It’s funny, when I got home for some reason I was a bit disappointed. Unlike previous years I didn’t bag a ton of science fiction story collections and I didn’t find a really singular, amazing book like The Codebreakers, or one of Asimov’s Opus books, or the Robotech novel set I’ve found in previous years.
However, tonight I was unpacking the books I bought and I realized I was totally wrong: This was a fantastic haul!
What you see here cost me a total of $11.20. $5.20 for the books and $6 for the DVDs. I think two of these books might have also come from a trip to Goodwill later that day, but I can’t remember for sure which ones. I think it was two of the hardbacks.
At the book sale the science section is close to the entrance so the first thing I found was Thomas Khun’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, a classic book about the development of science that I’ve heard a lot about but never actually read.
From there I cruised to the science fiction section and spotted a some good Asimov stuff. When I was there, near the end of the second day there was what I think was an entire set of the Foundation series (the books from the 50s and the books we wrote later). I’ve recently gotten into finding older versions of books I already own so I picked up the first three books. The two Asimov short story collections are two that I don’t think I’ve seen before.
Nearby was the graphic novel/comics section, which by that part of the day was almost empty. However, I found the Doonesbury Twenty-Five Years collection which will go nicely next to my Bloom County and Calvin & Hobbes collections. I’m not a great fan of Doonesbury today but looking through the collection it had a great biting vitality in the 70s and 80s.
The room at Cuyahoga Falls Library where the sale is held is very cramped on sale day. The low ceiling, poor lighting, narrow aisles, and close quarters have in previous years made me want to leave as soon as I looked over the SF section. This year though, we came at about 2:00PM which is before the mad dash for the bag sale begins and the crowds were somewhat more manageable. This left me free to look over other sections at my leisure so I spent some serious time at the Art section, which is where I found A History of Graphic Design, American Architecture 1860-1976, and Seven Days in the Art World. I’m most excited about A History of Graphic Design which is apparently an authoritative overview of graphic design. Graphic design is one of those subjects I don’t know much about, but it appeals to me on aesthetic grounds. That book is just fantastic to look at.
The real treat though, was in the room where they sell more “expensive” (i.e. greater or equal to $1) items where I found almost all of Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister which as a classic piece of 1980s British TV comedy, is dear to my heart. Disc one of Yes, Minister is missing but I’m still immensely pleased. It was astonishing to find such great British TV sitting there for $1 per disc.
The appeal of the Library Sale is the possibility that you can pick up things for cheap that ordinarily would be very expensive. The graphic design book and the Yes, Minister sets certainly fulfilled that promise for me.
I think this was my fourth or fifth Friends of the Library Sale and this go-round has convinced me even more that the people who contribute books have fantastic taste. The sale is a jewel and I’m looking forward to the Fall sale in November.
After the massive post on Windows/386 last week I promised a return to regular service the following week. Unfortunately I caught a stomach bug this week and by the time I recovered I didn’t have time to come up with a full post. So instead, here’s a post of “odds and ends”, neat things that might not make it into a full length post.
After last week’s post Twitter user (and all around fascinating dude) @scottcarson1957 recommended that I read Fire in the Valley by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine, about the early years of the personal computer from about 1975 to 1984 when the book was written. I ordered a copy from AbeBooks and it arrived Saturday morning. This copy looks like it came out of a public school library, which has a neat kind of charm. I believe Fire in the Valley was the basis for the awesome TNT movie Pirates of Silicon Valley, a movie I adore.
On Saturday I was delighted to feel well enough to go to the Friends of the Cuyahoga Falls Library book sale where in the past I’ve had really great luck finding cool sci-fi books for peanuts. Isaac Asimov is always well represented. The Friends of the Library organization has this large room in the basement of the Cuyahoga Falls Library where they collect books for sale and twice per year they let the public come in and buy them at very low prices. This time we got there after 3PM, which is when they start doing their “fit as many books as you can into a bag for $3” sale. The selection was still very good for the sale being so close to the end. As I made my way to the sci-fi section I passed the history and war sections and spotted a copy of The Codebreakers by David Kahn, published in 1967 (this copy is a Fourth Edition from 1968).
I remembered there was something special about this book and that for some reason it was difficult to get so I immediately grabbed it and put it into my bag.
When I read Crypto I thought “gee, I should own a copy of the The Codebreakers” but then I looked up the book…It’s not that it’s difficult to get it’s that for some reason it’s bloody expensive! A new copy basically costs $45 whether you want the hardcover or the eBook. A $45 eBook! A used copy of the hardcover is still over $20! I don’t care how important a book is, that’s highway robbery.
So, I’m very glad I picked up a copy of The Codebreakers as part of my $3 bag of books.
Also in my bag of books where these three Asimov books:
Pebble in the Sky is the first of the classic novels he wrote early in his career, but those two other books are collections of science fact writing he also did. It’s oddly not that well known that Asimov was a terrifically prolific fact writer. There was a series of collections of his science fact articles from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction published under the Discus imprint by Avon Books in the 1970s and From Earth to Heaven and Of Time, Space, and Other Things are the seventh and eighth in the series I have found.
Another thing I bought at the Friends of the Library Sale was this copy of Caddyshack on CED:
CED, you may recall, was the Capacitance Electronic Disc System, RCA’s entry into the early-1980s home video format war that also brought us VHS, Beta, and LaserDisc. Of the various losers of that war, CED was probably the most sad loser.
VHS, of course won. Beta gave the world slightly better video quality and was still recordable. LaserDisc was a very adaptable format that soldered on until the advent of DVD as the format with the highest quality analog video. CED basically had no advantages. It was not recordable but did not have better video quality as LaserDisc did. It used a needle that had to physically touch the surface of the disc so over-time the video quality of a disc would degrade.
The discs are held in the bulky plastic caddy you see in the photo. You would insert the caddy into the player and the player would sort of eat the disc while you removed the caddy.
At the moment I do not own a CED player.
The reason I bought this CED is that I sort of collect examples of forgotten video formats:
Here you see Caddyshack on CED, Blade Runner on LaserDisc, The Pink Panther on Video CD, Jumpin’ Jack Flash on Beta, Being John Malkovich on HD DVD, and Deep Impact on DIVX (full-frame DIVX for maximum awfulness).
The practical reason for owning these things is if I happen to find a player at a thrift store I want to already own a test article. The silly reason is that I just think it’s hilarious.