View Full Version : Best Book Bargains

11-17-2009, 06:05 PM
I have had some nice luck on eBay recently. I won two books at very reasonable prices that I have been looking for for a long time. The first one was a signed limited edition HC of The Unblemished by Conrad Williams, published by Earthling Publications in 2006. I happened upon the auction after it was only a couple of hours old and it had a Buy It Now price of $15.95. I snagged it immediately. The cover price is $45. It is a beautiful looking book. The next book I won was an older paperback titled Ghouls in My Grave by Jean Ray, published by Berkley Medallion in 1965. I got it for just over $15.

These bargains got me to thinking about my best book purchases. My best deal was also on eBay quite a few years ago. It was a copy of Deliver Me From Eva by Paul Bailey published in 1946. It is a first edition HC with the original dust jacket. I won it with the opening bid of $5. At the time there were only a few listed at ABEbooks.com starting at over $200. It is such a scarce title that no one else was looking for it. Lucky me! It was selected by Forrest J. Ackerman as his choice for the book Horror 100 Best Books. I was on a kick back then to get all 100 books. I missed out on a great deal at the same time, though, because the same seller sold a first edition of Guy Endore's The Werewolf of Paris for only $28. I couldn't bid on it because I was broke. A few more I can think of are The Machine to Kill by Gaston Leroux, first edition HC published by The Macauley Company in 1935 for $5, Crypt of Cthulhu #68 (the Ligotti Issue) I got on eBay for $2. A signed copy of Dradin in Love by Jeff Vandermeer for $6. A like new HC copy of The Man with the Barbed Wire Fists by Norman Partridge for $2. The Death Guard by Philip G. Chadwick for $1. (This book was selected by Karl Edward Wagner as one of the best Sci-fi horror novels.) That's all I can think of at the moment. What were some of your best buys?

The New Nonsense
11-17-2009, 07:44 PM
Funny you bring this up. I had a bit of luck this last Sunday. There's a used book chain in my area called "Half Price Books". If one signs up for their email list, they occasionally email coupons. On Sunday they issued a "one-day-only 50% off coupon -- anything in the store". Much to my pleasure, someone had recently sold off their collection of Franklin Library/Easton Press books. I'm sure many of you are familiar with these high-end publishing companies (really nice leather bound editions with gilt embossing). They had a pristene, limited edition copy of M.R. James' Ghost Stories of an Antiquary priced at $150. It's a beautiful book: black leather with embossed cobwebs, tail bands, ribbon bookmarker, and gilt edges. So I used my coupon and got it for half off. Only $75 and at $75 off. I also picked up a Franklin Library edition of Selected Poems of W.B. Yeats and Henry James: Tales, only $15 and $30 respectively. They also had a Easton Press leather bound copy of W.W. Jacobs' The Monkey's Paw and Other Tales of Mystery and the Macabre priced at $100. I wanted that one too. I had printed off multiple coupons; however, they were only good for "one per customer". Fortunately, my girlfriend used the other coupon and picked it up for me. So, The Monkey's Paw for only $50 instead of $100. So, over all I saved $125!

In the same store I also found an interesting book titled, The Golem: A New Translation of the Classic Play and Other Selected Short Stories by Joachim Neugroschel (hardcover). As the title implies, the play and the stories all center around the "Golem of Prague" legend. Pretty cool. What's even better is that the price tag read ".98 cents". I knew it had to be an error, as it looked new. I asked the girl working at the counter if that was correct, and she replied, "No. It should be $9.98, but I'll sell it to you for what it reads, .98 cents. That's our policy." No argument here!

11-21-2009, 01:40 PM
The best score for me came years ago, when I worked in a thrift store. I was into Lovecraft, but had a hard time getting my hands on reasonably-priced books. This was in the late '80s, and the Del Rey books with Michael Whelan covers seemed to go in and out of print at random. In the pre-internet times, that was about all I could find besides the Arkham House editions, which I could not afford. Used book stores near me would sometimes have an old beat-up paperback from earlier decades, but these were also a little pricey for my meager budget.

I was sweeping the floor at work one day, when I passed by the shabby and chaotic book section of our store. An attempt was usually made at some kind of order when books were placed on the shelves for sale, but it was pretty random. On this day, I saw a stack of paperbacks sitting on a high shelf, separate form the other books. I caught the word "Lovecraft" on one and immediately dropped the broom.

