Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Mirabelle Cookbook by Marco Pierre White.

The Mirabelle Cookbook by Marco Pierre White.  Hardcover book published 1999. 

In my youthful salad days of blogging (July this year), I wrote about Marco’s book, Canteen Cuisine.  Interestingly I only recently sold this book at a mark down price to someone in the U.S..  I write interestingly as firstly the book didn’t sell within Australia and secondly for a lot less than the current www value.  Since originally writing about Mr. White all those years ago (July this year), I have found another title by Marco Pierre entitled “The Mirabelle Cookbook”.  The Mirabelle (it's a restaurant) was purchased by Whitey in 1998 and he maintained its huge reputation and standing in the London dining world… a quick check through Google and I find that MPW has since sold up and moved on.  (I can sense your all out there thinking to yourselves “yeah, yeah, get to the point”… its up next).  What I think is interesting about this book, is the difficulty I am having in selling any books by this guy who is considered to be one of the most influential chefs in the world.  This book like Canteen also didn’t sell when I first listed it on ebay.  The guy has a reputation, he has attitude, he has recipes… he also has a very low profile here in Australia which is where I sell most of my books.  Some of you may argue that he is well known, but I tell you, he ain’t Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson (one day I will write about this scary woman… I promise) or Peter Russell Clarke.  Ask your neighbour (Australia only) if they’ve ever heard of Marco and I bet you that the majority of them will say “Who?”.  So I think the problem here isn’t the book, it’s the location of the book.  If people don’t know what it is, they ain’t gonna buy it.  So I’ve come to the conclusion that like a fine wine, this book needs to sit for a while and mature… so I’ve cellared M. Pierre and he’s sitting nicely on the shelf gaining some age and Aussie popularity… still for sale though… but now here  Not gathering dust… just maturing.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

From Existence to God: A contemporary Philosophical Argument

From Existence to God: A contemporary Philosophical Argument by Barry Miller.  Hardcover book published 1992.

Faith is a funny thing and I don’t really want to get into a philosophical argument about it… particularly anything contemporary.  My faith is when i put my trust in the information i have and ride the roller coaster even though there is the chance that there will be a terrible accident… I have faith that I will complete the ride and not die in a screaming mess of rollercoaster bits and human flesh.  Another good and totally unrelated example, is not to eat too much fatty food as its bad for you… or don’t go too fast on the freeway as you’ll get a speeding ticket… these are all things that I believe to be true and I have faith in the information available… maybe not 100% faith but from the evidence I reckon these things are close to “truths”.  This book is a prime example of a time to question faith.

When I bought this book, as per usual, I did a quick www search of my regular reference points and sources of information, and nearly gasped out loud (nearly).  There was only one listing of this title and it was priced at over $2,000 (… the exact figure escapes me, trust me though it was over 2 grand).  I usually have faith in this sort of www information and price items accordingly, keeping in mind a few other realistic factors (condition, topicality, pure outrageousness of the www price etc etc).  Now, the rarity of a book comes down to a lot of unknown and varied factors as well as faith.  I read that something is rare and… well it’s probably rare (please note the use of the word “probably” this is not a definite).  In this instance only 1 listing worldwide is a good indicator that it is more than likely a rare item.  To be completely honest, my faith in this information is never 100%, but it tends to be pretty high.  $2,000…???  My faith quickly wavered when I considered the book in hand, I could never imagine selling this title (…particularly this title) for that much money.  No one has that much faith… or at least I don’t think they do.

So a few weeks later I’m ready to put this little gem on the market and low and behold there’s now a copy on the www for about $250.  Now I don’t know about you, but I reckon this is a very large price decrease in just a few weeks… the other amazing piece of information is the number of copies now for sale.  As I write this blog entry there are 7 copies listed on bookfinder and none of them are over $418.37.  So where did the over $2,000 price tag come from and what happened  to it?  Did the book sell or did the seller loose faith?

If there is only one of something… its rare.  There is only the one and realistically a seller can ask whatever they want for it… even $2,000.  My theory is that someone (bookseller) has found that they had the only copy of this book for sale at a particular time and priced it at what they considered a good price… they must have had a lot of faith… $2,000 worth of faith… although the truth is that I don’t know whether they sold it at that price or not… my gut feeling is that they didn’t and have now repriced the book appropriately.  Personally I’d be more than happy with just 250 bucks in my pocket.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


So you half read a book and decide that no, its not for you… or you decide that you have the information you need and no longer need to churn through the rest of it.  You may misplace a book, loose momentum and then decide to move it along… or you mean to one day get back to a book and grow old before you do. For whatever reason half read books often end up here at the house of Huc & Gabet.  Now half read means that these books often have a bookmark still in place, a bit like a time capsule at the page where someone for some reason stopped. The following images are a selection of bookmarks that I have found in the last 12 months.  Some are purpose built, most are whatever is close at hand when required… I think some of these might be both.  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What ever happened to...

