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Best Guess Buying (1 Viewer)

Recently -- driven by the glacial pace at which my PBA book are coming and a wife who's out of commission with knee surgery -- I've been playing a little 'best guess buying'.

While I'm happy to buy books on eBay, at other auction houses, from ABE, from known dealers and so forth, one of the things I really get a bang out of is getting the rare 'insane deal' online.

It's like finding some crazy rare book in a bargain bin, only it requires pouring over hundreds of listings, generally late at night. You can't quite tell the condition, you may not be able to suss out the edition, but if you're smart and quick, you can make a great score, cheap, which is half the fun.

I ordered three books from different book sites w/o asking questions, using some intuition, and praying to the book gods.

1. Found a $51 copy of Fante's 'Dreams from Bunker Hill'. Listed as 1/500 (which would indicated normal trade edition), but once you read the entire listing it said it was signed (which came in an edition of 200). Best case scenario, it's signed of 200, worst case, it's a first (still easily worth the $50), and the seller just misread the colophon. Went for it, and I'm now the proud owner of a $50 signed Fante. DAMN!

2. Found a listing for Pulp for $57. Listed as having acetate jacket with a spine that only said 'PULP CHARLES BUKOWSKI' with no 'BLACK SPARROW PRESS'. Given that the first trade of Pulp came shrink-wrapped and did have BSP on the spine, I thought I could get lucky. Additionally, the listing said there was 'writing on the first blank page'. Could the writing be a signed tipped-in page? Sadly no. Shockingly, it turned out to be a second print with some yahoo's name in it. While I overpaid for a 2nd print of Pulp, I'm in no way sad.

3. Found an ex-lib copy of Burning in Water, Drowning in Flames for $17. Listing says it' says it's a hardcover, and dated 1974, so I'm feeling at least a little hopeful it's one of those fantastically rare library trade editions. Hell, if not, picking it up in hardcover for under $20 is a deal no matter what.

Pretty solid week overall, thought I'd throw this out there to see if others had come across any crazy finds lately.
Sounds like a possible way to score cheap rare books and a good way to pass the time. I'm in more of a selling mode than buying mode these days, unfortunately.
Fair point. I admit I'm ridiculously lucky to have a used bookshop, so anything that doesn't pan out the way I'd like can simply be resold back out into the wild. BTW -- I'm wild about Death at the Flea Circus, and we've got it up in our recommended section here at Kilgore Books in Denver. Nice job!
we'll see how my experiment in best guess buying pans out next week... there's an art book by the french cartoonist jean giraud that went out of print only a few months after it came out - it wasn't cheap to begin with (around $75), but now it is hard to find for less than $150, if not more... it popped up on a french site i buy a lot of european books from at the original published price, and i grabbed it, but i'm not sure if it is the actual book or a new edition of it. i'll be kind of disappointed if it isn't a first printing/first edition or whatever, but i couldn't pass it up.
Jordan, you could go hog wild (and broke many times over) on art books. Name any major artist, most minor ones and many unknown ones and you can find books on them or by them. Depends what you are after: a regular book, a limited edition, a limited edition with prints or paintings or drawings, handmade artist books. You might want to build a collection based on a certain artist or period or movement. If you are diligent you find books for reasonable prices. Depends how far you are willing to go. I guess if you love the art more than the book then you'll never be disappointed with a purchase - good rule for poetry and art generally, maybe?
Thanks, Kilgore. Me? Recommended author in a Denver bookstore? How weird is that? Will it be safe for me to travel through Denver now, or will I be mobbed at the bus station by autograph seekers? Speaking of bus stations, I once gave a poetry reading at the bus station where I am also a rider. It was strangely disconcerting. Now the bus mall is fenced off. It's only 6 or 7 years old and in danger of collapsing -- your typical sleezy civic contracting fraud case. Even more disconcerting to walk by a place I once read and it's now an abandoned site.
wasn't really looking for advice on how to collect art books - just sharing my latest experiment with best-guess buying (a good term that i am going to start using)... unfortunately this one turned out to be a bust - after a week, i got an email that the order had been canceled, since the book was no longer available. looks like it is out of print after all, which is a shame, since i don't really want to drop $200 or whatever to buy it from ebay.fr. oh well - i'll keep looking, and it may turn up again.
I've had that happen many times. One Amazon seller, internationalbooks, is terrible. I collect Cormac McCarthy books, and they every once in while have a real gem at a fair price. I order, it gets marked as 'shipped' and then suddenly it gets cancelled. Sorry you lost out this time. That's a drag.
Jordan, no, of course you know what you're after and you know the book trade better than I do. I suppose I was just making general points. I don't collect books (seen and read plenty though)...

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