Jun 122011
Part of the Cool Books Series - Previous in series         
Norman Rockwell's Swimming Hole (1920)

Norman Rockwell’s Swimming Hole (1920)

One of the great things about being a library book sale addict is that I get to handle about 1,000 books a week and I come across some really cool stuff.  The latest example is Swimming Holes of California: Day Trips With a Splash by Pancho Doll.  As a fan of both water and road trips, this book was a no-brainer purchase for me as it details more than 100 swimming holes throughout California.  Pancho spent nine months traveling California in its entirety, driving more than 25,000 miles to get the skinny on the best (and worst) spots to cool off, relax and simply have fun.  And he’s created a guidebook that’s not only useful and fun to read, but covers a subject/area of interest that has long been neglected, IMO.

Every swimmin’ hole is given three or four paragraphs of editorial content including detailed directions, GPS coordinates, and a copy of the USGS 7.5-minute topographic map of the area.  But that is just the beginning.  Continue reading »

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Sep 262009

Library Book Sales Rock!

Library Book Sales (which I still refer to as book fairs for some reason) are like the floating craps games of the literary world – except everyone’s a winner.  Despite my arguments against coercive funding of public libraries in general and my problems with my local President of the Morgan Hill Friends of the Library I’ve been haunting library book sales since I was old enough to leave the house on my own.  And I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of a single one without new reading material under my arm.

This afternoon I stopped by the Friends of the Milpitas Library Fall Book Sale and walked out with my wallet $25 lighter, but my bookshelf 13.2 pounds heavier (and those were all paperbacks!)  At a price of $1.50/inch I managed to find 25 new books for my personal library.  Everything from the 1977 In Search of Myths and Monsters by Alan Landsburg (with a foreward by Leonard Nimoy!), to The Analects of Confucius as translated and annoted by Arthur Waley, and from Look and Learn French by Anna Balakian  to help Zaira withe her French lessons which are entirely online) to What’s the Number for 911? America’s Wackiest 911 Calls by Leland H. Gregory III (because Z’s mom used to be a 911 dispatcher).  Not to mention more than a dozen “classics” including To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee which is required reading for Z’s English class this year, but we’ve been unable to find in a half dozen rips to vaious used book stores.

Speaking of used bookstores… I still have that fetish as well, and since I’m home schooling Zaira now we’ve been making more trips then ever.  But the last time we visited Book Buyers in Mountian View we picked up 10 books for  $65.  We regularly have the same experience at my favorite local used book store: Recycle Books in downtown San Jose. As much as I love them, they just can’t even come close to the bargains available at library book sales.

I just today discovered a great new resource for book sale lovers such as myself.  It’s called, simply enough, Book Sale Finder.  They list literally thousands of library and private book sales around the country all organized by location and date.  Best of all is their Sale Mail feature which will send you an email whenever a book sale is coming up in your area (defined by the number of miles from your zip code you’re willing to travel).  I just discovered the site today so can’t provide any feedback on how well Sale Mail works, but the site’s been around for more than 15 years now and was written up in Woman’s Day magazine a few years back so I’m guessing it works pretty well.

Jan 052009
Part of the Applied Anarchy Series - Previous in series         Next in series

As you probably already know, anarchists, libertarians, and freedom lovers are really big on books. In fact, the written word is still, by far, the greatest influence on the vast majority of converts. The problem with this is two-fold: 1) many of the books are dry and boring, and 2) the books aren’t exactly easy to “stumble across” if you’re not looking for them.  Freedom Book Club aims to solve both of these problems and you can help.

Each month four selections are posted at the Freedom Book Club home page.  All you need to do is swing by and vote for your favorite.   Then, during the first week of the next month, everyone interested will buy the selected book.  Voting for a selection does not obligate you to buy the book that is ultimately selected.

So, how does this help further the message of freedom?  It’s simple really.  Bestseller lists (New York Times, Amazon, etc) aren’t actually based on how many copies of a book get purchased.  rather, they’re based on how many books are purchased within a given time frame.  In other words, it’s velocity not volume.  By having hundreds (thousands?) of liberty lovers all purchase a specific book within the same week we can rocket these books up onto the best seller lists and get them much more attention from the general public.

