Will it make the 100 greatest list in 100 years? probably not. I can not, off hand, think of a book that was wildly popular in its time that has sustained the test of time and is today considered great. Popular books are popular because their generally easy for the masses. This is not exactly the environment where profound literature is made. Its popularity probably has led to a large number of 1st editions to be kept on the shelf which will also eventually bring the price down when they come on the open market as the hype dies down. So, DaVinci will probably be remembered as a wildly popular book but not much else.

22aschiavi
Aug 29, 2006, 11:19am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

23aschiavi
Aug 29, 2006, 11:20am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

24readingmachine
Aug 29, 2006, 11:27am Top

aschiavi

Literary value (thank goodness) does still matter, although there may come a time when it doesn't matter as much as it once did. I have collected a few novels that I would read only if there was nothing else available. I've also collected some novels that have rather surprising regional value but that are not otherwise widely collected. Years ago I sold some first editions of Gail Godwin's novels to a collector in North Carolina who had a buyer for them with deep pockets. It almost felt like stealing.

25bookstothesky
Aug 29, 2006, 11:51am Top

bookgeekmatt (message 16)-

Yes, one would have to say I was pretty happy when I found that book. The sad fact is that you'd undoubtedly enjoy owning the book more than me since I remember reading only about 40 pages, putting it down and never going back. I decided to give it another chance a couple of years ago and bought another copy but, of course, I still haven't gotten around to reading it :-) I'm waiting for the next Gibson book so I can hopefully catch him on a signing tour.

Sorry about your ex missing out on the boy wizard, but maybe that's for the best since she is your ex?

Glad to know someone who also embraces their inner book geek. I freely admit to being a book geek when my non-bookish friends (and even my wife, somewhat sadly) jeer at me for driving miles and miles for a book signing.

26TheBlindHog
Aug 29, 2006, 9:25pm Top

I dislike lumping books together with the likes of beanie babies, but at a certain point, I think they are like any collectible in that certain titles become sought after because they are sought after, if you get my meaning. On a comparative basis, I doubt anyone would pick DaVinci over Edward P. Jones' The Known World. Nevertheless, a fine/fine copy of Code costs at least 10 times what a similar copy of Known World brings.

That is the same logic that kept me from paying $500 for the first Harry Potter - how could a YA novel be worth more than For Whom the Bell Tolls or the nice review copy of Catch-22 I'd sold at a book show the year before?

The only explanation is momentum and hype, tying into readingmachine's stock market analogy. For several years, Lowe's was a media darling and a favored investment whereas Home Depot, with many more stores and far greater revenues, was undervalued.

Even if you posit that the Harry Potter market is "frothy" and that the internet applies downward pressure on prices, I think a "Bridges of Madison County" style collapse is unlikely for a book that commands those types of prices. That's not even taking into account Pottermania.

Speaking of hype and mania, interested parties may want to check out Matthew Skelton's Endymion Spring. The 1st British is just under $100 and seemingly scarce (I see two hardcover copies on ABE). The US rollout is just beginning and the plot involves a 500-year old book that contains a secret message from an apprentice to one of the first publishers to use moveable type.

27readingmachine
Aug 30, 2006, 9:08am Top

If I were a betting man, I would bet that Potter value will eventually reside almost exclusively in complete Bloomsbury sets. (Do I have the British publisher right?) The odd first editions will not hold their value over the long haul. I'm not saying they will be worthless, but I suspect the price correction will be pretty significant. Check back with me in 25 years.
:-)

28LouisBranning
Aug 30, 2006, 11:41am Top

I'd guess that first UK and US printings of the first, and possibly the second, Harry Potter books could be valuable items some day, but because of the humongous first printings of the ensuing books in the series, the rest would be worth no more than their face value, if that.

