Travel Blog (Las Vegas Adventure Part 4)

For you writers and bibliophiles, one travel tip I do have is if you are ever in Las Vegas, one of the top rare book stores in the country happens to be in the Shops at the Venetian.

Yes. A casino doubles as a home to a rare book store.

I present to you, Bauman’s Rare Books. 

Retail markups are alive and kicking here. You can buy a first edition, second issue of The Sun Also Rises for a cool $13,500. 

Are you a Truman Capote fan? You can buy both of his classics if you don’t mind parting with a some cash.

The store is one of the rare places that you can actually pick up and touch a $30,000 book, under supervision of course. They have a ton of books going back a few hundred years, along with modern classics. The newer the book is, the more likely it needs an autograph or inscription to get a place on their shelf.

Are there any James Bond fans here? Despite being a pretty bombastic movie with a nonsensical plot, the first edition of Moonraker commands $12,000.

The Grapes of Wrath is a novel that is required reading in many high school curriculums. True story, as a final project I turned in a children story of the Grapes of Wrath, complete with the shocking “suckling” ending. Who knew people in the depression could have simply scooped up copies of this book and given their grandkids a nice inheritance. 
And finally, we have The Stand and Dune. The Stand is autographed by  Stephen King back in 1983 I think. Sometimes personal inscriptions are worth more due to the relationship. Dune is my favorite Sci-Fi novel of all time (Read it 3 times). In some fantasy dream land I will find this book for $1 at a Goodwill and do 3 victory laps, but until then I can only look and be envious since I don’t have $9,000 to spend. 

If you are ever in Vegas and like book collecting, Bauman’s Rare Books is a must.

Thrift Treasures (The Annie Hall Score)

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I want to start with full disclosure. This is a combination of trips to Goodwill and actually happened in between the Tom Clancy and Bo Jackson score this week. I was going to write this blog but got excited with the Bo Jackson find that I wanted to share that first.

So on my trip to San Angelo, I visited a few of their stores. The prices were generally good, around a quarter to 50 cents for each book. This is much better than the 99 cents to 1.99 that San Antonio stores have tried to charge (prices fluctuate). I’m not sure if it helps with profit margins as anything of value is usually picked relatively fast. In any case, I picked up a bunch of books (maybe around 30, some will be blogged about in the future). I found a first edition of Confederacy of Dunces, however it was like a 10th printing and ex-library book (might be worth $30 on ebay). For 50 cents, I thought it was worth it to find a hardcover version. Maybe I’ll spot a first edition, first printing in the future, who knows. I picked up a Stephen King novel I didn’t now already for 50 cents. Despite the disappointment, I figured a buck for Harper Lee’s second book was worth a shot.

Along in the batch, I picked up a pretty decent score of older science fiction paperbacks that I want to share, but I need to do some research first. I still buy everything on a hunch and try not to spend time on documenting what I have, outside things I suspect are of value (autographs and rare first editions). So I don’t focus too much on that old DAW paperback first edition bought for a quarter and can be flipped for $15 on ebay. Just not my style. I am open to trades, but for now, I just buy what I like and recognize as value from a decade of researching.

So that brings me to the Annie Hall score. Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 10.37.18 PM.png

Right inside the jacket was this sticker and her autograph. I guess a couple years ago she attended this event, here in San Antonio and signed a ton of books (according to the news, the event raised $400K). This is what you would call 100% authentic. There was news coverage. There is the date stamped. Her name is on a sticker where she spoke as protestors screamed outside. Then the signature matches. Pretty cool find I think. Annie Hall was a good movie. The Godfather is a masterpiece. On ebay right now, this goes on average between $35-60.

Thrift Treasures (The Bo Jackson Score)

I stopped by a Goodwill on the way home Monday and found something after 15 minutes. The store was a hot mess, but to me, this is where pickings are better; nobody knows what is going on there.


This is the typical scene at this particular store. It is one of the worst ones for books. I rarely go in because they churn through so much (located next to a Burlington). So it was here I found an oldie but a goodie for those NFL fans of the late 1980s. Bo Jackson the duel threat phenom before he blew out his knee. IMG_9477.JPG

The only other thing I picked up was a first edition Stephen King book, Bag of Bones. There was nothing special about it other than I collect Stephen King Books. Unfortunately, since I collect all on memory now instead of stressing out with an inventory sheet, I found out I already had this book in first edition. On well, minus 99 cents unless I find someone else who likes him. IMG_9482.JPG

I combined this score with two other books I bought the previous weekend at a random quick stop. I found a pretty pristine copy of Sphere by Michael Crichton, a first edition, one of my favorite novels of all time (the movie was horrendous). I had found 4 BCE in the past, so this one stuck out to me from a quick scan. Can you see the difference? The real first edition has the reflective metallic details in the lettering. All I had to do was wipe off a few scuff marks (Like some random leaf or something in the O) and it looked like it came from the book launch. Believe it or not, a first edition Sphere runs around $45. All an all, another solid 1.99 purchase (a higher end thrift shop … grrr) IMG_9530.jpeg

