Category Archives: bookstores

At 75% Off, I Couldn’t Resist

Copy of 20141009_133837The second hand bookstore that’s going out of business has now reduced inventory to 75% off.  This is like offering catnip to cats.  I’ve broken the titles up into 4 loosely related groups.  Makes it easier to see them in a picture that way.

First, Joel Rosenberg.  I’ve never read any of his books, but years ago a friend recommended them.  They look like a lot of fun.  Not all of them are Guardians of the Flame series, but most of them are.  I think I got the whole set.  The other two (D’Shai and Hour of the Octopus) seem to be a blend of fantasy and mystery.

20141009_133650The next group is general fantasy, with an emphasis on sword and sorcery.  The Glen Cook is a reading copy.  The copy I have is signed.   I’m in the process of obtaining more of Kurtz’s Deryni novels.  I’m not sure I’ll read all of them, but I’ve heard the earlier ones are good and aren’t as depressing as the later books.  The Oron books I’m not too sure about.  David C. Smith has written several different S&S series, but I’ve not read any of them.  I know nothing about this series.  The Hour of the Dragon is, of course, something I’ve got other copies of, but I thought I would grab this one on general principles.

20141009_133437I’ve got the Chad Oliver volumes of Classics of Modern Science Fiction, but,  hey, this Chad Oliver.  These were originally published when I was in college, although the first few volumes may have come out when I was in high school.  It’s been too long to be sure.  Not all of the volumes appealed to me at the time (still don’t), so I didn’t try to collect them.  I may try to accumulate a set and see if I can get anything for it on ebay.  The Leinster I hadn’t seen in this edition.  I also love the cover of Medea, although I’ve got a trade paper copy of this one.  It’s hard to go wrong with a Freas cover.

20141009_133932The final selection is science fiction.  I’ve been eyeing the Mike Shepherd/Moscoe books for a while.  (Shepherd and Moscoe are the same person.)  I’ve liked pretty much everything I’ve read by Michael Bishop.  My reading has been confined to short stories mostly, so I thought I would give his novels a try.  Ditto for Robert Thurston.  Simak is always worth reading.  I’ve got this particular title, but still.  Finally, I read some of the shorter pieces that make up The Expediter in high school when they were published in Analog and thought I’d see if they were as good as I remembered.

The store is still open, although some of the best stuff is starting to disappear.  (I missed a set of H. Rider Haggard because I waited.  Blasted cash flow.)  I’m sure I’ll pop in again before too long.

More Bookstore Closing Acquisitions

I posted recently about one of the local used bookstores (currently there are 4: 2 good, 1 decent, 1 not worth bothering with) closing and some of the titles I picked up.

You know I went back.  The store will be open for a little while yet.  Here’s what I picked up this time.

More AcquisitionsI couldn’t resist the cover of the Howard pastiche by Offutt, even though I doubt I’ll read it.  The People of the Mist is an upgrade of my existing copy.  The Starfollowers of Coramonde is a later edition, but the Darrell K. Sweet cover matches the one on the first novel in the series.

I loved Sean Stewart’s Galveston some years back, but I haven’t read any of his other books.  The Tanith Lee speaks for itself.  The third row contains the first 3 of 4 in Lawrence Watt-Evans Lords of Dus series.

The last row is a reading copy of one of Evangeline Walton’s books that was part of the BAF series.  The Zahn is part of a series that looks like a lot of fun.  And the Paul Preuss because I wanted some solid science fiction in the old style.

But the gem of this little collection is the volume in the upper left of the picture.  It’s Whispers, edited by Stuart David Schiff.  It’s a collection of stories published in his groundbreaking small press magazine of the same title.  I’ve got a copy of this already, but I couldn’t pass this one up.  The contents include “Sticks” by Karl Edward Wagner, “The Barrow Troll” by David Drake, “The Dakwa” by Manly Wade Wellman, plus stories by Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, William F. Nolan, Hugh B. Cave, Dennis Etchison, Joseph Payne Brennan, Ramsey Campbell, Richard Christian Matheson, Brian Lumley, and many others.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go reread “Sticks”.

Recent Acquisitions

There are a few used book stores here in town.  Two are pretty good, one is so-so, and I’m not sure the fourth isn’t a front for something else.

Anyway, the one I consider the best is closing.  The owner doesn’t have a lease but owns the storefront.  As a result, he’s not in any hurry to shut his doors.  This is good, because he’s got a pretty thorough inventory.  It’s one of the great second hand stores where there are stacks of books in all the aisles, and a few minutes to see if a particular title is to be had turns into the better part of an afternoon.

