Washington, Lincoln—and Adams, Too! (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

Presidents’ Day began as a holiday to mark the birthday of the Father of Our Country, first President George Washington. It was later expanded to include the beloved 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. They’re most certainly worthy recipients of a holiday, but we’re thinking it’s time to also give a little love to Father George’s successor, second Prez John Adams. (Especially since he got cut from the hit musical Hamilton.)

And what better way to honor John Adams than to show off a first edition copy of this important 1787 book explaining his theories of the government of this country?

A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America
John Adams
1787, London. Printed for C. Dilly, in the Poultry
First Edition. In original binding.
$10,000johnadamsAdams intended to write a single volume. The first, published in London, was so successful that Adams was encouraged to write a second volume and then a third. The book promotes a mixed government in which “the rich, the well-born and the able” are separated into a senate, unable to dominate a lower house of representatives.

This copy, available at our South Arlington store, is in remarkable condition, considering its age and historical importance. The book is fragile but complete. There is an owner inscription from 1787 and a presentation inscription from 1909.

Interested in purchasing this piece of American history or learning more about it? Contact the Buy Guy!

Steve is the”Buy Guy” at Half Price Books Corporate.

Go Back to the Throwbacks: Vinyl, Board Games and Real Books

In this computer age, when everything’s digitized and carried around in your pocket, are people still buying actual, real books? Clunky board games with piles of pieces? Big, inconvenient LPs? Why, yes, they are!

For lifelong readers, there’s nothing that can take the place of holding and reading a real book or magazine. Board games offer tactile and kinetic pleasures that we need—and they do a great job of connecting us in groups of family or friends. And audio media that have come along after vinyl records just can’t compete with the richer aural and visual experience of LPs, which are worth a little inconvenience.

Those of us who’ve been around a while are rediscovering these throwback media. But the big and encouraging story is that younger generations who may start out curious about these relics are finding that they have a lot of value and many aesthetic advantages beyond their novelty. Continue reading

Celebrate Science Fiction Day and Asimov’s Birthday: Rarest of Rare Collectibles

Isaac Asimov’s exact birthdate is not known, but Isaac celebrated it on January 2nd, so that’s the “official” date. It also has been made Science Fiction Day in honor of this prolific writer who is considered one of the Big Three in the sci-fi genre. (The other two are Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke—no slouches, but they didn’t get Science Fiction Day on their birthdays.)

Asimov wrote more than 400 books and won the Hugo Award four times and the Nebula Award once. He wrote several series of books, notably the Foundation series, but also the Robot and Empire series, and, as Paul French, the Lucky Starr series for younger readers. He wrote numerous short stories, popular science nonfiction books and articles and provided the name and editorials, beginning in 1977, for Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine. Busy guy!

Our Fort Wayne, Indiana, store has a 1986 Easton Press leather-bound edition of Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves. This science fiction standalone classic was originally published in 1972 and won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novel. This copy is in Very Good condition, with a minor bump on the top right corner. Its price is $45. If you’re interested in purchasing this book, contact The Buy Guy!godsthemselves Continue reading

Christmas Past Makes a Great Christmas Present

The literary work most associated with Christmas is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but, really, all of Charles Dickens’ works somehow seem to fit the holiday season, so we would like to take this opportunity to feature a very special array of British editions of Dickens’ novels, mostly first editions illustrated by Phiz, and a couple of other very special holiday collectible editions.1-thechimes

The Chimes
This 1905 J.M. Dent deluxe edition of the second of Dickens’ famous Christmas books is bound in vellum, with lovely decorative gilt to the spine and front board, showing holly, ivy and cherubs in an Art Nouveau style. Illustrated by Charles E. Brock. $225

2-nicholasnicklebyThe Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
First Edition, mixed issue. Chapman and Hall, 1839. Twentieth-century half morocco binding by Zaehnsdorf of London. $1,200 Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Mark Twain!: Rarest of Rare Collectibles

On his 70th birthday, Mark Twain gave a speech to friends gathered at Delmonico’s Restaurant. To mark the occasion, he noted that the age of 70 is “the time of life when you arrive at a new and awful dignity; when you may throw aside the decent reserves which have oppressed you for a generation and stand unafraid and unabashed upon your seven-terraced summit and look down and teach—unrebuked.”

On the same occasion, he joked about his very first birthday: “I always think of it with indignation; everything was so crude, unaesthetic, primeval. Nothing like this at all. No proper appreciative preparation made; nothing really ready. Now, for a person born with high and delicate instincts—why, even the cradle wasn’t whitewashed—nothing ready at all. I hadn’t any hair, I hadn’t any teeth, I hadn’t any clothes. I had to go to my first banquet just like that.”

It got better for Mr. Twain. He lived a long and happy-but-cranky life, very productive and much celebrated during his time. Continue reading

Buy Guy Collections & Curiosities: When Brecah Met Harry

As a Half Price Books employee in the late 90s, Brecah started hearing a lot of buzz about a guy named Harry, and she wondered just who this fellow was. That’s where a love affair began—and has never ended.