The last book of my was a first edition of Legends. This is pretty much mandatory in every fantasy collector’s shelf. Just look at the authors. You’ve already seen Anne McCaffrey from my first autograph score. I have a Stephen King score from 12 years ago I can show if I ever hit a dry spell. IMG_9483.JPG

The back of the novel is just as loaded (with Terry Pratchett, Orson Scott Card, Robert Silverberg, Ursula K Le Guin, and George R. R. Martin). As a huge fan of a bunch of these authors, getting a first edition of this was huge. The novel debuts “The Hedge Knight” which is the first side story he published, showing Dunk and Egg and their adventures. So far, I have yet to find a first edition of A Game of Thrones or A Clash of Kings, the only two books before this (I do have a first edition of Tuf Voyaging). It is funny to note he wrote a Dance with Dragons was forthcoming, instead of a Storm of Swords that came next. In any case, the novel is cool to have, notwithstanding it is worth $25-$30 despite being a $1 purchase at the thrift store.

As for the Bo Jackson Book? I did it again. Call me the autograph whisperer, but I seemed to have crafted a process to find autographed books at garage sales and thrift shops left and right.The Heisman winner still commands a fanbase and charges around $100 per autograph at conventions. On ebay, this book when signed goes between $39.99 and $60. So it was a pretty good score for 99 cents. Below is the picture of the autograph as I was standing in the middle of the shop looking like a fool.



J.K. Rowling’s Rejection Letters


In the news today, it was reported that J.K. Rowling shared her rejection experiences on twitter. For many writers, rejection is part of the business, much like other creative industries like the performing arts. Harry Potter was famously rejected by 9 publishers and countless agents, but Rowling kept pursuing her dream, despite being flat broke. Simply put, getting noticed as a new author for a publisher to take you on is very hard.

According to The Independent, Bloomsbury was just about the last stop for the submission. The Chairman didn’t even read the sample chapters, but instead gave it to his 8 year old daughter who loved it. He ordered 500 copies to be printed, really thinking nothing of it. The rest is history. J.K. Rowling is now one of the most successful authors in history.

What she shared today makes writers relate to her more. Rejection is a tough thing and for no-name authors, sometimes the degree of rejection ranges from the respectful to the downright arrogant. The first agent aka AGENT-WITH-HAUNTING-COLD-SWEAT-MUGGLE-NIGHTMARES-EVERYTIME-THEY-READ-A-HARRY-POTTER-REFERENCE, couldn’t kindly rejected but had to comment that J.K.Rowling even messed up the folder she sent.

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But this isn’t what made the twitter posts so awesome today. I had heard of the Robert Galbraith pseudonym and recently saw the news of her attending a readers group to praise the author. I find this hilarious on so many levels. I only wish she did it in disguise and asked thought provoking questions on it and debated the readers. Unfortunately, the Orkney Library invited the author, so they were hoping she would attend the event.

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What made her post so awesome today were the two rejection letters she posted. I’ve seen rejection letters, both personally and by other authors. What got my attention was that despite being one of the biggest selling authors of this generation, she queried publishers as Robert Galbraith and got rejected. I know Stephen King published as Richard Bachman, but I wonder if he queried under his pseudonym as well. If so, we all would like to see, if nothing else to relate to the author better.

Just like we do with J.K.Rowling now.


Check out the Guardian for more on her visit to Orkney Library, a place with funny librarians.


Movie Reviews: Battle Royale


Battle Royale directed by Kinji Fukasaku

I remember when I first saw a reference to Battle Royale. I was scrolling through Netflix one night and saw the movie pop up under foreign films. It had a picture of two people in suits and some blood but when I clicked for more info, it showed an image reminiscent of a Godzilla film.

So I didn’t watch it until last year.

Battle Royale is based on a book by Koushun Takami. It is about a death program by the Japanese government where school students battle each other to the death. The movie itself is a little bit like the Running Man by Stephen King. It is a dystopian future where the deaths and elimination process is documented on TV. A former champion is even brought back. Overall, it was a weirdly enjoyable watch, not for the deaths, but for the subtle storytelling. They do flashbacks really well here and I actually felt something at the end, which is weird to say for a film of this genre.

People often rip Suzanne Collins and the Hunger Games series for basically being an American version of it. Yeah. I don’t know. Since it is all a rip off of Stephen King, does it even matter? Collins at least took her novels to a different place with her sequels. And the first two movies were better made. People should stop hating and just enjoy the stories for what they were. Otherwise people can scream all they want on any story where there is a deadly competition. It is called a TROPE for crying out loud. I mean, every romantic plot is the same in romantic comedies. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back at the very end after the relationship seems dead. If the comedian is the female, then just reverse the roles.

In any case. Battle Royale was worth a watch. Check it out

Movie Rating: 7/10