29bookstothesky
Sep 19, 2006, 4:50am Top

In the hope of bringing some life to this group:

Well, I've already posted about Temeraire by Naomi Novik a couple of other places on LT, but I'm going to talk about the book here, too, because I believe it's a winner both as a book to read and as an investment. The UK true first/first of Temeraire (known as His Majesty's Dragon in the USA), as well as the next two books in the series have been optioned within the last week by Peter Jackson (of The Lord of the Rings fame) and the price for the book has already jumped up around 25% on various internet sites. However, I believe Temeraire is only in it's early stages of price appreciation as it will be a couple of years before the movies are made (Jackson seems pretty serious about it). It's my opinion based upon totally non-scientific, empirical observation that Ms. Novik will be more popular than Anne McCaffreyin a few years. Not only does she have the fantasy book buyers hooked with alternate history/dragons, but she also has the Napoleonic war history buffs lining up to read the book.

Get Temeraire now while you still can and hold it for a few years. I don't believe you'll be sorry.

30aluvalibri
Sep 19, 2006, 7:46am Top

thanks for the advice, bookstothesky. Do you own all three of them?

31bookstothesky
Edited: Sep 19, 2006, 12:46pm Top

aluvalibri,

Yes, I do own all three, in various formats. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of His Majesty's Dragon and thought it was a very original story with lots of potential for world-building. Based upon reading HMD, I bought two copies of the UK first/first of Temeraire which I got signed a few weeks ago at the World Science Fiction Convention. When the Peter Jackson news came out, I found a UK bookseller who either hadn't heard the news or hadn't raised the price on the news, and bought another unsigned copy which should be somewhere in transit to me right now.

At the convention I attended a panel with Ms. Novik, Todd McCaffrey and another author of some mid-seventies dragon books who's name escapes me at the moment. I estimate there were 75-100 people in the room and the great majority were there to hear from Ms. Novik. She was asked if a movie deal was being considered, and she exclaimed cheerfully that she "wasn't allowed to comment on it." She also confirmed she'd been signed by Del Rey for another 3 books in the series. I wonder if they'll go hardcover on them in the US this time (and re-release the first 3 in hardcover; I would do both if I were running Del Rey)

I expect a run-up in the value of the books as the release date for the movies draws nearer so for those with a pure profit motive and some patience, that would obviously be the time to sell. Of course, the movies may never be made but Jackson seems pretty stoked about the books at this interview: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/30014

Just my opinion. Anybody else got any hot recommendations they'd like to share?

32readingmachine
Sep 19, 2006, 1:13pm Top

Sounds like a penny stock proposal to me. :-)

33readingmachine
Sep 19, 2006, 1:21pm Top

I've just read part of an excerpt from His Majesty's Dragon and that is one wordy, clumsy piece of . . . less than good writing. I admit to knowing next to nothing about the fantasy genre, so Novik might not be so bad a writer when compared with others working in fantasy.

34bookstothesky
Sep 19, 2006, 1:35pm Top

Ah, readingmachine,

Are you thinking I'm doing the old "pump and dump?" Well, I'm not; I'm a "buy and hold" investor :-)
My daytrading days ended with the passage of the Pattern Daytrading Rule (I think that's what it's called, anyway) a few years back.

As for the writing in the book, it's a first novel, so maybe cut her some slack, especially as you're reading an excerpt rather than the whole book? I've read a whole lot that's worse, but of course it may be that it's just not your cup of tea.

35readingmachine
Edited: Sep 19, 2006, 4:18pm Top

As a collector -- and I can only consider myself a hobbyist -- I find it impossible to separate the quality of the text from the collectible. For instance, I neither own nor seek out first editions of Stephen King's novels because I consider most of his books poorly written. (I know, I've offended millions of readers in one short sentence.)

Collecting for me is more than the potential value a book might attain at some point in time because millions of adolescents are reading it by flashlight long after their parents have told them to go to bed, or because a blockbuster movie with totally awesome special effects has gone into production. It must also be a book with arguably lasting artistic value. (I know, what the hell is that?)

36bookstothesky
Edited: Sep 28, 2006, 10:29am Top

readingmachine,

I understand where you're coming from with your Stephen King example because I too have no interest in seeking out the collectible works of authors who's stories hold no interest for me (not to mention I don't have deep enough pockets to even attempt to buy every book labelled "One to Watch" by bookdealers).

