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News and musings about books, authors and collectible first editions brought to you by Squid Ink Books.com

Monday, April 2, 2018

2001 A Space Odyssey - Fifty Years Ago

The movie 2001 premiered on this date in 1968, 50 years ago - in New York City. The script was developed in 1965 and the movie came several years later, and then the book was published a couple of months later in June 1968. Shown here are two photos from the famous movie - early man-apes staring at the monolith in Africa millions of years ago (above) and the astronauts (Gary Lockwood left and Keir Dullea right) on the resultant voyage (following discovery of a similar monolith near the permanent moon-base) to Jupiter. In the background is "Hal" with his single eye, watching over them. Of the three stars of the film, "Hal" was perhaps the most memorable.

This was one of those rare situations where a script and movie led to publication of a very collectible book - jacket of US first above and of UK first below. It is often said that the movie script had its beginnings in a short story - The Sentinel written by Clarke in 1948; however Clarke has stated:
"I am continually annoyed by careless references to "The Sentinel" as "the story on which 2001 is based"; it bears about as much relation to the movie as an acorn to the resultant full-grown oak. (Considerably less, in fact, because ideas from several other stories were also incorporated.) Even the elements that Stanley Kubrick and I did actually use were considerably modified. Thus the 'glittering, roughly pyramidal structure… set in the rock like a gigantic, many-faceted jewel' became—after several modifications—the famous black monolith. And the locale was moved from the Mare Crisium to the most spectacular of all lunar craters, Tycho—easily visible to the naked eye from Earth at Full Moon."
Although the space program was well underway, the first landing on the moon would not take place until July 20 1969, a bit more than a year after the movie premiered. The predictions of the film would prove to be wildly optimistic - except perhaps with regard to "Hal" and the subsequent explosions in computing systems. The early science fiction writers (during the late 40s into the early 60s) consistently under-forecast the extreme developments in computing power and technology that were to come.

First editions in collectible condition range in price from around $300 to thousands of dollars for special or unusual signed copies.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Bradbury's Dandelion Wine And A Look Back At ABE Listings

I have recently been listing for sale a number of books from my personal library. When I started to list Ray Brabury's Dandelion Wine (his first novel, published by Doubleday back in 1957) I discovered that I had kept a copy of the ABE listings for that title. I had done the search in November 2001, before I bought the title from a local, used bookstore.

The comparison between the listings and prices from today versus more than 16 years ago provides indications about how the collectible book business has evolved as the Internet has grown.

In 2001 there were 7 first printings of the title offered on ABE. Prices ranged from $500 for a copy with serious problems, to $975 for the next copy, to $2,000 for the highest-priced copy.

Today there are 21 copies of the first printing up for sale on ABE. Prices range from $250 to $2,250. Several of the lower-priced copies have serious condition problems, or are lacking the dust jacket. In contrast, the highest-priced copy is offered at a price that is $1000 higher than the next copy offered. Most copies online today are priced from about $400 to $1000, depending condition. 

Not only has the title suffered price depression, but the number of copies available has tripled, and there are many more dealers with this title for sale. Of the 7 dealers offering this book in 2001, only three are currently selling online.

It has been quite a roller-coaster ride since I started selling back in 1994.