Copies In Existence... (1 Viewer)

Not positive this has been discussed in detail before, but was wondering about the number of copies that may still be in existence for Hank's books prior to 1969. For instance, there were 3100 copies of Crucifix and 777 copies of It Catches printed by Loujon. How many are actually still floating around? 2000 Crucifix, 500 It Catches? How about Flower Fist or Poems and Drawings? 100, 50? I know we can only hazard a guess, but would be interested in opinions. What is truly rare and what is scarce and what's the difference. I always felt that Crucifix was undervalued based on the 3100 figure, but who knows? Not so concerned with BSP except for Terror Street, which seems to also be undervalued. Anyway, just an idle speculation.
 

mjp

Founding member
was wondering about the number of copies that may still be in existence for Hank's books prior to 1969.
All of them?

I've seen some pretty beat up books, but throwing a book in the garbage can isn't something most people do. Especially those Loujon monstrosities masterpieces. Even if you inherited one of those and didn't know anything about books or Bukowski you'd probably think twice about throwing it out.

My anecdotal and unscientific observation after 20 years of looking at these things is that the books are pretty much all out there. The magazines, though, not so much. Which makes sense, since the magazines almost all had much smaller runs, and are, by their nature, ephemeral. National Geographic hoarders notwithstanding.

What you do see with some of the old chapbooks is they are probably very scarce because in some cases they weren't all sold or distributed. Which could also mean that they are still out there, in a dusty boxes in attics or basements. But unfortunately, something like an old box with 300 copies of Run With the Hunted in it is probably more likely to wind up in a landfill than a single copy of the same book.
 
Probably should have been clearer. Didn't mean in the aggregate, but per edition. Yeah, it's definitely harder to
trash a book, but still, those early chaps can't all be still around. As for mags, some of those early Wormwoods are
fairly difficult to find, though obviously not impossible. But as far as the National Geos and Colliers, the move took
care of the bulk of them.
 

mjp

Founding member
All we can do, of course, is guess based on the number of each title that come onto the market. But markets change. A lot of things that were considered scarce pre-eBay turned out to be more common than anyone thought. The funny thing about the Internet though is it didn't make most of those things cheaper as they suddenly became more plentiful, because the potential number of consumers also increased. Pre-Internet a lot of us bought Bukowski letters and poem manuscripts from bookseller's mail lists for prices that would seem absurdly low today. The Internet giveth, and the Internet taketh away. Selah!

As far as the early chapbooks go, I don't think they were more likely to be thrown away than any other book. You had to want those books to get them the first place. In fact you had to really want them, since most people around the world couldn't walk in to their local bookstore and buy any of them. I don't think a book by a single author and a literary magazine with 20 different writers is an equal comparison, as far as what people might be likely to toss in with the coffee grounds.
 
Think about the number of copies printed and the number available on abebooks for these titles:

Poems and Drawings: 500 (5 listed on abe)
Cold Dogs: 500 (6 listed on abe)
Confessions: 500 (4 listed on abe)
Assholes: 400 (1 listed on abe)
8 Story Window (first): 400 (17 listed on abe)
Bukowski Sampler (orange wraps): 400 (8 listed on abe)

I don't know if we have enough data points to draw any conclusions from this, but the number of copies printed doesn't seem to have much bearing on how many copies are available at this time. Age would seem to be more of a reason, but I find it hard to believe that a 50 year old book is that much harder to find than a 45 year old book.

Not sure I really have a point, but I took the time to look up the numbers, so I typed them out. So there you go.
 

mjp

Founding member
I don't know if I would draw any conclusions from availability on Abe. If a professional bookseller (which seem to be the bulk of the sellers on Abe) has two or three copies of a $500 book, they aren't going to list them all at the same time.
 
Fair enough, although I'm not too sure about professional sellers having multiple copies of those titles in a large number of cases. But, if they do, then consider this: For the titles that have more than one or just a few listings, the odds are in favor of multiple sellers having multiple copies. In that scenario, the ratio of available copies of 8 Story Window to Assholes gets even larger.

I'm still not sure if I've arrived at anything resembling a cogent point, however. I guess I'm mildly surprised at the wide range of available copies for six different titles from basically the same era with more or less the same limitation. But it's probably not a coincidence that the most copies are listed for the two least expensive titles.
 

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
Being the asswipe I am, i have tried to create my own monopoly of Buk titles by buying the three lowest on Abe. And this actually worked a few times. The Day It Snowed in LA hardcover signed and sold at X-Mas time was my best feat. My biggest mistake was buying a copy of Scarlet for $1,000 when the next lowest was $1,700. That one has been on the books for 6 months now.

But back to multiples, I have bought much lesser priced items from Abe sellers (Jeff Maser for example) thinking I'd monopolize the market on those, only to find out Jeff had three more. Of course I didn't ask Jeff first.

Anyway, my point is that some booksellers have multiples, especially in the signed official editions -- first and foremost New Years greetings. They got as many of those as Martin would send them.

Sincerly,
Asswipe
 
This may or may not be a good place to ask this but it sort of coincides.

Does anyone know the reason why a major publisher such as Ecco hasn't reissued some of those older collections such as Crucifix, It Catches, Fire Station, etc
 
$. The majority of poems in Crucifix... and It Catches... are in Burning in Water... and a few other places, while all of Fire Station is in Play the Piano Drunk...
A publisher like ecco isn't in this business to cater to a few hundred or even a few thousand people who'd love just to hold a facsimile of the original publication. Although I can understand the allure of having something close to the original if you can't pony up the coin for an original. But consider the cost of producing a different volume (and, in cases, a premium volume) that contains the same poems as a book you are already producing. The market is tiny, the cost is high and it makes no sense to them (or to me).
 
Ah! I didn't realize that those poems were in those other collections. Makes total sense now that they wouldn't re-print those originals.
Thanks for the info. That helps a lot.
 

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