I do believe artistic value is in the eye of the reader and for me the artistic value resides not necessarily in stylish prose, although that's usually a plus, but in--depending on the genre--clever dialogue, evocative scenes of martial prowess, characters that act logically within the confines of the story, creative world-building, unique or creative magic/technology and the ability to evoke the desired emotion within the reader, just to name a few; in short, the ability to tell a story whether compound sentences and thesauri are used or not. I enjoy reading both Patrick O'Brian and, say, Bernard Cornwell, or maybe Dewey Lambdin to keep it all nautical.

The beauty of books is there's something for everyone, including those who mercilessly buy and sell the hot title of the moment with no personal attachment to the book's content. I and many others--judging from the 5 star ratings here on LT--quite enjoyed Temeraire and on that basis I believe it will have lasting artistic value to quite a few people, which makes it a good collectible investment in my mind.

37conceptbooks
Oct 3, 2006, 9:31am Top

I'm intrigued by this recent thread on "ones to watch", as it has been a subject mostly retired by booksellers themselves. Of course we all gamble in a way when we buy an author's works before they are too well known, but I have never seen a specific example of a bookseller making "buy early" recommendations - not that there is anything inherently wrong with it.

The "ones to watch" formula works in a field like wine, where there are dual and exclusive purposes to the purchase - you can save it and drink it, or you can save it and sell it. So customers are alerted to a wine with potential, they buy it, and some (most) will choose to drink it, leaving those who held for selling with a more scarce commodity.

Books don't work that way, and when consumers hold a book for appreciation (even if they read it), it does not get more scarce (although some are lost to sloppy handling or children). So if the popular movie, or other cultural phenom has passed, as they all do, the prices will go down, down, down, over time, until it's just a nice book again.

38TheBlindHog
Oct 10, 2006, 10:13pm Top

I agree with conceptbooks that prices for some titles follow a hype arc that often does resemble a rainbow. What is much more exciting is the rare instances where your own interests anticipate the market or when you are able to time the market. When I read the first reviews for The Known World I did two things very quickly. First, I went on-line and bought as many copies of his first book, Lost in the City as were available on ABE in F/F condition (four copies). Next, I hit the local book stores and bought all the unsold copies of Known World I could find (six copies). The prices on Known World began to appreciate rapidly after the Pulitzer, but Lost in the City really took off. Three years on, its Known World that has the higher value and I suspect that will remain true for some time. It is a very fine work of literature that deserves a place in the pantheon of modern classics.

I have a similar feeling for the works of Daniel Woodrell. His work has been described as "redneck noir". He is critically acclaimed but has very modest sales. In that respect, he is often compared to Cormac McCarthy, who toiled in similar obscurity before the success of All the Pretty Horses. After publication of that novel, McCarthy's earliest works became highly sought after and prohibitively expensive. Woodrell's early works go for a song at present, but I believe that is going to change in the very near future.

39bookstothesky
Oct 19, 2006, 6:00pm Top

BlindHog:

Thanks for the Daniel Woodrell recommendation. I've just ordered Under The Bright Lights and I'll see if I like it before ordering more.

40LouisBranning
Nov 5, 2006, 11:06am Top

I've always thought that a 'topstain' on a book added a very distinctive touch, and certainly enhanced any book's general appearance, but for cost reasons, I assume, it's become rather a rare thing anymore. However, right now I'm in the middle of reading Tim Willocks' new novel The Religion (which is great!) and Jonathan Cape, the UK publisher, has added a deep-burgundy topstain, plus a matching sidestain, and even a bottom stain, to go along with the deep burgundy front/end pages, and it's just an absolutely gorgeous book. It's been so many years since I've found a book stained on all three page ends, that I can't even recall the last one I saw like that.

41bookstothesky
Nov 10, 2006, 5:21am Top

Louis,

I was quite surprised to see The Religion's stained pages when I received my copy and I agree it's a beautiful book (it has a nice heft to it, too). I think it's the only page-stained hardcover in my collection. My only problem with staining is any nick or scratch to a page edge becomes quite noticeable, so extra care in handling is necessary. I'm glad to know it's a good read so far as I've yet to start on my copy.

Switching authors, I noticed you've recommended Adrian McKinty to SeanLong and felt compelled to "second that emotion" on his profile page, just in case he's not motivated to immediately run out and buy all his books :-) Do you have (or have you read) Hidden River by McKinty? I didn't see it in your library. I didn't like it quite as much as Dead I Well May Be, but it was still an enjoyable book.

