New Bookplates: Johannes Gutenberg as played by Arnold Swarzenegger

I found these first two plates in a curbed pile of books from the estate of a recently deceased local author. The artist signature looks like “M. A. Rasko”. Perhaps this is Maxmilian Aurel Reinitz Rasko (Hungarian-American, 1883–1961) who according to a (paywalled) NYT’s obit did portraits of U.S. Presidents. I have at least one duplicate of the muscleman plate if another collector wants to offer a trade.

The next plate from “Byrdcliffe”, is Pan and owl-themed. Signed with artist initials but I can’t make them out. Possibly this was ex-libris from the Byrdcliffe Artist Colony in Woodstock, New York? It was founded in 1902 during the Arts and Crafts-era (which would fit with this design).


Bookselling Tool: Plastic Film Sealer

Hand Impulse Heat Sealer and Poly Tubing

My book packing setup has evolved a lot since I started selling (probably thirty-thousand packages ago). Materials and sources have come and gone. Storage space has become more of a premium. Increasing postage costs and “free” shipping have made packing light essential. So, I’m always looking for items that:

  • streamline
  • simplify
  • reduce the cost of shipping.

The most recent addition to my packing arsenal is my Plastic Film Sealer and it accomplishes all of the above. Water-proofing a packaged book is important as you have no idea what kind of weather it will travel through; if it will be left on a porch or dropped in a puddle. Before this I used to struggle to keep correct size bags in stock and then have to tape them down to size. Now I keep a single roll of plastic tubing (12″ wide and sealed at the outside edges) and seal it to fit.

The sealer is always on but only active when you lower the handle. It makes a seal in a second or two (there’s a heat dial which you can adjust for thicker films) and then I cut it from the roll. The only complication is the “bubble effect” with the trapped air around the book. To get around this:

  • I make the initial two seals
  • puncture the bag with an awl near the edge
  • squeeze out the air (using a sheets of cardboard to apply even pressure)
  • make a third seal to close the awl puncture

That’s it. The heat sealer was ~$20 on eBay and was called a “Hand Impulse Heat Sealer”. The tubing “LDPE Poly Tubing” was ~$70 for 1000 yards (enough for 3000+ books at a cost of about 2 cents per book). I’ve done probably 1K packages and replaced the heating wire only recently (It came with an extra, so I’m not sure of the cost on that). The 12″ width on the tubing is fine for 99.9% of books because you can align them in either direction, but I’ve subbed in clear trash bags for the occasional elephant folio sized item.

This could also be useful for the FBA seller but you will either need to get tubing pre-printed with the assinine “Don’t let your baby play with this” text or apply it as a sticker.

Where’s the @#$%ing Search Box?

Just paste:{your search terms}

into the address bar; replace “{your search terms}” with…your search terms, hit enter and search away.

Sorry for the clunkiness. This theme doesn’t have a search box and adding it as a plugin is paywalled. I would have picked a different theme to start but I never suspected that searchbox was a “feature” and I already resized all my graphics for this one.

Thanks to Nosegraze for the tip. It works with all WordPress sites.

Shopping Alternatives: Discogs

Because of the shabby way I am treated on a certain ubiquitous shopping platform (one I can’t afford to boycott as a seller), I haven’t bought anything from them in almost two years. It ain’t much, but it’s something. Even in a major metropolitan area, it is surprisingly hard to do without said platform though, so I thought I would share my finds when I come across better shopping experiences.

Link to homepage

Discogs should be the musicophile’s first stop (after your favorite local record store).

Here’s why:

  • Their catalog data is excellent: On most sites you are lucky to find an album garbage streaming and maybe one listing each for CD and vinyl (with all the variations jammed together under those single headings). Discogs offers discreet links for every version of an album (original pressing, reissue, imports, promos, mono, stereo, cassette, 8-track, etc), all with careful discographic data. This data is compiled by obsessive collectors and is always a schooling even when I look up albums I know well.
  • Every professional record dealer lists there: In this, they are like ABEbooks, where you can find every bookdealer. This give you the best chance of finding the item you want and the most realistic price.
  • The record credits for every track on every record (almost) are hyperlinked: You can go down a deep rabbithole stalking your favorite bass guitarist, engineer or songwriter.
  • You can use it to catalog a collection: Because of this you can see how many people have and want the records you look up (giving you a pretty solid idea of how desirable it is).
  • It’s a great venue for selling: There’s no monthly fee. Their cut is more than reasonable (invoiced via paypal) and unlike SOME venues that will tell you “You need approval to list Popular Music and Popular DVD products.” about a completely arbitrary selection of music, you can sell what you want.

