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More Inconsistent, Baffling Pricing at HPB

It’s amazing to me the seeming “randomness” of books’ pricing at Half-Price Booksespecially on graphic novels/comics!

Take two different copies of the first printing of 1993’s The Death of Superman.

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Two copies, neither in great condition. One is–as would be EXPECTED for a place calling itself Half-Price Books–half of the $5 cover price. It’s actually a “newsstand” edition, given the bar code (as opposed to the Direct Market edition that had the “bleeding S”). Yet the newsstand one is in better condition at less than half the price of the more battered copy!

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The date on the price stickers suggests that at least these were bought a couple weeks apart…though that also suggests to me (given the condition and these BOTH being First Printing editions) that two different people may have handled the pricing. (That, or it goes to show how ridiculously INCONSISTENT they are!)

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I’d gotten the two reversed to hold and better show the damage to the more expensive copy–a bent spine/corner in particular.

Two different copies of the same book–one that’s not particularly “rare,” as I often see at least one (if not multiple or several multiples) at any HPB I go to. The book has been “in print” in one format or another for nearly a quarter-century–it eventually went from $4.95 cover price a $9.95/9 edition where they changed to the more iconic image lifted from Superman #75 itself. That one (I believe) went through a couple editions, and then just last year, the entire Death/Return saga was repackaged into a 5-volume set (including post-saga Doomsday stuff).

I’m even more flabbergasted at the pricing given the condition of the books. It’s one thing if something is in pristine/new condition…but when it’s old, beaten/battered, obviously seen better days…something MIGHT BE a “First Edition” or first print, but what, exactly, about that qualifies it as an exception?

I overheard at a an HPB location on the day of their 50%-off-one-item coupon day an employee commenting in response to a customer remarking on the crowd that a lot of folks were in getting “collectible” stuff that’s sat around for MONTHS.

Or, in my interpretation…stuff’s priced too high for folks to justify, but cut that price in half, and they’ll flock to the store!

As I’ve said numerous times in the past…if they want to be a boutique specialty shop, fine…but I wish they would at LEAST separate out their precious “out of print” and “collectible” stock and KEEP to their name for the general everyday stock.

End rant.

Showing Off the Shelves: Batman (December 2016)

I’ve been getting newer stuff worked in and generally re-situating my shelves, leading to showing off the current configuration.

Lagging a bit behind my Superman collection, which is well onto its third shelf, my Batman collection still has a little way to go to fill its second shelf and creep onto its third.

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While The Dark Knight Returns is more of an "ending" to the story (or should’ve been, but Strikes Again and III are another subject/post entirely) I ended up starting the shelf off with it–I have the story in numerous editions, much like other favorites The Death of Superman and Kingdom Come.

Then, following what I did with the Superman stuff, I lead with the "survey" collections spanning the years, then try to approximate rough chronological order from the Silver Age into modern times. The Batman run seems a lot more solidly event-oriented, with the bulk of the "inches" on the shelf being the event collections.

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Following the event stuff, I ease a bit into the New 52 era, and then back out into broad stuff. Even as I type this, it crosses my mind that the Batman Arkham volumes actually belong up in the earlier volumes as ‘survey’ books that are not collecting any singular story but a broad range of issues featuring a particular character.

The glaring gaps in my Batman collection are all the more glaring compared to Superman; but that’s not terribly surprising, as I’ve been a much more solid Superman fan than Batman over the years. No great dislike of the character; just a far deeper like of Superman.

The few hardcovers that I have are largely glaring stick-outs to me, such that I’d be somewhat interested in trying to replace them with paperbacks; particularly Heart of Hush and Batman: R.I.P. I’d ordered Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader at the same time as the Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow counterpart, so am somewhat hesitant to replace one, as they tie together in my mind; perhaps someday I’ll replace ’em both.

It’s simply astounding to consider the vast library of Bat-stuff out there…I have a relatively large collection here, but I swear I don’t have a fraction of what’s (been) available!

Showing Off the Shelves: TMNT (November 2016)

I’m showing off the latest configurations of "sub collections" on my shelves.

Here, today, are my TMNT and Usagi stuff. While not officially tied together, I’ve long associated Usagi Yojimbo with the TMNT stuff; and so they fit together well on a shelf. Though I’m basically maxed-out on this shelf now, so the Usagi stuff might end up getting moved to fit elsewhere before too long.