Acquisitions 1I passed through the other day and picked up a few things.  At the moment everything is half off.  That percentage will increase as times goes on and the day the store shuts its doors for good draws nigh.  You know I’ll be going back. Continue reading

An Open Letter to Stephen King

The Wall Street Journal published an article (link may expire) yesterday in which Stephen King announced that his next novel, Joyland from Hard Case Crime, won’t have an electronic edition.  As you can imagine, there’s been no end of comment on the web.  After reading some of the remarks, both supportive and not so supportive, I thought I’d put my two cents in, specifically where he said “…let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one.”

Dear Mr. King,

While I doubt you’ll ever read these words, or care very much if you did, I still would like to go on record responding to the comments you made recently regarding Joyland not having an electronic edition. 

I’ve read a number of your books over the years, and I’ve enjoyed most of them.  I particularly appreciate your publishing Joyland through Hard Case Crime as Hard Case is one of my favorite publishers.  Your association with them is sure to strengthen their sales, helping to insure they continue to publish more books.  And for the record, I’ve been intending to buy a print copy of Joyland, if for no other reason than I like they way the look on the shelf and have an almost complete set.

I’m not going to chastise you for holding onto the digital rights to your book.  More power to you for doing so.  I only wish all authors had that choice.  Nor do I wish to take you to task for taking control of your career.  I only wish more authors would.  Then maybe publishers wouldn’t try to slip so many draconian terms into their contracts.

Over what I do wish to take issue with you, sir, is the statement you made in which you said “…let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one.”  I find that to be highly insulting.  The are multiple reasons why I feel this way.  Please allow me to explain. 

First, being able to buy books without having to go to a bookstore is a huge advantage to many, I would even say most, readers.  Many people can’t simply “stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore” because there aren’t any within driving distance.  While there may be bookstores in every community on the coasts, I can assure you that is not the case in flyover country.  When I was in high school the nearest book store was over an hour’s drive away.  And I didn’t live in an isolated part of the country.  Furthermore, not everyone who lives near a bookstore is physically able to go.  A number of elderly and invalid persons have been able to enjoy reading through either electronic books or ordering books online who would otherwise not be able to buy new books.

And speaking of online bookstores, will Joyland be sold online through venues such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble?  We both know it will.  As well as in Wal-Mart, Costco, Target, and other large discount box stores.  If you wish to support bookstores, have you tried to keep your books from being sold there as well?  I realize you probably can’t prevent your titles from being sold in those venues.  But the big discounts those stores force on publishers have hurt authors and traditional bookstores.

The second, and more controversial, reason I take offense at your words, Mr. King, is that I’m beginning to question to what extent bookstores should be supported.  I love browsing, but the experience is becoming less and less enjoyable.  There are three stores in the city where I live that could be considered general interest bookstores that are not second-hand, religious, or university bookstores.  One is Barnes and Noble. The other two are Hastings, which is a chain based here in Texas. 

Hastings isn’t much of a bookstore.  Most of its sales are from music, movies, and video games.  The small portion of its floorspace devoted to books is a mix of new and used.  The selection is poor, and many of the bottom shelves are empty.  My experiences with what passes for customer service there have been so bad (to the point that I was treated as though I was a thief when my five year old son had to got to the bathroom, charging more than cover price for books, etc.) that I won’t spend my time or money there.

Barnes and Noble has been on a downward spiral since I moved to this city three and a half years ago.  The space devoted to books has continued to diminish to make room for toys, games, puzzles, Nook accessories, and assorted doodads.  The selection has diminished in quality and variety.  Last summer I went in looking for two new hardcover releases, one mystery and the other science fiction.  The computer said they were in stock, but they weren’t on the shelves.  I assumed the store had only ordered a single copy of each that had sold out.  Two weeks later I found out what was really going on.  Multiple copies of the books had been ordered.  They simply hadn’t been taken out of the boxes and were still in the stockroom after two weeks.  This is typical of the customer service I’m finding at every B&N I’ve visited in the last year.

Tell me, Mr. King, why should I support that business model when I can order just about any book from my home, in either electronic or print edition, with only a few clicks?  Why should I get out in the heat, put up with the traffic, endure a store full of unsupervised children whose parents have left them at the mall for the evening, and try to tune out the music blaring from the PA system only to find there’s next to nothing that interests me or that the recent release I’m looking for was never stocked? 

I love bookstores and very much want them to stay.  But the bookstores are going to need to rediscover who they’re truly in business for, the customer.  Not the sales reps.  Not the major publishing houses.  Not even the authors.  Bookstores which don’t have customers don’t stay in business.  You speak and people listen, Mr. King.  Rather than insulting your readers, next time please encourage the bookstores to be more reader oriented.

Thank you.