Monday, March 05, 2007

That's right, I'm asking your opinion

Here's something to ponder that came up in discussions with Stewie this weekend...

The subject of lending books.

See, we both collect limited edition horror fiction from places like (in alphabetical order):

Bloodletting Press
Cemetery Dance Publications
Delirium Books
Earthling Publications
Gauntlet Press
Subterranean Press
• And others...

These books, while some cost $100 or more, mostly run between $35 and $75 each. They're limited, so there's only so many printed (i.e. one of 1,000).

So your $40 gets you a hardback with a dust jacket, autographed on a limitation page. And in most cases thus far, some terrific fiction.

Now, I offered to loan Stewie a book sometime back so he could read something by an author he liked. He wouldn't borrow it. "What if something happens to it?" he asked.

Don't get me wrong. I've loaned out "regular" books and had them come back with the spines broken, pages dog-eared, etc. Twice, friends have had to buy me entirely new books due to unfortunate run-ins with liquids such as coffee.

But Stewie understands. He collects like me. He'd be careful. In fact, he'd probably be more careful than me.

He sometimes gets reading copies of books so he doesn't have to sit around messing with the pretty, costly, special ones. Not that I blame him or think he's necessarily a little nuts.

Well, at least not because of THAT.

So anyway, I was saying, the thing for me is, unlike Stewie, I read these books. You know, crack 'em open and page through 'em. Sometimes, while drinking, or eating, or even on the throne, where I get some of my best reading time in. I've got oily skin, so I'm sure I get fingerprints on them and stuff. In fact, one publisher thoughtfully puts its dustjackets in special plastic protectors (like book covers), and I take them out! (Because they annoy me.)

I mean, I take good care of my books, I'm careful with them, but I read them in the practical sense of the word. I've got an LE on my nightstand at home right now. And in fact, when we were talking about these books, I was at Stewie's, and I had that one crammed in my overnight bag. Yes, I kept it in its own pocket, but I'm sure I've rendered the dust jacket slighly less than "mint/near mint" condition over the past few weeks I've been trying to finish it in between all the things I should be doing instead.

I take my books on airplanes, the train into New York City, on road trips of all types. Crammed into my bag, usually.

So I don't see the big deal in loaning a book to somebody careful. Of course, I would never infringe on Stewie and try to force him to read a book of mine. I mean, duh. If he's not comfortable with borrowing it, so be it. I wouldn't ever want to make him feel uncomfortable, either forcing a book on him or debating his feelings about borrowing. That would be being a bad friend. And that's not my intent.

But I'm wondering, my readers... Who's right? Am I being careless with these books I'm so addicted to and have spent so much money on? Or is Stewie just more cautious than me, and to each his own? His copy of some LE will be pristine while I'm crying over my copy, which I just dropped in my sink or something? (Hope not. Knock wood.)

I don't have an answer. What do you think?

(And no, I have no idea how to make HTML polls. Yet. Be grateful I got the Monkey Waistline Tracker table on without hurting myself.)


REAL said...

For the most part I am going to have to agree with you.

I understand Stewie's point of view, however they are books and books are meant to be read. (btw that period should be pronounced - period).

I have never collected "limited Edition" regular books but I used to collect "Graphic Novels" (read as comic books). I read almost all of them. The exceptions included three issues that were sealed in bags and every single one of those was obtained in duplicate so I could in fact read the story. I had a print proof that I didn't read but I didn't normally read that series and the pages were not cut apart so I couldn't read it (the pages are printed on big sheets and folded over and later trimmed so all the pages are separated and this one wasn't).

I had a poster of one of my favorite series that was extremely rare (there were fewer than 100 because the truck that was shipping them caught on fire) and I had it signed by the creator and the man who painted the poster. You know what I did with it? I hung it up on my wall so I could enjoy it.

I understand wanting to keep them in good condition but they are worthless if they are not worth reading.

MitchJ said...

I don't think there's a right or wrong here; though, I tend to lean more to your way of thinking.

But there are a lot of collectors out there that will buy two of something, even a magazine, just so they can seal one up. I've seen people in a Borders who will leaf through the various copies of a magazine just to find the one in the best condition.

I think your intention with Stewie is the right way to go. No need for either of you to feel uncomfortable. Just accept the differences and leave it at that.

My 2 cents.

Freak Magnet said...

I think you're both right. It's whatever's most important to you. I keep copies of favorite books, and while I HATE breaking the spine, it wouldn't bother me if they looked worn from my reading them. But I also understand what it's like to shell out good money and not want something to get scratched. For instance, I came upon an EXTREMELY rare double cd by a band Billy Squier was in, and debated for the longest time over whether I was going to actually open it. I broke down and opened it, but made copies and put it back in its case. So I straddle both sides of the argument.

Stewie said...

okay, let me clear some things up. lol.

First, I read my LEs. I take them to work, I take them on the plane, I take them to the coffee shop.

Books are meant to be read, and I'm not going to drop 40 - 80 bucks on a book, only to have it sit on a shelf. That's ridiculous. I've already replaced two covers on my LEs due to tears and rips, and I suspect I'll be ordering a couple more on two other books. The only reason I'm replacing them is because they are out on display, so they might as well look nice.

The reason why I won't loan them out is because many of them are (as Eric knows) out of print. So what I may have purchased originally for $40, I would ultimately be responsible for replacing for, many times, a much higher price. Not to mention books I've had personalized. I don't want to deal with that, and I won't borrow anyone's LEs because I don't want that responsibility. If someone is going to spill coffee on my book, it's going to be me. :)

Also, I've bought exactly one reading copy. Just one. And that was for The Rutting Season. Anyone who knows me knows why that particular book is important to me, and why I'd like to keep the LE in as nice shape as possible.

It's more of an issue of responsibility than anything. I don't want it, and I don't trust anyone with it -- especially when it comes to the LEs I've gone out of my way to get personalized. They may be replaceable to a degree, but the work/cost involved would be entirely too frustrating.

Ace said...

Thanks for clarifying, Stewie. Wasn't meant to misrepresent your stance or anything.

You just had me thinking about how I take care of my books and whether it was better to take better care of them.

Believe me, I totally understand where you're coming from. In fact, I was sort of thinking your way (more care, in general) might be better.

Hope I didn't paint you as an anal-retentive freak. Wasn't meant that way!

Stewie said...

Oh, I'm anal-retentive. That's why the post didn't bother me in the least. I wouldn't put something like that past me. :)

MitchJ said...


Thanks for clearing that up, Stewie. Sorry for the misunderstanding.