Strange Places, Awesome Finds

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Strange Places, Awesome Finds

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Dez 15, 2006, 1:19 pm

I'd like to hear about the strange places people find and collect books from. I'll give an example.

About a year ago I noticed while walking through a Crate & Barrel that they had a lot of books on their shelves. I'm talking real books, not cardboard things. One of them caught my eye and when I looked closer I was suprised to find the Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. I took it off the shelf, opened it, and found that it was a 1st edition! It was in really good shape and even had the original map still inside the back cover. I immediately went to the manager and asked if I could buy it from him. He was so nice he gave it to me for free! I doubt he even knew what it was.

At another C&B months later I noticed some nice editions of Britannica Great Books of the Western World. I looked around the store and found that they had about 1/3 of the 54 book series. It was also the first edition published in 1952! It took some work but I managed to talk the store out of those too.

Seems C&B buys out used book stores, throws away the paperbacks, strips the dust jackets off the hard covers, organizes them by color, and places them out on their floor to add character. It's like a hidden treasure trove of books if you take the time to look.

Well, that was long, but does anyone have a similar experience? I find I'm always looking at the books on the shelves in stores whenever I'm out these days and I'd like to know if anyone else does that.

Dez 15, 2006, 1:24 pm

There was a New York Times article describing exactly what your talking about. Stores putting books out to give the right mood. And yes apparently most will sell you the books to.

Dez 15, 2006, 9:05 pm

I've bought hardbacks at the library for fifty cents a piece. So far I've found books by Amy Bloom, A.L. Kennedy, Harry Crews, Joyce Carol Oates...

Dez 16, 2006, 12:56 am

Gosh, I didn't know that other people went around buying the books on display in stores that don't sell books. I can't wait to tell some of the people who have been embarrassed by my bizarre behavior. :-)

I've found 1st editions, in perfect condition, with perfect dust jackets, at library sales. I bought a valuable one (I'd been looking for ANY copy of the book for a long time) for $1 at one sale, and found a signed Brother Cadfael for $2 at another. I figure relatives must be getting rid of books when people die - - - and the former owners must be spinning in their graves.

Dez 17, 2006, 8:38 am

>1 natantus:

He was so nice he gave it to me for free! I doubt he even knew what it was.

And you took care not to tell him, did you ?

Dez 17, 2006, 11:09 am

This isn't exactly the same thing, but whenever I come across a used or remaindered copy of a book by one of my favourite authors, I'll check and see if it's been signed. This sounds like an extremely strange thing to do, I know, and I've only found two books in six or seven years of doing this... but two books is still a lot more than I'd have expected to find! I figure I'll encounter some others eventually.

Dez 18, 2006, 7:38 pm

Yesterday I was able to procure another great book from Crate & Barrel. It's difficult to talk the managers into selling a book, but totally worth it. I find during the holiday season they're a lot more open to this kind of request. I picked up a 1940 edition of "The Enlarged and Revised Outline of History Being a Plain History of Life and Mankind Complete in One Volume" by H.G. Wells. It's in pretty good condition, although the binding is pretty loose. I've actually paged through it and it looks like a fascinating read.

They also had the “Harvard Classics Complete Set 1909/1910 Maroon With Lectures 51 Volumes (Harvard Classics warmly cared, Volume 1 through Volume 50 and included 1914 Lectures Series)”. Since it has so many books in the collection I didn't even bother asking about them. That's for another day.

Dez 20, 2006, 1:29 pm

My favorite place to find books are the book swapping shelves at bed and breakfasts, hotels, and rental houses. There have been a couple of places with little signs saying that the books are for sale -- I avoid those. I mean the ones where they collect up the books that other guests have left behind and encourage you to take what you want to read. Sometimes they also encourage you to leave behind your finished books. And sometimes I do. But I confess to taking more than I leave.

Two of myy favorite finds have been:

Volume 2 of A Dance to the Music of Time which introduced me to Anthony Powell and the whole series. I found that at Le Sirenus in Positano when on my honeymoon.

A nice hardback edition of The Jeweler’s Eye by William F. Buckley that I found at a bed and breakfast in Trinidad, California this fall.

Half the pleasure comes from the memories of the trips. These found books are also souvenirs.

9incunabulum Primeira Mensagem
Fev 11, 2007, 3:09 am

Per natantus' original post, I'm always on the prowl in any store I visit. I was at one furniture store near the Chautauqua Institute, at Lake Chautauqua, NY...and they gave me the book I noted an interest in...but later I was in a Levin Furniture store in Monroeville, Pa., and they refused to sell me one of their display books.

