Sunday, November 07, 2010

My Rescued Orphans

One person's garbage is another person's treasure.
Well, maybe in this case "garbage" is too strong of a word… at any rate, I capitalized on what other people did not want, this weekend.
I went to the 49th Annual Rockcliffe Park Used Bookfair and I picked up a total of 32 books for $68.50. That's an average of $2.14 per book.
And I mean, these are gorgeous, lovely books! Some of them are hot off the press, like Martin Amis's The Pregnant Widow, which I was going to buy at full price.
I think I paid $4 for it here!
Wow -- some real beauties were to be found -- let's not call them "used".
Let's call them…. "previously loved." Discarded by original owners. Nabbed up, literally adopted by me -- and I have cleared out an entire shelf of old slip-cased National Geographics to make way for these lovelies.
My shelf issues are at a critical Stage of Displacement… in other words, if anything is to go on, something else has to come off.
My question tonight involves first editions.
One of the most awesome books I snapped from the Realm of Obscurity was this pristine edition of John Steinbeck's
The Winter of Our Discontent.

<-- The thing is PERFECT!
One of my favourite arguments I like to muster in any sort of literary environment is, "Who is a better writer, Steinbeck or Hemingway?"
You'd be surprised at how this innocent [yet devilish] question will turn the calmest of folks into raging piranhas. It's a downright barracuda of a question to drop at your next gathering!
Anyhoo -- my answer is always Steinbeck.
I just love him. Yes, better than Papa.

So, as you can imagine -- the only disfigurement on the dust jacket of this book was from the bit of drool that fell from my mouth as I slapped the thing into my book box.
And now -- my question...
I have since wondered if this is a FIRST EDITION.
My research has revealed that the book was published in 1961 by The Viking Press.
With this very dust jacket on it.
My book is a 1961 Viking, but nowhere in it does it SAY "First Edition".
My fellow Bookovores [<-- should be an official tax-exempt cult]… can you please help me on this conundrum? Do first editions always have to declare their... Firstness?
Is it possible that I may have nabbed a first edition for $3.00?
In which case I will be very content, this winter? Should I be setting aside a special exalted place on my shelf for this serendipitous gem?
Or should I just place it amongst the other rescued orphans?


D.B. said...

I'm certainly no expert, but I would make room in the exalted section. What it comes down to, is this-what is YOUR criteria for a collectible? It's YOUR library, dude.

p.s. Steinbeck over Hemmingway....but OF COURSE!

Cipriano said...

Ahhhh... one vote for Steinbeck. I like it.
I'm with ya, Babe.
Anyone else?
Any barracudas out there?

Trish said...

I prefer the crinkly feel of previously loved books over the stiff, brand new ones any day. The prices are hard to ignore too! I love that. And, hey, this is really cool - I am a Rockcliffe Park Public School alum and have been to that very same book sale before (in the mid 70s when I was a kid) I remember the acres of tables covered in books and I would go right to the kids section looking for titles like 'My Friend Flicka' and 'Island of The Blue Dolphins'. Heh, the memories!

Anywhoo, as for your question about first editions? I don't know . . . would be cool to find out though. Keep us posted!

Trish said...

And, yeah, I'll have to go with Steinbeck too. I've just read more of him than Hemingway, which says something I guess.

Carys said...

I'd say that was a pretty good haul. I often pick up 'unloved' books outside my Amnesty bookshop at 20p each. I've found some great stuff in there.

Anonymous said...

Hey there!

It is always fun when you find great books that you weren't expecting. :)

In answer to your question about First Editions - another way to see whether it is a first is to look at the page with the publishing information. At the bottom you should see a line of numbers. If the end numbers have a "1" then it is a first. So it would look like this: "1 2 3" or "3 2 1". With international titles you have to be careful because it could be a First American Version which is not the same value of a first in whatever country it comes from. For example, the Harry Potter books - a English first is MUCH more valuable than an American first. The other thing you might want to look for are oddities about certain printings if you know of them. Like a certain word on a certain page was typed wrong. That kind of thing. Good luck!

Erin in Boston

Stefanie said...

Great haul! Your new books all look so happy to be in their new home. My vote goes to Steinbeck. I also think Erin gave you good advice. You could also take the book to a reputable book dealer and they can tell you for sure if it's a first and how much it is worth.

Anonymous said...

Definitely Steinbeck and therefore the book, first edition or not should be in a place of honour.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hemingway here too.

Cipriano said...

So you know of the very Sale I am talking about.... isn;t it the best? And thank you for voting for the better author.

Finding the really good previously-loved book deals, mmmm... I think it is so fun. Cheers to you!

Thank you for these tips -- my research continues. I will let you know if I find out anything conclusive.

Your last point is so good, in talking about the book at work today, one guy told me of a store here in town where I can take my book and find out for sure.

Thank you for voting for Steinbeck and I agree, the book should have a place of honour. Hell, the thing is two years older than me... I WISH I LOOKED AS GOOD AS IT DOES!

Anonymous & Anonymous:
Thank you for your votes but here are the current standings:
Steinbeck -- FIVE [counting my own vote]
Hemingway -- TWO

Isabella said...

A first edition does not necessarily state that it is one, and that's particularly true of older books, because saying so implies there are numerous editions (or printings), and when you print the first edition, it's really only the ONLY edition, it doesn't become the first until you have a second one.

Oh, and, ahem, Hemingway.

Anonymous said...

I say Papa, who did not want to "get into the ring with Tolstoy," as you may recall.

Melwyk said...

I have an easy answer to the Steinbeck vs. Hemingway dilemma...neither! ;) I don't really like either of them so no problem for me to decide.

Cipriano said...

Isabella, thank you for your advice regarding my possible first edition. And for your vote.
It seems as though Mr. Hemingway is gaining ground here, even though I think that maybe this "anonymous" contributor may be cheating... doubly-dipping!
At any rate, it now stands at
Steinbeck -- 5 votes
Hemingway -- 4 votes

And Melwyk has thrown a new category into play, with her one vote for neither author!
Cheers, all.
Happy reading to you all!

Shark said...

I'm not sure who published Steinbeck, but if it's Scribner, like Hemingway, the first editions will have a capital A on the title page.

Also, I think you know who I vote for.

Cipriano said...

Shark's vote ties it up at 5 -- 5.

Anonymous said...

Should I break that tie?
Hemingway...hands down.
"Courage is grace under pressure."

Cipriano said...

Hemingway is very popular with non-bloggers!