My Graham Greene's

Well my Graham Greene’s, they never sold.
Despite the story that I told.
With all four books I guess I knew,
They had no chance a sale to do.  
Popular with certain sectors,
But of no interest to collectors.
These four books, yes they were old,
Sit in a box and remain unsold.

I guess I’d hoped for the sale
Hardcover should never fail
as Graham Greene’s sell a lot.
Second hand on ebay, not.

As this story begins to end
I just want to tell you my friend
A Graham Greene if you want to grab it
Clunes Booktown, Huc & Gabet.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Home before daylight: My life on the road with The Grateful Dead by Steve Parish.

Home before daylight: My life on the road with The Grateful Dead by Steve Parish with Joe Layden.  Hardcover book published 2004.

Rock/Music biographies… its hard to know where to begin.  OK, from my experience they are very hard to sell on line, no matter who or what they are.  A few years ago I found a paperback Keith Moon biography which I remember selling for a lot more than I expected.  Unfortunately I also remember the many other Rock bios that I have tried selling to no avail.  Any rock biography now has to be something a little out of the ordinary for me to even attempt to sell it on line.  I picked up this book as firstly, it is a hardcover, secondly, it is about the Grateful Dead (fanatical following) and thirdly, its in great condition (no pun intended).  I also figured that here in Australia where I do most of my business, this title would be quiet rare … which a quick search proves to be true (only a few copies for sale).  Here’s the problem though, the book is uncommon due to the fact that here in Australia the “Dead” are not as popular as they are overseas (mainly the U.S.).  I have never knowingly met an Australian “Deadhead” (, although they more than likely do exist.  My qualification for this observation is that during the many years that I worked in music retail here is Australia, I only very rarely got asked for the Grateful Dead… possibly as few as 3 times in the approximate 10 years… and these people seemed very normal and were probably not “Deadheads” (but I could be wrong… also, apologies to any Deadheads reading this, I don’t mean to offend).  Unfortunately I don’t have the email or contact details of the 3 people that asked me, so I can’t let them know about this book.  I’m hoping that despite being fans of the “Dead” these 3 people are not dead and are alive enough to bid on ebay… 

My final comment about this book has to do with the dust jacket artwork.  The front cover picture (as shown) is obviously of Gerry Garcia.  What we don't see is the rest of the photo, which is comprised of the author on the back and his hand meeting Jerry's in the middle of the spine as he is passing a funny smelling cigarette... at least i assume its funny smelling.  So when this book sits on the shelf all you see is the 2 hands passing.... whatever it is... i guess there's a message there...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

London the Biography by Peter Ackroyd

London the Biography by Peter Ackroyd. Hardcover book published 2000.

This is a lovely looking book written by the well known and prolific author Peter Ackroyd.  It looks great and:
  1. Its quite thick (authoritive?)
  2. Its got some pictures (but not too many)
  3. Looks great on the shelf (nice picture on the spine)
  4. It’s on a popular subject (…at least I think London is popular).
There is something about this book that bothers me.  The author (or publisher) has decided the book isn’t a history, it’s a biography and indeed, besides the title, the publishers blurb indicates as much.  If I were looking for a book about London, I doubt very much I would ever consider looking for a “biography”.  Anyone (or me) looking for a “history” of London who stumbles on this book… a “biography”… will possibly become as confused as I am.  I could do a quick search of the www and bore you with a definition of “biography” and “history”… but I/we have a fair idea that a “biography” is about a person and “history” is about a thing or event (…is this right?... and thinking about it even more I’m starting to get very confused).  So how can a prospective buyer decide whether this is a “biography” or a “history”? Lets look at what the publisher says:

“Ackroyd portrays London from the time of the Druids to the beginning of the twenty-first century, noting magnificence in both epochs, but this is not a chronological record. There are chapters on the history of silence and the history of light, the history of childhood and the history of suicide, the history of Cockney speech and the history of drink. Anecdotal, brilliant and wonderfully entertaining, LONDON is animated by Ackroyd’s concern for the close relationship between the present and the past as well as by what he describes as the peculiar ‘echoic’ quality of London, whereby its texture and history actively affect the lives and personalities of its citizens.”

