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one of the rarest????? (1 Viewer)

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
Hi,
I thought that this was a classic overstatement of rartity. I know that on eBay the term "Rare" is used too often. Hell, I have been guilty of using the overusing the word, but this takes the cake...

"THIS IS ONE OF THE RAREST CHARLES BUKOWSKI BOOKS TO BE HAD."

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=280117436872

This is from an ebay listing for "Crucifix in a Deathhand", which had a first edition run of 3100 signed copies. Easily the largest print run of any signed edition of Bukowski's EVER. By far the most common early signed book that can be had. Not only were there a lot printed, but these were sold for $7.50 (?), which is $41.11 in today's dollars. This would not have been a book that would be bought, read and thrown out.

Of course, these are beauties and are worth owning one, but rare, it is not...

Bill
 

chronic

old and in the way
I agree... it's all spin. At 3100 copies it is considerably more common than any of the hardbound Black Sparrow first editions. It would more properly be labeled as "common, but kind of expensive," but then, who wants to buy a common book?
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
i am so thankful that they printed 3100, because it means i may actually be able to own one someday. the more i see of this book, the more i want one, and if they had only done a small signed run, it would be nearly impossible to get it at a price most (or even some) people could afford.
 

mjp

Founding member
I agree, I think this is a great book, because it's early, it's an example of the Webb's work, and it's relatively affordable. Much more affordable than It Catches, slightly more affordable than Terror Street, or any number of early books. It's great that a Bukowski book from the 60's is still within reach of most people.
 
Definitely right! A beautiful book!
Only the stupid highschool-expressionistic illustrations are bothering me. They are so much out of place!
 
that's too funny Bill, I just listed 4 items and noticed I was GUILTY of using the word RARE almost every time!!! Talk about overkill, plus to be honest, a couple really aren't all that rare, I guess it 'appeals' as a good SALES tecnique, but ultimately it's WAY overused (I'm guilty, but it's TOO late to change it now!). but I keep it in the back of my mind from now on, nothing is getting listed as RARE unless it's REALLY RARE...
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
Hi O,
As I mentioned, I have been guilty of this too, but listing a book like Crucifix as RARE and listing it as "ONE OF THE RAREST CHARLES BUKOWSKI BOOKS TO BE HAD" takes it to a whole new level.

Bill
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
Hi,
I would not say that it is even kina rare. Still it is one of the most beautiful Bukowski books out there and since there were 3100 printed, it is still somewhat affordable. Moe's in Berkley (listed on abe), has a copy for $172.50. Others sell for up to $950, which is way overpriced. Still. If I was able to get one and did not have it, I would JUMP at $172.50 (and for the record, I have no interest in seeing this sell).

Bill
 
listing a book like Crucifix as RARE and listing it as "ONE OF THE RAREST CHARLES BUKOWSKI BOOKS TO BE HAD" takes it to a whole new level.

True in some way: of course it is NOT AT ALL "one of the rarest" AND to claim big money for it is not reasonable
- BUT I dare say, that compared to regular editions of Any book, 3100 IS rare.

Don't forget, that most buyers on ebay are not professional collectors, most of them look for cheap used books and would never understand, why 'some old used crap' should sell for a 3-figure-price at all. Compared to most books, it's even reasonable to be called rare if it's 'only' signed by the author even if it was a big trade-edition of 50,000 or 200,000 or more. Then take 3100 of which I guess less then the half is available at all/in Any condition, that DOES make it rare (even though in this case the whole edition was signed).

So, while I totally agree that claiming it to be "one of the rarest" is a con, the term 'rare' does fit I think.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
If I were selling it, I'd call it "scarce and sought after." Rare, it is not. Many genuinely rare books can be bought cheap because nobody wants them, but that's another subject.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
ps -- given it's beauty and initial high price, I imagine the survival rate is good, with most copies printed still around. That makes it even less rare than some early chapbook that many people threw out after reading.
 