My current favourite place to pick up books is Paradox Books, at the Centre Market plaza in Wheeling, WV. I drive to Wheeling for work daily, and on about a weekly basis my lunchtime strolls take me by either Paradox Books (a smokey little bookshop run by a local theatre actor/playwright) or the free books table they maintain in the adjacent Centre Market market building.

In keeping with the former (and thankfully fading) prevalent business in that part of town (South Wheeling, south of the Wheeling Creek), Paradox has an historical display/sale rack covering the past 30 years of Playboys...but they also have a great music/theatre section, good selection of older sci-fi paperbacks, and much American and Ohio Valley historical non-fiction (as well as the usual smattering of romance, business and novel-based fiction).

Mar 1, 2007, 2:05 am

In my college days, I lived at the library. (As opposed to now, I only visit regularly.) The head librarian and I became pretty good friends. I would stop by when I had free time and help them out. (Our college had purchased 150,000+ volumes from another school that closed it's doors... we were always cataloging and filing books.)

I was at the library so often he used to let me go in 2 or 3 days before the used book sales would start and cherry pick the best ones. Then he'd loan me boxes and a handcart to get them all back to my room. (It rarely took more than 2 trips, but my roommates still thought I was insane.) The best part was when the sales were over, he let me have whatever I wanted for free!

Mar 1, 2007, 9:42 am

#1 My husband worked a part-time job at a local children's home that had a thrift store. When people donated things, they sometimes allowed the employees to go through and choose things before they went to the thrift store. Knowing how I love books, he was always on the look out. One day, I was astounded when he came in with the complete set of the Great Books of the Western World! He also brought a signed copy of a Bob Timberlake book with some of my favorite prints.

Mar 1, 2007, 11:40 am

I love finding books at the flea market. I have found some nice hard covers but I love the boxes where you get 5 for $1.00 on paperbacks. My hubby wanders around the market and later finds me still rumaging through boxes of books. Some may not be in the best shape, so you can get them for .10, but they are still readable. One lady at the local flea market here, will let me bring books back to her, and pick new ones to read. I can't wait for the weather to be nicer and I can start prowling through those boxes.

Mar 1, 2007, 10:39 pm

#11 - That's just amazing! I really wish I'd stumble on a great find like that. I did manage to find another 3 of the Great Books at thee local Crate and Barrel. It was hard convincing them to give them to me, guess they have new management now. I swear they're holding out and have the rest in the back room:P

Maio 4, 2007, 1:01 am

I was at a book sale and volunteering there. A woman bought a children's book and I noticed it was by Kurt Vonnegut, illustrated by Maurice Sendak and an autographed copy! I made a remark about this fact and then I waited while she agonized over whether to buy it. All the books at the sale were donated and that book cost her fifty cents.
I should have just grabbed it and ran!

Maio 15, 2007, 10:11 pm

Do freebies qualify?

I taught math for a few years at a Catholic high school after "retiring" from the public schools. When they moved the elementary school (and its library) into the high school building, they had to cull their collection. As I was leaving one afternoon, I saw cardboard boxes marked "Discard" in the hall outside the library. Upon inquiry, I found they were leaving them there to be carried away by the custodian and thrown in the dumpster!!

I was appalled--as I think every bookaholic would be-- that no notice had been given, no opportunity afforded to teachers or students to rescue these unwanted tomes. A-A-AGH!

I further inquired whether I could take any of them. Sure, I was told, but I had to take them THAT DAY! I took four boxes out to my car (no custodian, just little old me). Over the next couple of days I got another four or five.

The most significant find was the 11 volume set The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant. It looked as if it had never been opened!

That was nearly two years ago, and there are still a couple of boxes I haven't shelved yet.

Maio 31, 2007, 10:21 am

estate sales. garage sales, for sure, but people who sell their own stuff at garage sales tend to not seel books they cherish, wheras with estate sales, the surviving family members usually hire an agent to sell everything in the house. I can't come up with any titles i've snagged for a buck apiece, but i highly recommend taking a few moments to wade through the next estate sale you see.

Jun 15, 2007, 9:26 pm

i found a quarto-sized shakespeare folio with hand-drawn art printed in 1890 at an estate sale. it was only one of three items hidden at the bottom of a closet in a bedroom. Sold to me for $20. Sold it years (decades) later for $2000.00. a 100 to 1 profit is always good.

Jul 10, 2007, 7:23 pm

In 1982 my small elementary school closed its doors and I went to the book sale they were holding (it had been 14 years since I had attended the school). I bought Anne of Green Gables, August 1960 edition, (original price $2.50) - most likely the copy I had read when I was about 10 years old! I still have it - and it has its original plastic cover with a spine sticker saying FIC-MONT. The inside cover has the stamp from my old school.