Now I’m really confused.  This section of the publishers blurb uses the word “History” 7 times and this all comes straight after saying it’s not a history.  Well to me if it looks like a history, smells like a history and is described by the publisher as a history…. IT’S A HISTORY.  So does this help sell the book?  Well I’m sitting here quietly considering this book and taking my time about it and I’m confused.  If I was window shopping (this includes shopping on the www) and scanning briefly at titles and blurbs I think I would pass on this one. 

The book looks great and probably is a great read, but this confusing title and blurb has left me a little shaken.  I can’t imagine anyone out there being tempted to buy this book without actually seeing it in front of them and scanning through the text.  Indeed I have already listed this once on ebay to no avail… and here I am writing about this book… and writing that I wouldn’t buy it…??? …I think I’m in trouble.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mysteries of the Bass Strait Triangle.

Mysteries of the Bass Strait Triangle by Jack Loney.  Paperback book published 1993.

Jack Loney has written many books about shipwrecks and similar disasters of a maritime nature.  I’ve sold a few of his books over the years and from what I can gather he seems to be quite knowledgeable and keen on sharing his passion for disaster.  So what’s with the “Bass Strait Triangle”?  The publishers blurb on the back cover acknowledges that Jack conceived the idea of this mysterious and bewildering phenomenon “based around tales of mystery and terror”.  A quick scan of the rest of blurb and I see the words “sea monsters” and “UFO’s”… oh yeah, I bet you didn’t even realize that off the coast of Victoria the ocean is teeming with monsters, Aliens (could be the same thing) and a lost Prime Minister (not an Alien, but possibly a Chinese spy).  Yep, Scully and Mulder would hyperventilate if they knew about all these unsolved mysteries…

So what Jack does is bundle his knowledgeable research into this book and with some creative rejigging, rejigs the whole thing into this Bass Strait Triangle thing.  I just did a quick Wiki search to see if this particular triangle (how convenient that it is a triangle… you know… like the Bermuda thingy) has stood the test of time and it has.  The Bass Strait Triangle gets a mention and one of the references mentioned in the article is this book.  Jack has signed this particular copy and there is a rather mysterious photograph of Mr Loney on the back cover.  Check out the shades, the camera and the rather serious look… Jack means business.  

What I need now is to be able to have the X files theme music playing over the top of this blog (maybe you can just imagine it).  So Jack’s book is a bit of a crossover title.  We have ship and plane wrecks and disappearances, history and paranormal activity bundled together is a slim 104 page volume.  The truth is out there… and if you have trouble finding it, it might be in this book.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Needleweaving... Easy as Embroidery

Needleweaving... Easy as Embroidery by Esther Warner Dendal.  Hardcover book published 1972.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.  Hardcover book published by Charles Scribner's Sons 1940.

When I look at a book like this one for the first time, there are certain things I want to know… OK, there is ONE thing I want to know. Is this a first edition?  A quick look at Wikipedia shows me that the book was first published in 1940 and was published by Charles Scribner's Sons… so far I’m winning, but your know Wiki is good for that quick piece of info… but I need something a little more solid than Wikipedia.  This is a great website for just this sort of verification (First Edition Points) and I find out:
“The first edition has an "A" on the copyright page. However, there is some debate over whether the Scribner's seal should also be present on the copyright page. Other Scribner's books published around the same time such as To Have and Have Not, The Yearling, The Dark Horse, The Last Tycoon, and Cross Creek all have both the "A" and the seal. On the other hand we have not seen or heard about a copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls with both.”
So I check Ernie’s book and it has an “A” and indeed the photo they have on First Edition Points of the verso of the title page corresponds to what I have… except for the seal.  So from this information I am not clear as to whether this is a first or not. This problematic issue is… well… a problem.  There are those unscrupulous booksellers out there who would happily sell this book as a first edition with all the fire works and pricing that go with this sort of transaction.  Personally, I really don’t like to advertise an item as a first, if I can’t confirm it, even if I think it is a first.  Still, it’s a nice book, a little worn, but sits nicely on the shelf… maybe my shelf.  The question if it doesn’t sell, is whether to have or have not?

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Offal (The Good Cook / Techniques and Recipes series).  Hardcover book published by Time Life.

Sometimes it’s important to tackle the serious topics in life (no, not more Stuff on Cats) and today I want to write about offal. Traumatised as a child (thanks mum) with plates of liver and onions, I am still unable to even begin to consider offal as sustenance.  It is over 30 years since I last ate liver (or kidney) and I still shudder at the thought.  There are those of you who enjoy a plate of offal and it seems that over recent years offal has made a bit of a culinary comeback.  This is something beyond my personal understanding and taste.  So why am I writing about offal….?

