09 October 2007

The Hunt for....The Hunt.

Today I went to Barnes and Noble, as I sometimes do, and was browsing their used book section.

Usually, I'm a bit picky about the condition of my books. I want to be the one to mark them up, or dog ear the pages, or mash the corners. I want to be the first one to crack them open, to smell that strange new book smell, the first one to use the dust jacket as the bookmark. I want to be the one to bend the spine, highlight interesting passages, and write my own notes in the margins.

Recently, however, I have taken to reading my books with a small notebook with me. I can then write all my little notes in the notebook, therefore preserving the integrity of my library for future generations. My future generations. I will not get rid of my books. Most of them. Actually, my wife is good about making me get rid of stuff I don't use, and probably won't ever use. So yeah, I guess I do get rid of some of my books.

Anyway, I don't write in the margins as much as I used to.

I also have neither the time or the finances to pay publisher's list price for each and every book I want. I have a list, four legal pages long, with titles of books that I might like to read someday. I have some of them, but it seems that for every one on my list I find, I discover two, three, four more books that I wouldn't mind reading. It really is a vicious cycle.

So, I have been spending more and more time in the used book section. That, and Bargain Books, right down the road from B&N.

I have, for the past while, been attempting to collect hardcover versions of Tom Clancy's fiction. Tom has written twelve novels within the same storyline, following the adventures of Jack Ryan, CIA, and his friends and family. Though I must say that his later works stretch the series beyond what could be considered realism, they are still compelling to read, and full of action. And guns. And lots and lots of special operations personnel.

His first novel, The Hunt for Red October, was published by the Naval Academy Press. It remains the only fiction that they have published, and it also remains the biggest seller they have ever had. Not surprising if you consider that not many people would enjoy reading the full technical specifications of, say, AEGIS-class destroyers, or perhaps the operations manual for the sonar technicians aboard Los Angeles class submarines. Not that we could anyway, since I would have to guess that the majority of works published by the Academy Press are probably classified to some extent or other.

My collection of hardcovers is growing, but I still have some that I need to find. I was talking to my wife the other day, and mentioned that I probably would have to resort to ebay, or some other online shop to find the more rare examples. The ones that I had been finding are obviously the more common ones, the newer ones that are still in some dusty corner of the back room, or the ones that everyone has anyway.

I told my wife about the Hunt, telling her that that was one of them I would probably have to find online somewhere.

She was online at work, and she found some places that had Hunt, in fairly decent shape. I also found it, on ebay and on amazon. For ten to fifteen dollars, plus shipping. Not bad, I'll keep it in mind when I feel like getting it.

So today. I had some time to kill before work, so I wandered over to B&N. They had, where their Clancy stuff usually is, six first edition hard cover Tom Clancy books.

And guess what the first one was?

Yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen, The Hunt for Red October. Fairly decent shape. Some damage and discoloration of the dust jacket, but nothing wrong with the book itself. It actually looks nearly unread. Perhaps once or twice. All in all, it does not at all look like a twenty-three year old book.

And the price, for this 8 out of 10, nearly antique piece of literary history?

Five freakin' dollars.

Five hundred measley copper pennies.

40% of the complete collection of state quarters.

Less than a half hour of work.



1 comment:

-Tim said...

Awesome! That's so cool when you find books you have been looking for forever, literally in the bargin bin! I know exactly what you mean. :-)

Anyway as I'm sure you saw, since you commented in the article, Bookmooch is a super great way to get rid of some books you're not interested in and get some ohters you really want. I hightly suggest taking a look at it. It has been very rewarding for me!

Anyway, good luck with the rest of your search!