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I’d jumped on the TMNT Ultimate Edition line as soon as it started, and "kept up" with it, including the surprise/addition of the 6th volume. Then I have the 1First graphic novel series, collecting the early Mirage stuff in color the first time. These were my initial introduction to the original/Mirage version of the characters, having had my start with the classic cartoon and the Archie-published TMNT Adventures.

After those we have stuff from Mirage itself over the years–first some of the generic collected volumes; then a bunch of the mid-2000s collected volumes up to the cgi-TMNT film just before Laird sold the property.

From there, the Archie edition of the original TMNT Adventures mini, collected; along with 4 of the 6 TMNT Classics Digest that reprinted the earlier TMNT Adventures issues; and then the current run of IDW‘s volumes collecting the TMNT Adventures run. From there, some other versions of the TMNT Adventures collections, the IDW TMNT hardcover, the 30th Anniversary Special and the 2012 & 2014 Annuals.

Finally, the first 4 Usagi Yojimbo mega-collections from Dark Horse.

I’d had a number of the earlier IDW TPBs of their TMNT series; but stopped with those as soon as I found out about the oversized hardcovers–and though I’m a couple volumes behind, my aim is to use THOSE for my "double-dipping" on the series. They’re the far better value, with about 3 paperbacks’ contents for about/slightly over the cost of 2.

I had at one point figured I’d be getting some of the various other large hardcovers IDW has been putting out for the various TMNT stuff…but they’re all different dimensions, and just don’t look like they go together that well, and thus are quite unattractive to me as a group of books.

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Then, of course, there are the TMNT toys. While this is not the entirety of my TMNT toys collection…it is a full shelf’s worth, laid out for display at present.

BREAKING: #Amazon Discovers Boxes Still Legal for Shipping!

I heard footsteps and the sound of something being dropped by the front door. Dreading what I might find when I looked, I checked anyway. I was expecting a book I’d pre-ordered months ago but figured this would be another fight with ’em, trying to get something that is minimally damaged at best.

After all, for ages now, Amazon‘s had this flat-out refusal to ship books with any sort of care or pretense of care! I was wondering if my book might be in just a bubble mailer, or one of those crappy "cardboard envelopes" and picturing the various damages the book’s suffered.

Imagine my genuine shock and "holy $#*^!" moment when I saw an actual, genuine BOX! Like, a box-box, 3-dimensional, not an envelope of any sort, but a real live virtually vintage Amazon BOX!

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And of course, I had to document this. It’s like some unicorn randomly ringing the bell and asking to be photographed! Considering I genuinely cannot REMEMBER the last time I received ANY book from Amazon IN A BOX, this is a momentous occasion!

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After my initial surprise, I once more had some trepidation spotting this hole in the box, obvious damage to the box, which could indicate some massive damage to the book inside. No snark to that statement–something like this could mean something was driven into the box, obviously the box is punctured, so who knows what sort of damage might’ve been done to the book? Alternatively, if part of the book made the damage, then who knows what it suffered in doing so?

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To my further surprise, on opening the box, not only did Amazon use a BOX…but they used packaging material in a vain ATTEMPT to "protect" the book!

These flimsy, crappy air-bubble things mostly don’t do a darned thing and are flatter than not, but SOME air remained in the ones on "top" here. And once I removed the book itself, I realized it’d been laying on one (then flat), but it seems likely that this one on top truly DID protect the book.

No obvious damage to the book’s cover, and since the hole left the cardboard punched down INTO the box, it indicates (to me) that something hit from the houtside…but in most likelihood, the gap between the box itself and the book was maintained by the bubble enough to allow the box to take the damage WITHOUT sharing said damage with the book itself!

These bubbles by no means kept the book STILL within the box–it could still slide around and take damage from being rattled during shipping–but this is more packaging material than I’ve seen in the last (at bare under-estimated MINIMUM) dozen books I’ve ordered from them!

This is not ideal, truly acceptable packaging…especially compared to the actual care and quality from InStockTrades/DCBService (which have CHEAPER shipping and I can’t imagine even with their customer base that they do a fraction of Amazon‘s business!) but considering the complaints I’ve had, I didn’t want to not share this today!

