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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Punchy President's Day

Although it wasn't "officially" a Pistil Books event, Sean and I  had a President's Day Party this weekend.  A couple of friends, Russell (who is featured in Pistil Readings and has published zines on cocktail culture) and Evan, concocted delicious historical punches for the occasion:  Fish House Punch and United Service Punch.

We asked our guests to dress in presidential attire and consequently had two Lincolns, a Dwight Eisenhower, the Queen of England (well, that was Sean), some diplomats from African nations, several stunning First Lady-looking types, a sneaky security contingent, and quite a few grungy protesters and anarchists (this being Seattle). 

And of course no presidential affair would complete without the press, in this case The Stranger's Party Crasher.

Here's CIA Agent Candiotti and the Queen.

The high point of the evening were the presentations at the podium, which included The Queen of England reading from John Sinclair's Guitar Army ("free money!  f***ing in the streets!"); a rant in favor of the Puritans; some punchy thoughts by Lincoln; lovely patriotic songs; the presidential seal presenting a re-enactment of an encounter between Monica Lewinsky and Clinton; and an impassioned critique of secularism, which made use of all the occurrences of the word "ass" in the King James Bible. 

Here we have a dashing pair of Jackie O supporters.

Trudi , a candidate for class president of Beaver High School, gives the Beaver victory sign.

The Presidential Seal prepares his presentation.

All in all, it was a very fun evening, complete with first family paper dolls.

Luckily, no assassinations took place.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Detailed Description

Here at Pistil Books we don't use the automatic pricing system often used by giant warehouse companies such as Better World Books wherein books are unloaded by forklift and dumped on a conveyor to be scanned and priced by a machine with little or no attention paid to their condition -- or whether the pricing makes sense to anyone but a computer...   Here we take the time to look at a book, inspect it and grade it and then look to see on a few sites what would be an appropriate price for our copy.   So we get to see a great many descriptions written by other booksellers.  It is to the general degradation of the industry that has come to treat books like crushed cans or recycled flotsam to which the book descriptions found below are dedicated.

Book Description: Stockton, California, U.S.A.: Lamm-Morada Pub Co, 1979. No Binding. Book Condition: Fine. 1st Edition. fine copy. Bookseller Inventory # 496j

Sounds like a great copy except for that lack of binding problem.  Hard to read in the wind. 

From Mathom House Books
Los Angeles County Museum, 1984. Trade. Book Condition: Used. We do our best to describe each book accurately. Any discrepency [sic] between what is described and what is pulled will be noted in an email. If you would like a detailed description beyond what has been provided, please ask.

Apparently "doing our best" to describe each book accurately is to determine if it is "new" or "used."  . 

From Sparks Distribution Service:
American Chemical Society, 1978. Book Condition: Good. Average used book with all pages present. Possible loose bindings, highlighting, cocked spine or torn dust jackets. Ex-Library. Ex-Library.

I like how "an average used book" can have "possible loose bindings," because not only is this not at all "average" for a used book , but of course it would have more than one binding: there's the invisible one to count also.  So I get a copy with a loose binding, highlighting all over the place and a spine that looks like a chiropractor's nightmare and this is called "good," and "average" instead of  "poor."   It seems the Spark is a little weak.  It's great too how an outfit like this will make a blanket description that they'll then apply to thousands of books and even then they won't take the care to make the description make any sense to start with. 

From Sparks Distribution Service:
University of California Press, 1966. Book Condition: Very Good. Attractive. Shows some signs of wear and is no longer fresh.

Albeit the book in question has to do with native plants, the application of adjectives usually reserved for produce to book descriptions is quizzical.  We would ask if the copy is  crisp and lush, or if the pages are wilted.

From Mathom House Books Inc:
Stanford University Press, 1955. Hardcover. Book Condition: Used. We do our best to describe each book accurately. Any discrepency [sic] between what is described and what is pulled will be noted in an email. If you would like a detailed description beyond what has been provided, please ask.

I do hope they're not working too hard at "doing their best" there; we do know it’s a book, with hardcovers and it’s used.    I guess the only  “discrepency”  they might make at this point is by shipping a "New" book with no covers.  A "detailed description" would perhaps note if the book had been run over by a truck or been gnashed by a ravenous rottweiler. 

From Look at a Book:
Macmillan of Canada, 1981. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. DUST JACKET WORN AS IT HAS SERVED IT'S [sic] PURPOSE AND PROTECTED THE BOOK, PAGES SLIGHTLY TANNED Good: Typical used book. All pages and cover intact (including dust cover, if applicable). The spine may show signs of wear. Pages can include limited notes and highlighting. Occasionally these may be former library books. Overall you will be surprised at how good our used books are. We just want to remind you that this is a used book. Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Overall, I will be surprised if they learn to use punctuation.  They have served their purpose and can now go out of business.  I just want to remind them TO USE A LOT OF CAPITALS WHEN MAKING DUMB COMMENTARY WHEN VENTING THEIR PIQUE AT ANYONE WHO WANTS A BOOK WITH A DUST JACKET THAT HAS NOT BEEN TRASHED BECAUSE IT  WAS HANDLED LIKE SO MUCH RECYCLING. 

EOS, 2011. Soft cover. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Fine. 1st Edition. ***ADVANCE READERS COPY(ARC)***SOFT COVER***UNREAD****ARTWORK COVER***RACHEL MORGAN IS IN TROUBLE.6 X 9.439 PAGES.EOS.MARCH 2011***ADVANCE READERS COPY***SOFT COVER***. Bookseller Inventory # 5976

Lessee here, twice it's mentioned in caps that this is a soft cover, so there shouldn't be too much question about that, yet the d.j. is "Fine."  Maybe if it's not in caps it doesn't count.  Then it's an ARC, but no wait, it's a first, again the caps may win out here, plus ARC is mentioned twice again.  I think the main point is that RACHEL MORGAN (apparently a moniker for RUSTYLEEE) *****IS IN TROUBLE!!!!!!!*******

 -- Blog entry by Sean