42LouisBranning
Edited: Nov 10, 2006, 6:48am Top

bookstothesky, I finished Tim Willocks' book the other day, simply a phenomenal piece of fiction, and as thrilling as anything I've read this year. I don't read historical swashbucklers, can't even remember the last one for that matter, but The Religion is just an unforgettable book, and I've already ordered Willocks' Green River Rising and Bloodstained Kings from ABE and am really looking forward to both of them.

Thanks so much for the rec on Hidden River, which I'll likely get to after the new year, as I've already got The Dead Yard penciled in for mid-November, which, as I'm led to understand, is the sequel to Dead I Well May Be, absolutely one of my favorite books this year. And yes, I agree that the dustjacket art on The Dead Yard is just totally blah, really a shame after the very distinctive cover of DIWMB.

43TheBlindHog
Nov 10, 2006, 7:48pm Top

I'll make it a hat trick and endorse Dead I Well May Be. I thought it was a very strong debut and I am looking forward to The Dead Yard.

44bookstothesky
Edited: Nov 11, 2006, 2:35pm Top

Louis and BlindHog,

Well, let's all keep banging the drum for McKinty and maybe he'll get the recognition he deserves. The fiction buyers at B&N didn't even order any copies of The Dead Yard for my local store, so he would appear to need all the marketing help he can get.

Thanks for the complete recommendation of the Willocks book, Louis. If you're not tired of the subject of the Seige of Malta, another really good book is Ironfire (aka The Sword and the Scimitar) by David Ball. Here's what author George R.R. Martin had to say about Ironfire 2 years ago on his website: "IRONFIRE, by David Ball (Delacorte Press, 2004). I love good historical fiction, for many of the same reasons that I love good fantasy. I am a huge fan of Thomas B. Costain, Maurice Druon, Nigel Tranter, Cecilia Holland, and a number of other splendid historical novelists whose works are now sadly out of print. All is not lost, however; there are some excellent contemporary writers picking up the torch, including Bernard Cornwell, Stephen Pressfield, and now David Ball, whose IRONFIRE is one of the best historicals that I've read in years. Billed as "A Novel of the Knights of Malta and the Last Battle of the Crusades," it is both an epic account of the Great Siege of Malta in the 16th century, and the story of Nico and Maria, brother and sister, a couple of Maltese peasant kids who are out playing one morning when they chance to stumble on some Moorish corsairs. Maria escapes them, but Nico is captured and enslaved, and their lives and fates are very different thereafter. Ball evokes the time and place wonderfully, and IRONFIRE moves at a headlong pace from start to finish and teems with colorful settings, memorable characters, advertures, escapes, battles, betrayals, and all that other good stuff. I will definitely be checking out David Ball's other books. Meanwhile, all those of you looking for something good to read as you wait for A FEAST FOR CROWS should hunt up a copy of IRONFIRE."

45LouisBranning
Nov 11, 2006, 5:10pm Top

The David Ball book sounds great, bookstothesky, so I went to take a look at it on Amazon US, and was really surprised, because the cover art shown for Ball's book bears a striking similarity to the dustjacket for the US edition of the Willocks' book, which won't be pubbed until May '07. You might take a look if you get a chance, and see if I'm imagining it or not.

46bookstothesky
Nov 12, 2006, 3:19am Top

Louis,

No, I don't think you're imagining things. Conceptually, the covers are very similar, and I rather like them both, especially the lower half of the Willocks book showing the armor with the green tinge. However, I believe I prefer the UK cover for The Religion, which isn't particularly unusual. I probably prefer UK book covers to US covers around 80% of the time.

Interesting that The Religion's not out over here until mid-May. I wonder if it just took them awhile to find a US publisher or if it's some sort of publishing strategy. Think the US publisher will stain the page edges (green, maybe) to match the cover?? Yeah, I don't think so either :)

47LouisBranning
Nov 19, 2006, 6:28am Top

bookstothesky, thanks so much for the rec on the David Ball book Ironfire: A Novel of the Knights of Malta and the Last Battle of the Crusades. I ordered an as-new US 1st ed of it for $16, from a bookseller in Wisc., and it came yesterday, and wow, just a striking book, brand-new condition with several uncut pages, including the title page. I immediately slapped it in mylar, and it's a very handsome item. I only hope it's half as good as the Willocks' book, though it really looks terrific, and can't wait to get to it. Thanks again.