HenryChinaski

Founding member
Within the next week, I'll be searching for a good copy of Crucifix to buy. I'm not looking to spend a lot, I just want a nice reading copy that I can keep for the collection. I'm not a picky collector and can't reallly afford an expensive copy. I remember Cirerita saying that he had one to sell for around the $200/300 area. This is really what I'm looking for. More along the lines of $200 though. or even less if I can find a nice copy for it. but, its like they say, you get what you pay for.
 
The value of a book (or anything for that matter) is entirely dependent upon the market, i.e. what people are willing to pay for the item. Print run is a factor in price determination, as well as in designating something as "rare," but it is not the only factor. And keep in mind, also, that maybe there were intially 3100 printed--how many are still around and in tact? And of these, how many are for sale? These may be reasons while Crucifix can be called "rare."

A friend of mine who deals in used and rare books stumbled across a gorgeous 1st edition, 1st printing, 1st state, of To Kill a Mockingbird for a dollar at a library sale. He just recently sold it for 15,000 USD to another rare book dealer. I'm sure this book had a larger print run than Crucifix, but is very hard to come by in fine or near fine shape.

When examining the price of a book, be careful. I would advise checking, in addition to ebay, www.abebooks.com, which is the leading used book site. If there are relatively few listings at abe, www.addall.com is a sort of meta-search that will search several used book search engines.

That said, many years ago, when I used to sell used and rare books, I would never tire of hearing people complain about pricing methods, and those who thought they knew more than people that had been in the industry for decades.

This reminds me of another story. Another friend of mine, at my request, was on the lookout for obscure August Strindberg titles at thrift stores. When she found a copy of The Red Room in somewhat beat up shape, I elected not to buy it from her. She sold it about a month later for 600 USD, after having bought it for 85 cents.
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
All true, but for the fact that "To Kill A Mockingbird" is considered a modern classic along the lines of Hemingway, with a much wider audience than Bukowski has. Nearly EVERYONE, I believe has read "To Kill A Mockingbird" as a requirement for high School English class. I like Bukowski better, but to compare the value of a first edition of these two books is a stretch. To Kill had a first print run of 5000. I would bet that many of the copies that were bought in 1960 were read and discarded, or read and the dustjacket severly damaged and then sold at a yard sale. Remember, in 1965, Bukowski's Crucifix sold for $7.50, which is about $42 in today's dollars. This was not a book that would have been bought, read and discarded. "To Kill" was published in 1960 at $3.95, or $26.39 in today's dollars.

I would bet that there are far more copies in circulation of the Buk book than the Lee book, even though the Lee book had 1900 more copies printed.

As far as not buying books without doing research, I cannot agree more. I have seen people buy books on ebay for the price that they could have 5 copies in better condition. It seems that for many people, they assume that ebay auctions set the price and if it goes to $1000 for a copy of a $200 book, then that must be the price, not realizing that they could have bought a copy on abe and pocketed the extra $800 that they just threw out the window. I always look on abe and see what I would pay for a book if I ordered it online before deciding what I will pay on ebay. With ebay, and especially lately, you should always pay less for almost any book that you see also is listed on abe. Of course, if there are no copies available, it can be hard to judge. That can be a time where a book that sells on ebay can vary wildly. There are always things that will make one copy stand out above others. If I was selling a copy of "It Catches" on ebay and it was inscribed by Buk to Jon Webb, I could probably name my price. It would not matter that you can get a signed copy for $200 on abe. Mine would not be anything close to those books.

Best,
Bill

p.s. There are exactly 29 copies of Crucifix available for sale right now on abe. All are first edition/first printing and are signed by the author and dated. There are probably only 5 or 6 first edition/first printing of To Kill A Mockingbird, but it is hard to tell as many people over "rarify" their book by failing to mention if a first edition is also a first printing, which would change the price dramatically.

p.p.s. Sorry for this long, rambling post about rare books and prices. I know that some of the people on the forum are not collectors, just fans of the writing. My obsession is one that I share with at least a few others on this forum, though....
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
p.p.s. Sorry for this long, rambling post about rare books and prices. I know that some of the people on the forum are not collectors, just fans of the writing. My obsession is one that I share with at least a few others on this forum, though....