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Look–even the cat is wary of this unfamiliar, rare, and foreign object!

#HPBHaul for October 21, 2016

Today I went to a local (regional?) clearance sale by Half-Price Books. I had hopes of scoring an elusive Predator novel, or maybe snagging some Magic: The Gathering or Dragonlance novels, but no such luck (long story short).

What I did find was a set of four Penny Arcade collections that–for half the cost of a single Marvel issue–was well worth buying.

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Along with these, I also found a huge (but rather skinny) volume, Storeyville. Not owning any myself, I assume it’s about the size of the IDW Artist’s Edition volumes…certainly larger than a DC Absolute edition.

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I also snagged a handful of comics…though not nearly as many as I’d initially loaded up on…they were 50 cents each, so those dollars piled up fast compared to a quarter-bin.

Overall, not a bad haul, but certainly not what I’d hoped for.

New Books And How They Could Have Been Better

Taking advantage of an online discount, I snagged several volumes recently that I was really quite interested in…if not entirely "justified" in ordering.

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I’m at least the previous volume behind in reading on The Walking Dead. But I really did not want to let myself get away from "keeping up with" the series in collected volume format…and I can definitely see sitting down and binge-reading several in one go, my periodic binge rather than slogging through issue by issue.

I’d heard really good things about Titans Hunt, and rather than track down 7 or 8 issues at $3+ apiece, I waited a couple extra months for the collected volume. While I certainly do NOT disapprove of it also containing an issue of New 52 Justice League along with the Titans: Rebirth issue…it kinda makes the Lois and Clark volume look a little light by comparison.

I thoroughly enjoyed Superman: Lois and Clark as a series before I had any inkling of a Rebirth or this Superman (the closest to "my" Superman I see in modern comics) "taking over," and was quite thrilled that "even though" the series was retroactively a "mini-series," it was leading into the character taking over the main books.

But honestly…if Titans Hunt can include two additional issues beyond its core-titled run…why the heck did this Superman volume not contain Convergence: Superman #s 1-2?!? The inclusion of just those two issues would have pretty much made the volume as perfect a collected volume as I could imagine.

I have no desire to buy one of a bunch of other TPBs "just" to have those two issues on my bookshelf. I might have to just bag the Convergence issues and slip ’em in between this and whatever’s on the shelf next to it.

Latest Aliens and Predators Shelf Configuration – September 12, 2016

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aliens_shelf_sept12bWe’re into September, which means a couple of new Aliens related books due out.

I believe this week will see the release of The Complete Aliens Omnibus volume two, collecting two of the Dark Horse novels after the initial trilogy.

And the end of the month will see the release of Alien vs. Predator: Armageddon (Book 3 of a "crossover trilogy" called The Rage War by Tim Lebbon.

We also have the current Dark Horse Comics series Aliens: Defiance in progress, as well as a new Judge Dredd/Aliens/Predator series with an upcoming Aliens: Life and Death (though after 2014’s Aliens/Predator/AvP/Prometheus event and subsequent one-volume collection, I’m just waiting for the one-volume collection this time around, most likely).

There was also a recent collection of general DC Comics/Dark Horse Aliens stuff put out, and more recently a volume of DC Comics/Dark Horse Superman stuff (of primary interest to me, the Superman/Aliens and Superman/Aliens 2 material) published.

Along with the various books and comics, there’s the new Aliens Queen 6" Funko Pop figure that just came out (at least according to a months-old Amazon pre-order that just arrived). While I’ve had the "regular" Alien, this Queen is one of the larger oversized figures… and I quite like it, all things considered.

A couple weeks ago, I found one of the mid-2000s Dark Horse Press Predator novels at a used book shop*. Rather crummy condition, but at half cover price and to have it, I won’t complain much for the moment.

(* not Half-Price Books. I figure it could be missing the cover and they’d mark it up to at least $50 just because it’s out of print and not necessarily due to any great demand beyond myself…)

I believe there are only 3 or so Predator novels I’m missing, now to have all of those; certainly still missing a bunch of comic/collected volumes, but I’ve found the novels a lot more satisfying for both Aliens and Predator, and certainly more "history" with the novels.

And as seen in the photos above, also some cool toys for them–primarily Funko product, with a couple Minimates creatures and a Neca figure thrown in for my kinda bookshelves…

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