48aschiavi
Nov 20, 2006, 10:12pm Top

Has anyone picked up the new book Only Revolutions by Mark Z Danielewski, of House of Leaves fame?
House of leaves was an amazing book, albeit very weird and a difficult read, but a great story. The new one, Only Revolutions seems to be just as cutting edge but I have no heard anything about it. I wonder if he can stay so strange and continue to write good stuff. Anyone?

49bookstothesky
Nov 21, 2006, 9:18pm Top

Re: Message 47

My pleasure, Louis! There's very little I like better than sharing a good book with a receptive audience.

50subman
Apr 11, 2007, 8:40pm Top

Hi. I just found this group and wanted to comment about protective covers.

I have been using covers from General Book Covers of Altoona, WI. (htp://www.generalbook.com). Phone: 715.836.9289. They come in various sizes and are easy to use. I recommend them.

51chezwhen
Apr 11, 2007, 9:20pm Top

just couldn't resist joining a group that contemplates literary merit and investment potential. Bless you all

52varielle
Sep 20, 2007, 2:53pm Top

It looks like there might have been some recent activity here. Most of my collection came as a result of being on the steering committee for a small college program that brings authors to town to do readings. In the beginning (20+ years ago) I was just being nice to some obscure writers and unknown poets by buying their books and getting them to sign it for me. Surprise! Lots of them aren't obscure and unknown anymore and probably aren't so thrilled to do signings anymore. Lucky for me.

53STOCeallaigh
Apr 15, 2008, 12:01pm Top

i've been collect books for a while now, but im not an expert. i recently got a british first edition of A clockwork orange; it's not signed by the author; it's only got a replica jacket and some amadán scrawled their name inside the cover. but i still think it's an impressive one to have, am i wrong?

54prufrock21
Apr 15, 2008, 2:30pm Top

If it's in good condition, yeah. Too bad it doesn't have the original dust jacket.

55STOCeallaigh
Edited: Apr 16, 2008, 6:36pm Top

It's not actually too bad, well, a lot better than my three men in a boat.

56prufrock21
Apr 16, 2008, 8:27pm Top

What are you reading now?

57STOCeallaigh
Apr 17, 2008, 8:55am Top

#56: i'm reading Stoner by John Williams; i'm really enjoying it but am finding it hard to make time for it. what are you reading yourself?

58prufrock21
Apr 17, 2008, 2:27pm Top

Sleeping with the Devil by Robert Baer, an ex CIA operative with experience in the Middle East. An eye opener.

59STOCeallaigh
Apr 17, 2008, 3:03pm Top

I just looked it up; sounds interesting, I’ll have to remember the name. Have you ever read the great war for civilization by robert fisk; I’ve been dipping in and out of it during the last year (it's over a 1000 pages). I got hooked on fisk's writing in the independent during the last Lebanon crisis

60prufrock21
Apr 18, 2008, 2:59pm Top

A great read, and enlightening. There are passages which have been blacked out. He has also written a spy thriller, Blow the House Down.
No, I haven't read The Great War. Last time I read a thousand page book
wasTolkien's Ring Trilogy. Was up to my ears in Frodo.

61STOCeallaigh
Apr 18, 2008, 9:15pm Top

Yes, but 1000 pages with our furry footed friend is time well spent. in secondary school we read the hobbit in English. Many a debate was had over who would win in a fight, Bilbo or Frodo. What did you think of the movie in comparison? Didn’t they leave out the burning of the shire? (it’s years since I read it, too long)

62prufrock21
Apr 20, 2008, 4:04pm Top

I agree. I read the Ring 3logy in college, when Tolkien and Middle Earth where in. I also liked the movie, espcecially
the ring wraiths and the fight sequences. Of course, the movie can't compare with the books in detail, but I found it great escapist fun.

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