Jul 17, 2007, 11:34 am

I spoke to a used book store owner in Atlanta who said they frequently sell books by the yard to interior designers. Apparently they get used to stage model homes/apartments and even decorate people's homes. It's hard for me to fathom someone not wanting to pick their own books, but go figure. When units or developments are rented up or sold a lot of these books get pitched. They would sometimes pick them back up from the dumpster and sell them again.

Ago 3, 2007, 3:02 pm

A county fair near me has a huge booksale. I have not been able to visit it yet, but I'm planning on going this year. Other than that my book sources aren't all that unusual: library booksales and thrift stores mostly.

Set 20, 2007, 12:44 pm

My small country library, as opposed to the larger city library, has a running book sale in a small back room. I don't really look at condition, since most of their books have the DDS tabs on them, and are sealed in these infernal clear plastic covers, but I always find something in there!

Editado: Set 20, 2007, 8:36 pm

I've found some AMAZING stuff. One time I went to a used bookstore that was closing and got 5 bags!

When I was younger my grandpa had to move out of his house due to eminent domain. he had lived there for 50+ years and like the rest of that side of my family, he is a packrat! For months we waded through all the junk and took what we wanted and he didn't. I found books that my mom owned as a child, as well as Webster's Collegiate Dictionary: Fifth Edition from 1936, An encyclopedia of world history from 1940, The Standard Dictionary of Facts from 1923, and Elson's Music Dictionary from 1920.

Set 20, 2007, 8:50 pm

Oh! I forgot that just last weekend I went to an AMAZING book sale. I picked up two bags of books, including Hoyt's New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations from 1940, Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature, The Oxford Companion to American Literature from 1956, Bernstein's reverse dictionary, The Modern Word-Finder from 1934, Sisson's Word and Expression Locater from the 60s, an anthology called Modern English Prose from 1919, and THE MAKING OF THE MODERN MIND: A SURVEY OF THE INTELLECTUAL BACKGROUND OF THE PRESENT AGE from 1940. it makes me giddy just to think about it.
And yes, I do have the Durants' 11-volume set. Imagine, all this at 17, what will I be like as an old man?

Set 20, 2007, 10:58 pm

#23> you are certainly up to a good start!! Keep it up, young man!!!

Set 20, 2007, 11:00 pm

>24 aluvalibri:
Thank you. ;-) My mom can only hope that I stop. But she has no reason to criticize my book collecting; she's an English professor! That doesn't stop her from thinking I am crazy.

Set 20, 2007, 11:04 pm

No, you are not crazy, not in the least!
I read your profile and was quite impressed; it is nice to see people as young as you are and already so well read and interested in things about which, let's face it, most teenagers have absolutely no clue. So, as I already said, keep it up!

Set 20, 2007, 11:15 pm

You know, reading these posts made me think back about eight years when my famliy moved from my childhood home. My mother had BOXES GALORE stored up in the attic. Along with an extremely large children's book collection strewn through the house. She told me to take what I wanted from the children's books, but I was moving soon, so I couldn't take too many. And I NEVER bothered to look in the attic boxes. She gave them away to a local school that had only been open a couple of years and needed books. I wonder what I missed?

Editado: Set 20, 2007, 11:22 pm

OOOOH! I just thought of a weird place I found books! A family member of a family member had bought a house/property and was renovating. There was a large building on the back of the property that had been used as a school. When the people left, they left behind all sorts of things including clothes, furniture, and of course......BOOKS! I found workbooks, text books, storybooks, and I am the big book person in the family so I got a ton of them!

Out 14, 2007, 2:31 pm

Yesterday I went to an event called Garibaldi Fest in Belmont, NC at the local park. People had booths for all sorts of organizations and businesses. One booth was selling children's books. I asked and found that they had only four books for adults. I bought Tyrannosaurus Sue.

Out 14, 2007, 4:59 pm

Library score! I just bought a bunch of old Beverly Cleary Ramona books, $0.50 each!

Out 16, 2007, 3:53 am

On Sunday I bought 80 books at a library sale for $15 - all kinds of wonderful old textbooks (I have a fetish for these) with GREAT smells, a 10-volume set called Gateway to the Great Books, some really cool old reference works.

Fev 26, 2008, 7:13 pm

There's a literacy organization in a nearby town that has a freebie box in the hall of a community centre - take or donate, your choice. In the past month I've found Jessamy by Barbara Sleigh, and a children's book in Italian - Ernesto Fa Da Sè - and when one of the volunteers walked by and saw me looking, she begged me to take more books - she showed me a bookshelf full. There I found Strange Things by John Lorne Campbell - I'd been wanting to read it but it's such an uncommon book I'd thought I would never see a copy.