I found nine H.P. Lovecraft-related paperbacks, published in the late '60s and early '70s. Most were Ballantine, with a few Beagle Boxer editions. I was floored - this was an incredible find! I hid the books as best I could, and after my shift, I retrieved them and bought them all for $1 each.

Besides my first copy of "At The Mountains of Madness," I got my introduction to Lovecraft's poetry, "Fungi From Yuggoth & Other Poems." One of the other books was Lin Carter's "Lovecraft: A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos", the first book I ever read of this type.

There was also a good sampling of Derleth pastiches and collaboration/revison stories, including "The Lurker at the Threshold," "The Horror in the Museum", "The Survivor & Others" and "The Shuttered Room." The other two books were "Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos" volumes 1 and 2, featuring Lovecraft, Smith, Howard, Kuttner, Bloch, Campbell, Lumley, etc. This was the first time I encountered Clark Ashton Smith, and I instantly began seeking out his other works, an extremely frustrating task at the time.

Since then, I have gained access to a much wider variety of Lovecraft's work, in much nicer formats. Still, these books are important to me, and played a large part in shaping my future interests. And the cover art... Some of it is absolutely mind-blowing:


There have been some other scores over the years, but this incident was the most significant, I think.

Julian Karswell
11-21-2009, 09:06 PM
[I know I've cut short my two week stint in the sin-bin, but this thread is too good to miss, and I have just had to endure two-and-a-half hours of "Twilight - New Moon" in the company of a couple of hundred spotty, swooning teenage girls.]

A few years ago, I called the US to order a 'true' first edition of Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper", which had been listed for about $50. The seller mumbled something it having a signature inside from a woman called Stetson. I didn't really pay attention because I was just pleased to get the book, but when it arrived, I realised that it was the author's own copy, and that she'd signed it with her original name.

On another occasion I was footling around a long-gone shop in Guildford called Traylens; it was actually a very large town mansion which the wealthy owners had used for selling books for a couple of generations. I sauntered over to their new acquistions section and found a rare novel by Theo Gift [authoress of the rare collection "Not For The Night-Time"] for 50 pence. It was signed Dora Havers (Gift's real name) and had several letters loosely laid-in which comprised letters from the authoress to a person who had intimate knowledge of the events which inspired the book.

The collector Andrew Stevens has shown me many kindnesses (Andrew sold a large collection of weird fiction at Sothebys in 1996, in perhaps the biggest sale of its kind ever held), not least in sending me a copy of a catalogue which he never actually published, allowing me free reign to purchase several obscure interesting titles. But on one occasion he wrote me that he had just returned from a poor week's book-hunting in Ireland, saying that he had declined to purchase the only interesting book he'd seen on the grounds that it wasn't good enough for his rather picky taste. The book was a triple-decker first edition of Le Fanu's "In A Glass Darkly" which contains many interesting stories, including 'Carmilla'. Anyway, he said he'd seen it in Dublin, but couldn't remember where. I checked my copy of Shepard's and found that there were about thirty off bookshops in Dublin, and reasoned that even were I to call every one, the chances are that it would have sold anyway. Nevertheless, I picked one at random, deciding to phone three. I made my first call and the phone was answered almost immediately; I asked whether they had anything interesting by Le Fanu in stock, and the seller promptly informed me that he had a first edition of "In A Glass Darkly" in three volumes for the princely sum of 125..... Naturally I bought the book on the spot, knowing it to be worth at least ten times as much.

Another time I placed an order with Powells in the US, and received conflicting emails about the book's availability. So I called them up long distance, and they apologised, and said they'd taken duplicate orders, and that the book was already in the post to someone else. I was miffed but not gutted - you soon learn not to take these things personally, it's all a matter of luck and risk - but then they asked if I was interested in ghost stories, and I said yes, so they said in that case they had just had a batch in, and would I be interested in near fine copies of Morrow's "The Ape, The Idiot & Other People", "Dawson's "An Itinerant House" and Mrs Molesworth's "Uncanny Tales"? I think I paid $100 in total for all three; $150 with postage (and this was only about 3 years ago). Then less than a week later they listed a supernatural novel in original dw by Marion Fox for $25 plus postage; I ummed and ahhed for about half a second and then bit their hand off.

This sort of thing has occasionally happened to me i.e. I call up to order a book, find out it's sold, only to learn that the seller has other rare supernatural titles on offer but hasn't got round to listing them yet. That's why it always pays to be polite about missing out in the first place. Besides, I've often overpaid for books, and usually paid 'the going rate' for most things on average, so things usually even out. But it certainly does set your pulse racing when you spot a rariety that somebody has missed.

