Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Out of Print, Out of Reach?
Over the years I've purchased hundreds of wonderful hard-to-find and out-of-print books from used bookstores across North America. Used bookstores introduced me to the sublime madness of 1994: The Savage Report, the adventure pastiches of Philip José Farmer, curiosities such as The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste and Cult Movies, Edgar Rice Burroughs' Venus and Pellucidar novels and countless others. It took me ten years of searching to find all three volumes of Michael P. Kube McDowell's Trigon Disunity series, but I did it, and the conclusion of that search was rewarding indeed. (It helped that the books were as entertaining and well-crafted as I'd hoped they would be.)
Though I still frequent used book stores, the Internet has fundamentally altered the search for books. These days, I visit used bookstores when I feel like browsing. When I'm searching for something in particular, I use the Internet. Since the early 2000s I've purchased dozens of books online, almost always finding exactly what I'm looking for in seconds. Even long out-of-print rarities can be had at reasonable prices...usually.
But the Internet isn't perfect, and several works still elude my grasp after years of searching. Several of the titles I desire are either unavailable or prohibitively expensive; I'll have to continue prowling used bookstores to find them.
(Surprisingly, Value Village turns out to be a decent haven for used books; I found three today, purchased for the princely sum of $2.17.)
Recently my parents visited the world's biggest used bookstore in Portland, Oregon, but even they couldn't dig up the titles on my most-wanted list. So if anyone sees the following titles in their travels, please alert me:
The Outer Limits Companion (second edition, 1999) by David J. Schow
Logan's Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson
Logan's World by William F. Nolan
Logan's Search by William F. Nolan
High Crystal by Martin Caidin
Operation Nuke by Martin Caidin
Cyborg IV by Martin Caidin
By all accounts none of these are literary masterpieces (though the Schow book, I'm told, is a solid critical work), but I've been curious about them for some time. I read Logan's Run at the public library in Leaf Rapids, but I've never seen the sequels on sale; Sean lucked out and found Logan's Search a couple of years ago. The three Caidin books are the second, third and fourth novels about Steve Austin, cyborg, known on television as the Six Million Dollar Man. I own the first Cyborg novel, but the others continue to elude me.
Even if I never stumble across any of the works on this short list, the search will guide me to other, perhaps even more obscure but intriguing books. I'd certainly never have read the bizarre but somehow compelling The Second War of the Worlds if I hadn't been searching for something else entirely, and I feel all the richer for it...somehow.