Thursday, February 02, 2006

Max shops for books

I learned an important lesson today about shopping for books that I want to share in case anyone else looks for hard-to-find books. Here is the whole story.

It started in a book shop in London with Jono. We were looking at children’s books so he could get ideas for a christening gift. I went in search of nursery rhymes and found beautiful books filled with coloured illustrations, but I immediately thought of my book of nursery rhymes that my aunt had bought for me when I was a baby, which I consider the definitive collection. It is Marguerite De Angeli’s Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes. I decided to look for it on Amazon.

The book was first published in 1954 and it is now out of print, but Amazon US was offering it used through private sellers. I found a 1954 hardcover first edition in “very good” condition for $7.50 + shipping. I thought it was an impossible bargain, but it is now on its way to my new niece in Oregon. I was talking about it last night with friends and mentioned that I would have happily paid $50 for a first edition of that book.

Today, while searching for other books that are hard to find in the US, I looked at Barnes & Noble online and found other hardcover first editions of the nursery rhyme book with prices ranging from $13.60 to $61.95. Then, while looking for an image, I found a 1955 edition, identical to the one I have, for $35.

The other books I was looking for today are for Mike the barman. They are Redemption Song: The Authorised Biography of Joe Strummer by Chris Salewicz and 2stoned by Andrew Loog Oldham. Both are available on Amazon UK, but I wanted to find them in the US because I will be there to pick them up in a few weeks’ time.

I found Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer (same book, slightly different title), but Amazon US says it has not yet been released and they give no further information. 2stoned is not even listed on Amazon US.

I decided to look at Barnes & Noble. They have one used copy of Redemption Song: The Authorised Biography, it is in “good” condition and it is being offered for $1,100. No joke - $1,100. On Amazon UK, you can get the book new for £13.20. If you were in the US, you would have to pay shipping from the UK, which would not be cheap, but the entire cost would still be about $1,065 less than buying the book through Barnes & Noble.

Now, I would like to think that someone in The America who is considering paying $1,100 for a used book would have the sense to look elsewhere, including bookshops outside of The America, but you never know.
Shop around.

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