I'd been looking for a very rare Edwardian horror collection for about 15 years and had almost given hope of ever finding a copy. I'd advertised, I'd programmed wants with Ebay and ABE, and I'd added it to wants lists, but kept turning up zilch. Then six months ago, walking past a charity shop in my home town, I saw a copy in the shop window with a price tag on it for 12. Unbelieveable, utterly unbelieveably.

The fun of book collecting is being constantly surprised by what you can find if you look about wide enough. Sure, you'll miss out on at least half of what you do see - somebody will swoop in and outbid you, or it will be a flawed copy, or somebody might use dirty-tricks to barge you out the way to snaffle the mouthwatering gem - but that just makes the things you secure taste even sweeter.

I once took a rare Conan Doyle pamphlet to a London bookfair and approached the well-known seller Nigel Williams. I asked him if he'd be interested in buying the item (I found it in a shop in Reading and thought that selling it would at least pay for my trip to London). He asked how much I wanted for it. I said fifty. Without batting an eyelid, he pulled his wallet from his jacket, pulled out some notes, and pressed them in my hand. As I handed over the pamphlet - which I knew to be worth between 100 and 200 to a well-known dealer - I glanced down and realised that he had misheard me, and had given my 15. But for some odd reason I felt awkward and embarrassed and didn't seek to correct the misunderstanding. He disappeared into the crowd making his way back to his stall, and I shuffled along feeling rather silly and slightly aggrieved, but accepting that it not been his fault. However, this very minor matter bugged me for years, and I was reminded of it every time his printed catalogue landed with a soft, plump thump on my doormat. I never bought anything from him, because he didn't sell the items I was interested in, and on the rare occasions he did secure copies of something half interesting, they were London dealer prices which I couldn't afford. And then, perhaps three or five years on, I was idly flicking through his latest offering, and found an R R Ryan title in original dustwrapper for about 75 [the last one I know of sold for 2,500 at auction a few months ago]. Anyway, after I had stopped palpitating, I called up to enquire after the book, as coolly as possible, and was rewarded with snagging it. Finally I could lay the ghost of the Conan Doyle pamphlet to rest. The score had been evened up.

I've heard of some other wonderful finds, like the dealer who found Stenbock's own personal signed copy of "Studies Of Death" at a London bookfair about 5 years ago for 30; and of the seller who sold a copy of Blayre's "The Cheetah Girl" for 8 (the next customer in the queue - a bookdealer with...ahem.....a colourful reputation - called up the lucky party and offered 15, saying he was prepared to pay double for it because he wanted it for "research" purposes).

Of course, the best books are to be found in one's own dreams.


The New Nonsense
11-22-2009, 12:38 AM
This reminds me of the time I found a copy of Ligotti's Songs of a Dead Dreamer (Silver Scarab). It was at a H.P. Lovecraft Convention, "Necronomi-Con" in Providence in 2001. The book dealer must not have realized what he had. He sold me the book for $20 -- you read that right -- $20. I was with a good friend at the time (also a Ligotti fan) who knew I already owned a copy (one that I'd paid over ten times that amount). He argued that I didn't need two copies. This was true, and out of the goodness of my heart I let him have it for $20. Some day I'm going to call in that favor.

11-24-2009, 03:40 PM
I never seem to have much luck with eBay in the books department. Just when I think I have a prize sewn up, someone swoops in at the last nanosecond and snatches it from my grasp.

12-18-2009, 03:12 AM
I bought 1000 best baby bargains and I have to say, there are SO SO SO many more tips and tidbits on how to save money in this book. If you are on a budget, this is the book to buy. This book is true to it's title. That other Baby Bargains book by Denise and Alan Fields has horrible reviews and I read that the authors write their own 5 star reviews and then slash all their competitors books with bad reviews just to try and get their rankings up higher. I think buying a book about good content is just as important as buying a book written by good people. This book is it. I also really liked the book,

07-07-2010, 12:49 AM
I made three good purchases recently.

A Nest of Nightmares by Lisa Tuttle for $13 postpaid. The next cheapest one on Abebooks is over $70 postpaid.