Check it out. And here’s a link to my modest discogs storefront. I’m more of a listener than a dealer. The record guys at estate sales are way too hardcore for me.

Recent Hunting

My haul from a recent hunting trip. Most of the stuff in the top photo was from a house cleanout. No mind-altering wallpaper this time. The biggest excitement was having to doubletime rifle through dozens of stacked, splitting boxes two steps ahead of the trashmen who were hauling everything away. This is a scary proposition because I usually find the best stuff on the second or third deep look after I have cleaned out all the obvious.

Highlights included nice, jacketed Asimov Physics 1sts, Mary Astor’s A Life on Film (HC 1st), Adultery For Adults (an interesting ’60s period piece on the practicalities of committing adultery discretely and sustainably) and a first of the Norman Mailer Marilyn Monroe bio with photos by Avedon, Beaton, etc.

Nothing extraordinary but a lot of stuff to ship off for fulfillment by Amazon which has become a steady and growing set-it-and-forget-it revenue stream.

The rest came from my habit of GPSing thrift stores whenever I’m in a new town. Found one that had a 79 cent DVD sale and I picked up some classics including the complete M*A*S*H for $6.

In the “just for me” department, I picked up a nice inlaid wood fliptop box a tiny rope monkey for the shadow box and a peculiar (and bad-ass) looking Japanese vegetable (?) knife made of Vanadium steel. Anyone have any idea what this is for?

Estate Sale Cleanout 1

The items in the next photo were the fruits of a trip to a stretch of “thrift” shops I’ve come to ignore because they believe you can ask internet premium for things that you are NOT going to deliver to a customer’s doorstep.

Saint Mario must have thrown me a star me because I found about a dozen rare Nintendo Gamecube titles (including late period RPGs and a SEALED Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance), all for $2 each. I also found a copy of Linda Lovelace’s Loose Lips: The Last Interview signed by punk /porn scribe Legs McNeil.

Rare Gamecube titles

All in all and fun few days of scouting that kept me up until 3 AM listing.

Psychedelic Grey Gardens

I bought a pile of books at a house cleanout recently. The place had 18 rooms and I kept getting lost and forgetting where I put down my piles. It didn’t help that the wall paper in the place was–bold.

Psychedelic Grey Gardens 1
Psychedelic Grey Gardens 2
Psychedelic Grey Gardens 3

That is some deep-pile purple and teal shag carpeting. The place was a bit dilapidated and kind of had a psychedelic Grey Gardens vibe. The owner was a practicing family/children’s counselor and had a large library of decently preserved children’s books (including some uncommon Black/African-American titles). Standouts were The Legend of Africania (which features a white demon tempting an African Prince to ravage his land for diamonds and gold and turning people of other races into business-suited profit drones), and Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears (with a 7″ record), beautifully illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. I might not be able to give that one up but most of these will be hitting my Children’s Books and Illustrators catalog in the next week or so.

Vintage children’s books

My other favorite book find was the commanding: Look Younger, Look Prettier with a great 70s day-glo cover and some fairly bonkers yoga illustrations.

Look Younger, Look Prettier

I think I saw that last routine at a Miley Cyrus concert. 

Can a gawky Louisiana farm girl transform herself into an international beauty? She can–in fact she did. Virginia Castleton Thomas was that girl who stared in awe at ‘beautiful ladies from New Orleans’ and resolved to transform her own life….Look Younger, Look Prettier is the distilled essence of the methods by which the transformation took place, and which can be used by any woman seeking the kind of beauty that does not wash off at night, but reflects  the glow of good health and spiritual serenity.

Look Younger, Look Prettier (jacket copy)

Some other things don’t wash off so easily either as illustrated below:

“Laura’s vacations helped create family disunity.”

WooWoo Dumpster Haul

Witness the carload of Kabbalah, occult, Theosophy, reincarnation and general WooWoo that I dumpster-dived (with permission) from a snow-covered bin behind a local thrift store.

WooWoo remains evergreen better than some topic areas because it never had a connection with contemporary, experienced reality to begin with. For the bookseller this makes it a similar prospect to higher math (and both subjects make my brain hurt).

These are mostly headed to the Amazon warehouse for the FBA program but a few of the more vintage/unique titles will be findable in my New Age catalog.