Additionally, since each month’s book is selected by popular vote we can concentrate our efforts on works that are much more palatable to a general audience. For example…

Last month’s selection, Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression by Dr. Mary J. Ruwart, PhD sold out at Amazon.com not once, but twice. Of course, the Freedom Book Club has no way of knowing if they were the direct cause of such a rush on a 5 year old book, but their efforts certainly didn’t hurt! Healing Our World is, quite possibly, the ultimate primer on freedom. Written in an easygoing, friendly style it still manages to tear apart just about every possible reason one could have for remaining a statist despite government’s repeated failures. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend that you not only put it on your reading list, but that you put it at the very top.

But I’m getting sidetracked again. Just take a few minutes to check out Freedom Book Club.  Not only will you help spread the message of liberty to the masses, but you just might find a few books to enjoy and enlighten at the same time.

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Nov 242008

Do you remember me talking about how Amazon couldn’t sell 100,000 copies of The Tales of Beedle The Bard Collector’s Edition in a week?  Well, that wasmore than three months agao and guess what… it still hasn’t sold out!

Deepening that insult is the fact that Amazon has included this “must have”, “magical treasure” to their annual Customers Vote Super holiday savings event at a discount price of $50.00. When have you ever seen the exclusive marketer of a genuine, in demand collectible drop the price by a full 50% after pre-orders have begun and before release? Isn’t the idea supposed to be that this thing will “skyocket” in value?  It would seem that Amazon, the most knowledgable bookseller in the history of the world, made a huge mistake when determining the continuing marketability of the Harry Potter brand.

Seeing this book on the ‘ultra sale shelf’ reminded me that the latest film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was scheduled for release this past weekend.  Well, for some reason (running away from Twilight, perhaps?) the release date got pushed all the way back to next July despite the film having been completed and “in the can” several months ago.

Yes, things aren’t looking so hot for Eng;and’s favorite boy wizard…

Nov 062008
Part of the Friday Frugality Series - Previous in series         Next in series

I was looking for a “rare” horror collection containing a story by F. Paul Wilson this week when I stumbled across a great way to save serious cash. The book is called Heroic Fantasy and it contains (amongst other things) a short story titled Demonsong that is the first tale in F. Paul Wilson’s “Secret History Of The World”. I’m in the process of collecting everything Wilson has ever written so that I can review it for The F. Paul Wilson Project.  But wait, I’m getting off track here…

I googled the book’s ISBN and, of course, Amazon was the first result.  Amazon had four copies available.  Unfortunately their prices ranged from $31.50 to $350.00!  Google’s second result was a site called PaperBackSwap.com.  I’ve heard of various “online book exchange” sites befor, but never used one.  I tend to be a hoarder of books that I’ve read.  But I poked around this one a bit hoping I could swap something for Heroic Fantasy and save myself $30.00 or so.  Here’s how it works…

  • Register your email and snail addresses
  • Start listing books you have available for swap
  • (Optional) Once yo ulist 10 books you receive two free Book Credits (explained below)
  • When someone sees a book they want that you have the system sends you an email with the book name and the person’smailing address
  • You pack up the book and ship it off to them.
  • When they receive the book yu recieve one Book Credit
  • You can exchange your Book Credit for any book on the site

It’s a great system as your only expense is shipping off the books that people have requested from you.  When you request a book you pay absolutely nothing!  Considering even used paperbacks are pushing $4 and you can mail off a book media mail for less than $3 it’s quite a bit of savings.

Of course, I didn’t have 10 paperbacks I was ready to part with yet, so I poked around a bit more and discovered that you can buy Book Credits for only $3.45!  I purchased 3 credits and scooped up the ‘rare’ book I was seeking as well as a couple of other treasures.

If you’re a voracious (or even regular) reader and aren’t extremely picky about the condition of your books this site could be a savings godsend. They also have three sister sites SwapaCD, SwapaDVD and SwapaGoat which work on the same system.  So if you’re a music or movie junkie there’s something for you as well.

If you enjoyed this post, and/or found it useful, please take a moment to either Stumble it or add it to your favorite bookmarking site. Thanx!

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