Thursday, February 28, 2008

How Many Times Must I Buy This?

I'm heading to Florida for an extended 4-day weekend of relaxing, eating fish, and visiting Stephanie's parents. I don't have any reading material for the plane (or rather, nothing I'm willing to risk damage to by taking it on a plane) so this afternoon I headed downtown to the used bookstores on Broadway to see if I could find any Edgar Rice Burroughs books.

Of course I found plenty. I wasn't at Fahrenheit Books for more than three minutes before I had reading copies of books 4 through 8 of the Barsoom series in my hand. I was scanning the rest of the ERB shelf when it struck me: I had books 1 through 6 in a box somewhere in my garage. All I needed to do was open the right box and there was no need to buy most of those reading copies.

Not only that, but this would be the fifth time I bought this series of books. I read the set as a kid, then again in high school, then again in college, and once more a few years ago (these copies are the ones in the box somewhere). Why the hell couldn't I just keep the same copies and read them more than once? Why did I find myself buying the same books over and over again? Or perhaps the better question should be, just how many copies of these damn books must I buy?

I didn't have time to answer that. Instead, I hurried over to the rare paperback corner and found some fine Ballantine first print copies of books 6 (The Master Mind of Mars) and 9 (Swords of Mars). Now these were two books I had no problem buying: I've never had copies with these covers, they were in great condition, and they were first prints of these versions. Perfect.

When I noticed the 50% off sign in the window, I knew I wouldn't be digging around in my garage any time soon. With seven Edgar Rice Burroughs books in my hand, I headed for my car. Of course, before I made it there, I stopped by two other bookstores and found the first three books, too.

When I got home, I poked around online and found a whole bunch of other versions of these same Mars books: different publishers, different cover art, different cover pricing. There are at least 5 different covers from at least 3 different publishers (the UK versions might be the coolest), and I know I'll eventually have them all. I just need to do some research first. See, with books this old, there's no readily apparent marks to distinguish a copy as a first print. At least, not that I can tell.

Yep, it looks like I have plenty of research to do. Not to mention more books to buy. So I guess I have the answer to my question, after all: "at least a few more."

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