Thursday, July 11, 2013

Letters From Lovecraft

 Sometimes you just get lucky. Way back, many years ago, oh best beloved, when I was first getting into the work of H.P. Lovecraft, my friend Cliff loaned me volumes one through five of the Arkham House Selected Letters of H.P. Lovecraft. I enjoyed reading them so much that I wanted to get my own copies of the books.
   Now at that time, Arkham House was still active as a publisher, but they didn't seem terribly interested in selling books. I got their phone number somehow and when I called I got an answering machine. A deep voice intoned, "You have reached Arkham House Publishing. If you would like to receive a catalog of books leave a message with your mailing address."
   That's it. No menu. No way to reach a human being. If you want a catalog we'll send you one. Now go away.
   So I left a message and a couple of weeks later, I received a catalog. There wasn't a ton of stuff in it and they only stocked volumes three, four, and five of Lovecraft's letters. Still I ordered them. That left me short two volumes, and in those pre-Amazon, pre-Internet days my only chance at getting those other two volumes was to find them at a bookstore or convention. No luck there.
   Jump forward a few years and now I'm seeing copies of the two books on Ebay, Amazon, ABEbooks, and what have you. Problem is no one has a decent copy of volume one for under a hundred bucks and a good copy usually runs upwards of two hundred. I wasn't really willing to pay that much so I bided my time and checked for the book now and again. Last week someone posted a first edition copy of volume one on Ebay for 99 cents. It wasn't a Buy It Now listing, so I figured it would soon bid up into the same range as the other copies.
   So I watched it for the four days it was listed and only one person bid, so it was holding a 99 cents. On the final day I put in a bid, figuring that someone would outbid me at the last instant, but no one else ever bid. The first person had apparently bid six bucks or so, so the final sale price dollars and nineteen cents.
   The book arrived and it's a very good copy. Tight spine. White pages. The only problem with it was a tear in the dust jacket and the seller had clearly identified that. I'm okay with a tear in the dust jacket at that price.
   Anyway, now I just need a copy of volume two. That one goes for less than volume one, but still runs from $60 to $100, so I think I'll keep watching. Doubt I'll find another deal like volume one, but you never know.


JasonZavoda said...

I was hoping you were going to say that they made these into ebooks for the kindle.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

That would be great, wouldn't it? I'd buy 'em again.

Paul R. McNamee said...

I have a friend who collects Lovecraft and he also is missing a volume or two.

These would be the perfect sort of document to receive the e'reader treatment.

REH's letters, too.