I couldn’t believe my luck when I came across a large pile of Time Life “The Good Cook” books (not to be confused with the Time Life “Foods of the World” books).  Earlier this year I ebayed 11 titles of this series as a set and failed to make the sale.  I then found an extra title, upped it to 12 and got multiple bids.  After some consultation with some other booksellers, the plausible theory as to why this is, is that people will buy a set of 12 (a dozen) but 11 isn’t a set… even if there is a total of 28 volumes in the set, 11 seems wrong.  Anyway, I have been collecting a few odd volumes to one day make up another set and now I can easily make 12 with the titles I found.  Now here’s the interesting part, some of the individual volumes are worth $$$.  These were titles that were less popular at the time and people opted not to buy them, Offal being a prime example and this is one of the titles that I recently acquired.  So I am going to list this volume on ebay separately to the 12 volumes.  There are 3 ways of looking at this:

  1. As this volume is less common, a lot more people will be missing it from their collections/sets.  Therefore they probably don’t want to buy 12 volumes when they only need the 1.
  2. Someone may just want to buy a cookbook about offal and have no interest in the series.
  3. I can get more money for this book if I list it separately… and lets face it, that’s why I sell books.

So I do have an appreciation of Offal, maybe not in the same way I have an appreciation for James Joyce who once wrote:
"Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine." 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Penthesilea by Heinrich von Kleist, pictures by Maurice Sendak.

Penthesilea by Heinrich von Kleist, pictures by Maurice Sendak, translated by Joel Agee.  Hardcover published 1998 (first edition).

Sometimes I stumble on something that I think is VERY special...  “Heinrich Von Kleist was virtually forgotten until the beginning of ” the 20th century, “when Rilke, Kafka and Thomas Mann hailed him as a master of German prose and European dramatic literature”… but lets be honest, what is really interesting about this book is not the author, it’s the illustrator.  Maurice Sendak is well known… ok maybe “super” well known, for his illustrations and the writing of childrens books.  I didn’t even realize that he had done any adult illustration, but here they are in all their glory.  This is the sort of book that catches the eye and interest as its something a little out of the ordinary.

Its value isn’t enormous, $15 to $30 on Abe, which is still a nice price.  Anyway I was getting this book ready for sale and began writing a description.  I like to be detailed in my descriptions (I think I’ve written about this before), as I don’t want any buyer to be disappointed with some undeclared wear, so everything I notice gets mentioned…. creases, marks, gift inscriptions, signed copies…. What?  Its signed?  Maurice Sendak signed this book? Yes. First thing I do is check one of the many signature/autograph websites to confirm that it is his signature and yep it’s him. 

I was (am) truly flabbergasted.  The guy who created Max signed this book.  So I go back to Abe and check the value of a signed copy.  If the translator had of signed it, it would be worth $44 (no hard feelings buddy, but you aint Maurice)… Maurice signs it and its listed at $250.  I need to stumble more often.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Art of Sandcastling

The Art of Sandcastling by Ted Siebert.  Paperback book.

This book looks at the art/sport of Sandcastling, that is, the making of sand castles.  But not just any sandcastles, this is competitive sandcastling on a grand competitive scale.  Forget about the small plastic bucket with the tiny plastic shovel, this is the real deal, the sort of thing you train all year for and then conquer the beach with those practiced sand crafts… this is sport and art shoveled and mixed in the bucket and turned upside down.  I’ll also mention that this seems to be the sport of adults… there are only a few examples of younger sandcastlers work in this book.  This is no game or casual summer hobby.  There are many fine black and white photographs and the last third looks at the details of when and where competitions take place… very handy information.  Unfortunately for any Australian buyers the book is from the United States so the details are a little obsolete, but still if you were serious you would train hard, perfect your skills, pack your swimming gear (not sure why, as by the looks of it you wont get much time in the water)… and your shovel, fly to the US and then attach yourself to the circuit and compete your way around the country… what a great way to travel, see the country (and sand) and meet like minded people. 

Here in Australia, we have a considerable amount of coastline and beach (and sand), and besides the professional sandcastler in the United States, I reckon this book could be of interest to anyone, anywhere who spends their summers at the beach… dreaming of conquering the sand castle universe.  This book could be the inspiration for Australia’s next major sporting hero.  You know, the Australian Cricket team seems to be at a bit of a low point at the moment… a bucket and shovel may be the answer in more ways than one.