The Cook by Harry Kressing for $12 postpaid. A comparable book in the same condition costs about $30 postpaid. This novel was selected by Bentley Little for The Book of Lists Horror. His contribution was "Ten Horror One-Hit Wonders That Everyone Should Read". It also got great reviews in mainstream criticism. The plot sounds like Stephen King's later novel Needful Things minus the supernatural element. I really like the minimalist cover art. (I got the paperback. The photo shown has the same artwork, but it is the hardcover edition)

Keep Out The Night edited by Stephen Jones for $14.50 postpaid. This is part of the new Not at Night series by PS Publishing. It is in perfect shape. The next cheapest edition that I can find on the net is over $40 postpaid. (I can't find a photo)

So I have convinced myself that I didn't just squander another $40 on books, but that I saved a fortune. What's another delusion more or less?



09-25-2010, 01:43 PM
I won a first edition signed hardcover copy of Why Not You and I? by Karl Edward Wagner on eBay for $13.50 post paid. It was published by Dark Harvest in 1987. The least expensive one that I can find (that isn't an ex-library edition) is over $50 postpaid on abebooks.

http://pics.livejournal.com/cassiphone/pic/0004qs5k/s320x240 (http://pics.livejournal.com/cassiphone/pic/0004qs5k/)

This book isn't really horror, but is a collection of pulp fiction from the 30s and 40s. I have been looking for it for a long time. I won it on eBay for $11 postpaid. The next cheapest one that I can find is over $70 on abebooks. It was published by Starmont House in 1991. They have published some interesting horror books, including work on Lovecraft, Bloch, Hugh B. Cave, and others.


One book that got away was a lettered tray case edition of Terry Dowling's Basic Black. It sold for $50 on ebay. That was the opening price. I was going to place a bid, but the original bidder put in a safety bid at the last minute and the only thing I would have accomplished was driving the price up by ten or fifteen dollars, so I let it go. I wasn't going to bid much more. This is an expensive book that usually sells for over $200, when you can find it at all.


Cyril Tourneur
09-28-2010, 10:39 AM
Last week I bought the second annual run of the 'Orchideengarten' for 190 ; a book which is offered for 6000 $ on abebooks....many, many thanks to a friend of mine who discovered and acquired that book for me and didn't charge a higher price for it

09-28-2010, 04:20 PM
I've just started my collection of weird fiction last year, so I don't have any really stellar bargains on the used book front. However, if we can make an exception for graphic novels, I bought the full run of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's Flex Mentallo at cover price, which was quite a find. Not only is it the first work Quitely had published in the US, it's his first DC Comics collaboration with Morrison (they would go on to do, among others, the high-tech creature feature We3 and the iconic All-Star Superman), and one of Grant Morrison's best stories.


It's extremely rare and costly because the title character is Morrison's riff on the Charles Atlas ad (http://www.bodybuildingreviews.net/bodybuildingdoc/atlas.jpg) from vintage American comics, and the Atlas estate was none too pleased with the satirical faux-history Morrison serialized at the back of the issues, which included jabs at the homoeroticism of early superhero publishers, Nazi propagandists in America, and the infamous issue of Superman where JFK's face is stolen that was released a day after his death. They sued DC Comics over copyright infringement and, though they lost, the series has never been reprinted, presumably because DC doesn't think it would be profitable enough to offset another round of legal fees with the Atlases. A real shame, because the series serves as Grant Morrison's reality-warping manifesto on the men in tights genre, as well as an examination of his own creative life. I was a Morrison fan long before I discovered Ligotti, and I view him as an ultrapositive yin to Ligotti's shadowy yang - both write fantastical metanarratives and ultimately recognize the insanity of the human condition, but Morrison urges his readers to endlessly mutate to stranger forms in the blind chaos instead of ending it.

09-28-2010, 05:18 PM
I've been lucky enough to acquire quite a few OOP Tartarus Press titles for something quite below list price, including:
Alain-Fournier, Le Grand Meaulnes
Nugent Barker, Written With My Left Hand
Ralph Adams Cram, Black Spirits and White
John Meade Falkner, The Lost Stradivarius
Sarban, Ringstones
Stevenson, Robert Louis, The Suicide Club
Various, Aklo

All of which ended up costing me less than 20.
I've just ordered Edward Heron-Allen's The Princess Daphne at 80, and it feels like a bargain too. Buying Reggie Olivers Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini at 40 wasn't half bad either. But I've never found that brilliant bargain which all collectors strive for. That means: most of my bargains have been when I bought books which weren't out of print yet. But then again, I'm not sure I am a book collector as such, even though I prefer some editions to other editions.

