Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Way of the Book

There's a new book metasearch site on the Web: ViaLibri, Resources for Bibliophiles.

You have the option of searching all bookselling sites, or just the ones you check off, and away you go. One of the nicer features is the ability to weed out unwanted listings. You know what I mean -- you're looking for an original copy of, say, John Leland's Divine Authority of the Old and New Testament Asserted, and a search brings up a slew of print-on-demand listings. Well, now you can find what you're really looking for without having to puzzle out the correct combination of keywords. Neato!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New Auction on eBay

It's finally here! My new auctions are listed on eBay and ready for bidding. Unfortunately for some, the Old Theology Quarterly #25 has sold already through "Buy It Now." The Millennial Dawn envelope and the Golden Age magazines are still in play, though.

I've included some postcards from Oberammergau, vintage 1922. One is signed by one of the actors. There's a mix of black and white and color cards, all in very good condition.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Where There's Smoke ...

You've won that book you've been searching for on eBay. You shiver in anticipation when the package finally arrives. Ripping it open, you can see the book is everything you hoped it would be, except ... What's that smell?

You employ the sniff test, and discover that the poor volume has been subjected to the smoke of a thousand cigarettes. Every molecule of paper has bound with one of Chesterfield's™.

What to do? You don't want to return the book, but you can't abide handling something that smells like an ashtray.

There are different solutions to this problem, but one of the easiest and least expensive involves the following materials:

  • A large box of baking soda
  • A "refrigerator box" of same
  • Two rectangular plastic storage containers into which the book(s) will fit without touching the sides, one smaller than the other
  • A lid to fit the larger box -- one that will provide an airtight seal.
  • Time

1. Open the large box of baking soda, and spread some in the bottom of the larger container; about a 1/2 inch to an inch (2.5 to 4 cm) deep will do.

2. Place the smaller container on top of the baking soda.

3. Place the book(s) inside the smaller container.

4. If there is room, you may place a refrigerator box of baking soda in with the books (these boxes have a peel-away piece of cardboard that reveals a thin fabric; it allows the baking soda to absorb odors without spilling into the box).

5. Place the lid on the larger box and seal tightly.

6. Wait 4 to 6 weeks; check the odor of the book(s) periodically and replace the baking soda as needed.

This method's chief advantage is its cost-effectiveness. While it may not remove all the offensive odors, it will certainly mitigate them. Airing the book on your own smoke-free shelves after this treatment will also help.

Friday, October 3, 2008

L-Space and Its Subsets

Terry Pratchett has done the hard calculations and given us his theory of "L-Space", that phenomenon known to all frequenters of libraries and used bookstores:

Even big collections of ordinary books distort space and time, as can readily be proved by anyone who has been around a really old-fashioned second-hand bookshop, one of those that has more staircases than storeys and those rows of shelves that end in little doors that are surely too small for a full sized human to enter.

Read more over at