Don't be sorry, Bill! I, for one, appreciate all the info I can get about rare books and prices, since I'm still waiting to buy my first signed Buk book and the rare book market is a bit of a jungle. Especially for a newbie...
 
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mjp

Founding member
Print run is a factor in price determination, as well as in designating something as "rare," but it is not the only factor. And keep in mind, also, that maybe there were intially 3100 printed--how many are still around and in tact? And of these, how many are for sale? These may be reasons while Crucifix can be called "rare."
On what planet is anything that is easy to find and inexpensive to buy rare? Anyone who wants Crucifix can get it. I could have 20 copies on the table in front of me in a week. That is not rare. If by some bookseller's definition that is rare, booksellers need to change their definitions.

Booksellers, after all, are the group that came up with the definitions that will let me drop a book in the mud, run it over with a car, wipe it off with a rag and describe the condition as "good" because it can still be read.

That said, many years ago, when I used to sell used and rare books, I would never tire of hearing people complain about pricing methods, and those who thought they knew more than people that had been in the industry for decades.
Such smug superiority must be a terrible burden.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
On what planet is anything that is easy to find and inexpensive to buy rare? Anyone who wants Crucifix can get it. I could have 20 copies on the table in front of me in a week. That is not rare. If by some bookseller's definition that is rare, booksellers need to change their definitions.

Booksellers, after all, are the group that came up with the definitions that will let me drop a book in the mud, run it over with a car, wipe it off with a rag and describe the condition as "good" because it can still be read.

Exactly! You can buy a copy of Crucifix any time at Abebooks. It seems like some booksellers have another definition of rare than most people have...
 
... the group that came up with the definitions that will let me drop a book in the mud, run it over with a car, wipe it off with a rag and describe the condition as "good"

You're so right! And again you find the words, that even allow to smile about sad facts.
Of course, if you leave only the "mud"-thing you could even claim the book to be "mint with slight edge wear".
And if you leave the mudding in, but take the wiping-off away, you could sell as "antique" probably.
 
On what planet is anything that is easy to find and inexpensive to buy rare? Anyone who wants Crucifix can get it. I could have 20 copies on the table in front of me in a week. That is not rare. If by some bookseller's definition that is rare, booksellers need to change their definitions.

Booksellers, after all, are the group that came up with the definitions that will let me drop a book in the mud, run it over with a car, wipe it off with a rag and describe the condition as "good" because it can still be read.

Such smug superiority must be a terrible burden.

You're a complete and utter asshole. And not just an asshole--but an IGNORANT asshole. I could have 20 copies of To Kill a Mockingbird here too, but it'd cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars. Seeing as though there are only 28 copies of Crucifix listed at ABE, and they start at 175, with an average price of roughly 400, I might call that rare. Yes, to use your words, it is "easy to find," but I think 400 USD is not at all "inexpensive" for a slim volume of poetry.

It's nice that you can tell the whole used book industry how to run its business. Pray tell--what do you do for a living sir, so I can hand you a pile of bullshit?

The example of dropping the book in the mud would result in a condition not at all good. There are sort of industry standards on how to describe condition. If you do a simple search I think you'll find plenty of examples on the web. It should be "easy to find" and "inexpensive."
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
Yes, to use your words, it is "easy to find," but I think 400 USD is not at all "inexpensive" for a slim volume of poetry.

Hi,
It should be noted that "crucifix" is only the second Bukowski book that cannot be called a "slim volume of poetry". The first being "It Catches", also published by LouJon. Before that time, they were all chapbooks that were stapled and were indeed, very slim. At 101 pages, Crucifix is not a slim volume/ It is printed letterpress on very, very high quality Lineweave Spectra deckle edge paper. There are also tissue guards protecting the illustrations, which are engravings, I believe. Also, the size of the book is about 8" x 12". They also used multi-colored deckle edged paper at the beginning and end, incluiding some sort of rice paper guarding the signature.