Brecah has an ever-growing collection of all things Harry Potter: books (of course—some signed by author J.K. Rowling), movies, games, magazines, action figures and more.

I know a lot of our customers are just as fond of Harry as Brecah is, so in this, the third in our series of videos featuring our employees’ collections, Brecah shows us some of her treasures and lets us in on the magic spell of collecting Harry Potter.

We thank Brecah for sharing her Harry Potter collection with us. And to all of you HP (and HPB) fans out there, may Harry Potter books, movies and other delights continue to find their way from our shelves to yours! Fantastic Beasts hits theaters November 18.

Steve is the”Buy Guy” at Half Price Books Corporate.

H.P. Lovecraft: Rarest of Rare Collectibles

We’re getting ready for Halloween, and that doesn’t just mean putting the final touches on our zombie and Princess Leia costumes, it also means getting out our favorite creepy stories to set the mood. In our stores all around the country, books by Ray Bradbury, Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe are popping up on displays. Some of those displays include collectible books, and there are none finer than the two classic collections of H. P. Lovecraft works we’re featuring here.

Our Greenfield, Wisconsin, store was fortunate enough to have received a visit from the nephew of a very early Lovecraft enthusiast, Paul Klingbiel. Two Arkham House Lovecraft books were among the many books Uncle Paul had years ago, over many weeks, shipped to his science-loving nephew Robert. Now those two Arkham House treasures are being offered to our customers.

The Outsider and Others, by H. P. Lovecraft
Arkham House, 1939. First Printing.
The book is in Very Good Plus condition. The dust jacket, which is price-clipped, is in VG condition; there are several closed tears and paper loss to top and bottom of spine. $3,600

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Banned Collectible Books (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

Again this year, in honor of Banned Books Awareness Week, we present a couple of perennial reading-list favorites that have been censored and banned.

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
First Printing, Little, Brown & Co., 1951

In 2015, one of our two featured books during Banned Books Awareness Week was J.D. Salinger’s first book. That copy sold out of one of our Minnesota stores, and this year a Texas store has acquired another first edition in Very Good condition.

The Catcher in the Rye has remained a popular and critical favorite since it was published, appearing near the top of the “greatest American literature” lists of Time, Modern Library and many other listmakers. Many school districts and libraries have restricted or banned it for profanity, sexual references and for being “negative” and because it “undermines morality.”

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Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Birthday (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

In honor of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ birthday, we present an assortment of collectible editions, just a few examples from his prodigious output. His wrote novels ranging from science fiction to westerns to mysteries—and, of course, the Tarzan books.

Our South Lamar store in Austin, has acquired several early Grosset & Dunlap reprints of Burroughs novels, including The Mucker (1921), The Chessmen of Mars (1922), Pellucidar (1923), and The Eternal Lover (1925). All of these books are in dust jackets, in Good to Very Good condition. Prices range from $40 to $75. Another volume, not issued in a dust jacket, is The Illustrated Tarzan Books No. 1, published by Grosset & Dunlap in 1929, a graphic novel with 300 black & white illustrations by Harold Foster. Boards are heavily rubbed and bumped. Its price is $40.

The store also offers a 5.75” x 3.5” card, signed and inscribed by Burroughs “To Preston Sawyer, Best Wishes, Tarzana Jan. 4, 1929.” There is a certificate of authenticity that describes Sawyer (1899-1968) as a journalist for the Santa Cruz Sentinel and an avid collector of autographs and other memorabilia. The autograph card is priced $350.

001Books.jpgOur Flagship store in Dallas also recently took in a number of Edgar Rice Burroughs hardbacks, published not only by Grosset & Dunlap, Canaveral Press and McClurg, but also by Burroughs’ own publishing company. Highlights include a first edition of Escape on Venus (1946), as well as early reprints of A Fighting Man of Mars, Pellucidar and Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar. Prices range from $50 to $100. Condition is Good to Very Good. The Flagship also got a bunch of ERB paperbacks and a 1942 big-little-book edition of Tarzan the Terrible ($40). Continue reading

A British Invasion at Half Price Books

More than 600 books from across the waters will be available to see and purchase on September 9th.

Half Price Books has always been a melting pot of books and music. We still adhere to our founders’ motto: “We buy everything printed or recorded.” We take mass-market paperbacks along with fine antiquarian volumes; all formats of music and movies; games, both board and video; and now electronic devices related to books and music. Our 120+ stores buy all day every day and see and sell a little of everything. But still…

We’ve long pondered a little further outreach, specifically to England, for books. We were finally able to set something up with English bookseller Charlie Unsworth, with whom we’ve had a working relationship for decades: he worked out an arrangement with our book buyer James Crates to scout England for treasures seldom seen over this way; he gets them to us, and we offer them to our customers. Brilliant!

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