Sunday, June 15, 2014

Creative Loafing Tampa

Right when I think I am going to take a break, I am busier than ever!  So happy to share that my very first articles as a contributing writer for Creative Loafing Tampa appeared this week.  Thanks to my Editor In Chief David Warner and A&E Editor Julie Garisto for their support, and for giving me this wonderful opportunity to work as a writer!
I've been wearing this exact art on my belt buckle for three years!
First, was a literary food story I wrote for CL's Food Issue June 12 - 18 called Read, eat, ask for seconds where I discussed my love for butterbeer from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, cheese sandwiches & burgundy wine from James Joyce's Ulysses, high tea from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, apple pie from Jack Kerouac's On the Road, and yucatan shrimp from Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford novels and his restaurant down in Sanibel Island.  I also referenced Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol, Herman Melville's Moby Dick, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.
Here's all of the books used in the story.
The second and third pieces were in connection with my James Joyce Bloomsday event on June 16th at Wilson's Book World.  I had been reading Ulysses and tweeting about it with a variety of other James Joyce fans on Twitter, and it made sense for me to just write the stories.  The first was a simple 'Do This' promoting the event, and the second was on online piece basically consisting of a funny interview and discussion with Jeff Morris, owner of Wilson's Book World (and my co-host for the event) called Speaking of Bloomsday: an informal chat about James Joyce.
My Do This Bloomday listing where I incorporated
my two favorite lines from Ulysses.
Like most reporters, there were so many things that Jeff and I talked about that just didn't make it into the piece.  Below is the rest of the interview where we talk about the ethics of book buying, what booksellers look for, and why my 1st editions of Ulysses and Harry Potter books are worthless to him.  For more information about our Bloomsday event, click here.
Me with Wilson's owner Jeff Morris.
MM: I’m showing you my copy of Ulysses where someone has written in pencil on the inside cover $300, then crossed out and put $125.  Do you think this 3rd edition, 1st American edition is worth that much?

JM: No.  It’s the 3rd edition of the 1st printing is eh and your dust jacket is absolutely horrendous but at least it is present, but it is in horrendous condition.  If you want I can put that dust jacket…is it complete?  I can put that in a Mylar jacket, you could use it as a dust jacket. 

MM: As a librarian, I’ve seen lots of books being donated to the library and sometimes they smell like urine, so you don’t always want those.  So if someone brought this in to you, how much would you offer him or her for it?

JM: A couple of bucks.

MM: That’s it?

JM: Yeah, I would put it out with like twelve bucks on it.  You didn’t pay $125 for it, did you?

MM: No, it was a gift.  Apparently a crappy one.  But I’ve noticed people come in here and bringing you books and we are under this assumption that these are worth something, and they are but it is the words in the books that is worth the most, not the books themselves.  I was so excited to get this mostly because it was from a friend I care about that’s why t is priceless to me but in this condition as a book buyer…

JM: That would be good stock for the shelves.  In order to sell that, you would have to put the dust jacket together in a Mylar sleeve, and then you got to post it online with all of the other James Joyce stuff that is out there and hopefully it will sell.  Value is a very fleeting thing.

MM: What are you looking for?

JM: The better the condition, absolutely, and the dust jacket is like 70% of the value.

MM: Wait.  That’s important for people to know.  Explain that.

JM: It would be incomplete without it.  And it has to be the dust jacket from the edition.  For example, I had a copy of Ian Fleming’s Diamonds Are Forever, a first edition.  Without the dust jacket?  50 bucks?  With the dust jacket, even slightly beat up?  350.  There is a lot of difference in price.  You have to have the dust jacket.  Most of the time if something comes in, I won’t even look at it.  It’s just one of those things.

MM: What about the editions?  From First to Second to Third?

JM: First edition, first printing is what you want to strive for. 

MM: See, I’ve always looked for First Editions but now I know to look for First Editions, First Printings.

JM: Yeah and for something like Ulysses, you might as well go ahead and spend the $12,000 to get the really true First Edition. 

MM: What about signatures?

JM: Depends.  Is it signed or inscribed?  If it signed “Best Wishes, James Joyce.” Major bucks because he didn’t inscribe it to anybody.  “To Meredith, Thanks for being a great friend, James Joyce.”  Yeah it has his signature, but as a bookseller, unless I am selling it to someone named Meredith, or Meredith is a really famous person…

MM: She’s not.

JM: Because that adds profit.

MM: Well if James Joyce is writing it to me that means he is still alive so it is going to be worth a lot!

JM: Or it is a ghost.  As long as someone is living, don’t expect much.  But if you get a J.K. Rowling English First Edition of the Harry Potters and it is signed by her – she doesn’t do a whole lot.  Stephen King has backed off a whole lot.  The main thing you want to look for is dead guys.

MM: Great.  I have a First Edition Harry Potter but is an American Edition so now that’s not as cool.

JM: Nope.

MM: What if it is signed by the whole Harry Potter cast?

JM: Then it becomes more of a novelty item. 

MM: So if it is signed by Daniel Radcliffe…

JM: I’m not a movie guy so if you bring in a copy signed by Harry Radcliffe, I wouldn’t really care.

MM: It's Daniel Radcliffe who plays Harry Potter…well I guess we aren’t doing a Harry Potter event anytime soon!  So for anybody out there that wants to sell you books, what are you looking for?

JM: I have a list on my website of the topics we are searching for and I am usually here from 11 – 4 and I prefer for them to just pull up out front.  It’s a lot easier than having them carry boxes back and forth.  Another thing I just don’t understand that 80% of people all do, is when I open the box, they proceed to tell me what they have.  “I’ve got biographies over here, and this over here.”  It’s like opening up the hood to your car and telling your mechanic where the carburetor is.  When I go out to a car and open the box, I know within seconds what you have and pretty much what I wanted.

There are two types of people.  There are the ones that just want to get books out there so they can find a good home.  Then there are the people that think “everything I have is gold” and they don’t believe you.  I am a member of the Florida Antiquarian Book Seller Organization, we subscribe to a code of ethics, I’m not going to blow any smoke up your skirt and the worst thing people can do is tell me “you know I looked these books up on the internet.”  I don’t care if I want those books so bad that I will then have to wait, I’m probably going to pass just because I know that person has got an unreasonable expectation in their mind of what these things are worth and I’m not the guy that is going to talk them out of it.  I haven’t got the time.

MM: There you have it, folks.  Our books are pretty much worthless – unless we are READING them!!!!
Jeff repaired my edition of Ulysses
so I can use it at our Bloomsday event!