This book was a MASSIVE undertaking in 1965 and would be no easier to pull off today. I have the same press that they used to print this book (A Chandler & Price 8x12) and can tell you that this is a MASSIVE undertaking for a beautifully made art book of poetry.

If I was to print a book of Bukowski's TODAY and used all of the paper and methods that they used, I would probably have to charge well over their $43 (in today's dollars), and would probably have to charge about what you see as the low price for a copy of this book. Even so, my house it probably 4 times larger than the bungalow that the Webbs printed "crucifix" in and I would not kow where I would store 101 stacks of 3100 pages (plus overrun copies)., the mass of paper, at the end of the production would have been about 350,000 pages.

It is an amazingly beautiful production. The Harper Lee book, or any other first edition CLASSIC is valuable mainly because it is RARE (few fine surviving copies with DJ) and it is the first edition, which is desirable (and because many more people want it than fine copies are available). Otherwise, they are not always produced so lovingly and are not as well made. Many are mass market hardcovers like you would find today in any chain bookstore. Look at the first editions of Michael Shaara's Killer Angels. That was very, very poorly made, yet sells for thousands. Why? Because more people want a copy that there are copies available...

Crucifix is certainly worth more than $175 and probably worth more than $400. If the Webbs had only made 200 copies of this book, you would pay thousands. The fact that they made 3100 copies is the reason that this is affordable (on rare book terms).

All best,
Bill
 

mjp

Founding member
You're a complete and utter asshole. And not just an asshole--but an IGNORANT asshole.
Well, that didn't take long. I thought you might try to hide your disdain for the commoners for at least a little while.

I didn't suggest that there was not an "industry standard" for a description of "good," what I suggested was that booksellers have taken a word with positive connotations and use it to describe very marginal material. If you're suggesting that all booksellers are incorruptible bastions of truth, sobriety and honesty, you are crazier than you seem. And I have to tell you, you already seem pretty crazy.
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
"rare" doesn't mean "expensive." come on. a lot of factors contribute to a book's price more than its relative scarcity. bill's original point was that any signed black sparrow edition of a bukowski book is usually about 10x as rare as crucifix, and many sell for around the same average price (or less). there was a signed prospectus for roominghouse madrigals that sold on ebay for under $70 (not to me, goddammit)- i'd say that this was at least 100x as rare as crucifix. this doesn't mean that crucifix is overpriced, but come on- it's not that rare. i think MJP's point was that you could take a no-limit credit card and stock your bookshelf with copies of crucifix by next week. but try to do that with the roominghouse prospectus i just mentioned, and you couldn't. why? because one is RARE and the other is not.
 

mjp

Founding member
Is it just me, or do some booksellers remind you of the people behind the counter at an expensive coffeehouse who chuckle condescendingly when you don't pronounce their invented words properly?

Such important vocations, bookseller and coffee brewer. Such secrets of the universe they possess. We are fortunate to be able to dwell, even briefly, in their rarified presence.
 

ROC

It is what it is
If I was to print a book of Bukowski's TODAY and used all of the paper and methods that they used, I would probably have to charge well over their $43 (in today's dollars), and would probably have to charge about what you see as the low price for a copy of this book.

What the hell are you waiting for man?!
Get to work!

I'll pre-order one right now.

Don't make me beg.
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
What the hell are you waiting for man?!
Get to work!

I'll pre-order one right now.

Don't make me beg.


As crazy as I am, I would take on this project in a second. Of course, I would need the Buk material first....

Nope, I would not hold my breath for this one.


Bill
 
Is it just me, or do some booksellers remind you of the people behind the counter at an expensive coffeehouse who chuckle condescendingly when you don't pronounce their invented words properly?

Such important vocations, bookseller and coffee brewer. Such secrets of the universe they possess. We are fortunate to be able to dwell, even briefly, in their rarified presence.
Yes, _some_ are like that. Maybe even most. But I've met numerous honest, decent people in the book business and to presume they are all out to rip people off or present false information is ridiculous.
 

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