Mar 9, 2008, 3:37 pm

My wife and I have a house in beautiful, rural Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, California. We stopped by the retail fruit stand at Gowan's Apple Orchard yesterday to pick up some apples and low and behold, there was a small box of free books! I picked up great old paperback editions of Wilderness Trek (Pocket Books) by Zane Grey and Auntie Mame (Popular Liberary) by Patrick Dennis.

Mar 13, 2008, 4:34 pm

My partner came home one day with a carrier bag full of paperbacks which he said he found in the street. I looked through it and there were some good books there. When I grilled him about where he found it I realised that he had found them outside a charity shop (goodwill store). He had never noticed this shop before because the shutters were always down when he passed.
I did keep a few but I took the ones I didn't want to the shop (when it was open....) along with a few more for good measure.

Mar 13, 2008, 6:48 pm

#33 -- I am jealous! Both that you found a box of free books at Gowan's and that you live in one of my favorite parts of California! My hubby and I have enjoyed trekking through your neck of the woods several times -- Gowan's, the taco truck in Booneville, and Husch Winery are our favorite stops (although I never found books at Gowan's).

Mar 14, 2008, 2:17 pm

#35 -- You're right, Anderson Valley is a beautiful spot, indeed. Right now my wife and I are splitting time between Boonville and SF. Sadly, I must report that, at least for now, the taco truck has ceased operations. But I am munching on a Gowan's apple right now, and Husch is still going strong. If you ever get back through Anderson Valley, do let me know beforehand. It would be fun to hook up!

Jun 28, 2008, 1:26 am

I once found two signed first editions of travel books by Richard Halliburton in a free pile on the street. Our local recycling center has a free shelf for books so that they don't end up in the landfill, and I have found all sorts of treasures there.

Jun 28, 2008, 2:57 am

When I was a teen, we moved into an apartment that was the upstairs of a house. We had access to the attic and I found some wonderful old books that had belonged to the house's previous owner (not our landlord/lady). He was a medical student at Johns Hopkins in the 1930s and I found a couple of old letters, as well as a couple of French texts (with marginalia) and Hill's Manual of Social and Business Forms, from about 1881, a book I've long treasured. It has everything from business and social letters to battles of the late Civil War, poetry excerpts, and the language of flowers.

Yes, okay, technically they weren't my books to take. But I'm pretty sure the landlord/lady didn't care at all about books, and I've got 'em. So there.

Fev 25, 2010, 7:45 am

I once went to Starbucks and saw a bin of books. A little sign on the wall said "Give a book, take a book."
I hadn't ever seen it before, so I hadn't brought an unwanted book. However, I couldn't help going through it - and found Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut, an older copy, hardback and with the dustjacket, though not in the greatest of condition.
I love Vonnegut but have still never seen that particular book in any used bookstores.
I had only brought 5 dollars with me and had spent it all on a peppermint mocha, so I asked the girl if I could trade her my miniature wallet for the book.
She looked at me like I was crazy, but once she saw that it was Juicy Couture, she hastily agreed. (Little did she know that I'd gotten the couture from a thrift shop down the road!).
She also encouraged me to take a few more books, looking as if she'd just won the lottery.

I never saw the book bin at any other Starbucks again. But it was neat finding it that one time because I completely hadn't expected it.

Mar 27, 2010, 1:15 am

I was once in a restaurant that was using old books and found objects as decorative materials. I found a beautiful slip-cased copy of Little Women from the early twentieth century and tried to get the manager to sell it to me. He was amused and ended up giving me the book. It also had lovely color plate illustrations. This was an especially sentimental find as it was identical to a copy that had been passed down in my family and was carelessly lent to a person who never returned it. It was the prodigal book!

#1, I loved your story about Crate and Barrel so much that I determined to go asap to my local and see what I could find - but there aren't any in my state, but I will be on the look-out when traveling.

Librattyteen - I love your name. And I too have the Durant, but I had to pay real money for my set. Please keep reading - bookaholics and bibliophiles are becoming an endangered species.

Abr 8, 2010, 12:20 pm

The most surprising place I've acquired a great book was at a J.C. Penney department store about fifteen years ago. While wandering through the men's clothing section, I noticed a necktie draped over a few books. One of them was an 1886 leather-bound edition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and An Inland Voyage. I took it to the nearest sales clerk and offered to buy the book or replace it with several similar looking books. The offer wasn't successful, as I was told the books were just props provided by their decorator.

The manager conveniently happened by and was pulled into the negotiation. After explaining my desire to purchase or trade for the book, she called their decorator at home. I couldn't hear the other side of the conversation, but I've always imagined it went something like, "Just give the crazy guy the book and maybe he'll go away." It worked, and the book's been safe from neckties in my library ever since.