09-29-2010, 10:38 AM
Wow! Where did you managed to find those Tartarus titles at such great prices Mads? Or do you not want to disclose your secret sources? I wouldn't blame you if you didn't! ;)

09-29-2010, 01:01 PM
Wow! Where did you managed to find those Tartarus titles at such great prices Mads? Or do you not want to disclose your secret sources? I wouldn't blame you if you didn't! ;)

I forgot to mention Henry Ferris' A Night With Mephistopheles as well.

And to thank Chris Barker regarding the Oliver book.

I think I have just been very, very lucky. And that I have possibly spent too much time on the internet looking for books to buy, instead of reading the books.
Some of them I bought when Fantasy Centre closed down; a sad occasion, but not sad enough for me to supress my vultural tendencies (I also bought heaps of in print titles).

But mostly, it's down to luck. For instance, I've just bought parts of a large collection of Current 93, Death in June and Coil cd's were many of them were way below the usual price, and that was pure coincidence; me overhearing a phone conversation in a record shop. I guess being nosy helps, sadly.

09-30-2010, 12:54 PM
Ah, I wish I had some of your luck Mads. I feel lucky if I can find an out of print book just at or only slightly above list price, never mind below list price.

And congrats on the CD collection find! I know just how rare and pricey some of those older apocalyptic folk releases can be...

11-11-2011, 01:45 PM
A few more book bargains that I can recall.

HPL : A Tribute to Howard Phillips Lovecraft. This is an outstanding magazine sized fanzine of 143 pages chock full of stories, articles, and art, published in the early 1970s by Meade & Penny Frierson. I have been bidding on this for ages, but it usually got too expensive. I finally won a copy for $25. The cheapest one on the net that I can find is $150.


I won the first eighteen volumes of The Fontana Book of Ghost Stories for $26 postpaid. I was just looking for the first eight volumes because I wanted to see the stories that Robert Aickman chose and to read his introduction to the volumes. I was prepared to pay more than that for the eight volumes.

I got a new copy of Simon Bestwick's A Hazy Shade of Winter for $20.

I also won a copy of HPLS Dark Adventure Radio Theatre's production of The Shadow Over Innsmouth for a dollar. Not proud of this acquisition, though, because I like to support new work. But I caved in.

11-12-2011, 07:42 PM
For several years since I first moved to South Cambridgeshire I've been seeking a copy of Archaic Tracks Around Cambridge, a slim 80pp book first printed in 1932 by Alfred Watkins (author of The Old Straight Track, and the originator of the much-maligned concept of 'Ley-lines').

The book occasionally appeared on the Abebooks website, but at prices well in excess of 150, yet which still seemed to be snapped-up pretty promptly by those with deeper pockets than I have.

However, the website has an 'alert' function which emails you as soon as a dealer uploads the book you've specified; and so, more out of hope than expectation I signed up.

Incredibly, a few days afterwards I got an email saying a copy was available in Lewes for a mere 25. I was on the phone to the dealer 2 or 3 hours later, but the book had already gone! Two silent years had passed when, out of the blue last week, Abebooks emailed me to say that a dealer in Canterbury was advertising a copy for 30. No shilly-shallying on my part this time.

There is a certain smug satisfaction when the long-sought-after book plops onto the doormat that I feel I don't need to elaborate on any further for my fellow TLO members. The 'alert' function on Abebooks is well worth signing-up for as inevitably some non-genre dealers will advertise books without realising the true value - you may feel slightly piratical, but I assure you the feelings of guilt are purely transitory...

Dr. Bantham
08-21-2014, 09:49 PM
I managed to snag NOCTURNAL PRODUCTS by Eddie M. Angerhuber today for $13.86 including shipping. I have owned an as new copy for several years that I stowed away in hopes that I would eventually come upon a reading copy and so here we are now.

Dr. Bantham
08-21-2014, 11:05 PM
where the f***?!?! did you find that? please, there is a story here...
Not nearly as convoluted a story as it should be. I found it while browsing Abebooks. I kept thinking that it must be a mistake and that it would disappear before I checked out. The shipping was free and what is more I had a coupon code for 10% off. I would feel guilty if it were not for the tug of the counterbalance pulling against my glee, but so it is with the ways of me.

Wait, should I not have answered "---" to the greatest consistently transient TLO member of all time? Perhaps I should refrain from the permanent testament of expression myself, and instead rely on the reverberation of tangential essence. With hindsight, I just might be recalled more fondly in the end.

08-22-2014, 04:17 AM
I saw that--missed it, of course--and am glad you got it, Doctor, and not some dealer.