Help Authenticating a Book

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Reikon Suchi-ru 29/Dec/2006 at 01:15 PM
Interrogator of Mordor Points: 13828 Posts: 13959 Joined: 11/Dec/2002
I’ve found a few really good deals on for LotR books. One is a complete set of the books, Houghton Mifflin Company (1965). It can be found HERE. I’d like to know if this is the authentic book, because I don’t want to be ripped off. There’s also another one, The Two Towers from 1954, published by G. Allen and Unwin and can be found HERE. There’s also a third, an Ace pirated copy 18th edition from 1965 and can be found HERE. Are these the real deal or are they rip-offs?
geordie 29/Dec/2006 at 03:47 PM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
I can’t make head nor tail of these listings. Let’s start with the Ace - there was no more than one edition of the Ace edition, and I’m not sure what they mean by an 18th ed. The description a the top of the page says cover illo. by Jack Gaugahn - then most of the descriptions say the book[s] are published by Ballantine or Dolphin or Houghton Mifflin. The range of prices is scary too; esp. since there are no photos.

generally speaking, I don’t use Amazon 2nd hand [tho’ I think one or two other Plaza members do, and have had good results]. But it would take me some time to get used to the ground-rules as it were on Amazon 2nd hand, so I really can’t advise.

I use And Ebay. As in all cases, it’s _always_ a case of buyer beware; but in the case of Abe, at least the vendors are dealers, and they know what they’ve got, and how to describe a book. They also often have pictures. [but there’s no real substitute for seeing and handling a book before buying]. But anyway - at least with Abe, the dealers will usually give money back if the books aren’t exactly as they describe them. Look at

As for Ebay [and Amazon 2nd hand, from what I can see]. It seems the vendors are a mixture of dealers, and private individuals, and I can’t see much evidence on the Amazon site that many of the vendors know how to describe a book properly. For myself, I’d not be inclined to look at any of the three sites you point to. I’d look at Abe.

Just a few pointers - first; copyright date. If someone says a book is 1965, beware. Houghton Mifflin used that date for many years after 1965, to my certain knowledge. All it means is that the text was last revised in 1965 [at the time this copy was printed]. The book itself may have been printed in the 80s. Something to think about, if that sort of thing matters to you.

As for the FR [1954] - again, this was the original date of the first ed. It does’nt apply to a paperback [1st authorised p/back was Ballantine in 1965]. Ace brought their pirate ed out a couple of months earlier.

Then there’s condition. A proper dealer will give a condition report which corresponds to certain rules - that is, there are agreed levels of condition from poor to fine. Most real dealers don’t use ’mint’ - that’s coins! If the book is hardback and is supposed to have a dustjacket, then that should be present. The right dustjacket. [some try to sell books with later jackets]. The difference in price between a book with jacket compared to one without is significant - a $1000 book is worth only $100 if the jacket is missing!

As I say, basically there’s no substitute for feeling the book in your hand; but then, I’ve had some good buys on the net, too. I’d recommend Abe - in general, I find it the safe way to buy on the net; prices are fixed [that is, not an auction] and there are prices to suit all pockets. Have a go there.
Reikon Suchi-ru 29/Dec/2006 at 04:47 PM
Interrogator of Mordor Points: 13828 Posts: 13959 Joined: 11/Dec/2002
Many thanks, geordie. I bow down to your vast knowledge of the books, and am cruising AbeBooks as we speak. I was really turned off by those Amazon books because of not having photos, but they seemed like such good deals. I’ll keep watching them, in case I decide, on a whim, to buy them. After all, it’s only around $24, so it’s not too much of a risk. Then again, I’m going to the ONLY Used-Book Store within 50 miles of my home tomorrow, so I might be able to get something there!
geordie 29/Dec/2006 at 05:08 PM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
- of course, you could also try using a telephone dictionary or Yellow Pages; or use Abe to help find bookdealers within say the state where you live - and ring round to ask if any have Tolkien, or sell Tolkien on a regular basis. I know one or two dealers whom I ring up every now and then; to ask if they have anything ’early; rare; _signed_ and... cheap! Makes ’em laugh every time..

Mind you, on asking ’do you sell Tolkien books?’ I was once directed to the audio books section - the lass thought I’d said ’talkin’ books’. Bless her..

Reikon Suchi-ru 29/Dec/2006 at 05:21 PM
Interrogator of Mordor Points: 13828 Posts: 13959 Joined: 11/Dec/2002
"Talkin’ books" That’s a good one!

I’ve found a couple books I’m interested in on AbeBooks, a pair from 1969! I found Fellowship and Towers from 1969, published by Ballantine Books; also found Return of the King, but it was a little to steep in price for my wallet. I was wondering if they looked good to you, geordie: Fellowship and Two Towers.
geordie 29/Dec/2006 at 05:52 PM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
I don’t usually give advice on buying books - suppose they’re awful? I’d get the blame!

But looking at the prices of these two, I don’t suppose you can go too far wrong. But I do have a couple of queries - I don’t see a date - how d’you know they’re from 1969? I don’t think TT is, for a start; because they did’nt use Tolkien’s own pictures as cover designs until around 1972-3. Basically, these books don’t form an exact pair, because FR has the original Ballantine cover, by Barbara Remington; and TT has, as I say, a Tolkien picture.

Another consideration is condition. I said that the scale goes from ’poor’ to ’fine’. Well, FR is described as a ’reading copy’ which equates to ’poor’. Though, looking at the description - he mentions creasing, which is normal for a paperback, but does’nt mention any missing pages - it does’nt seem too bad. But remember - a pic. and description ain’t the same as seeing the actual book, and he may have left things out of his description.

So - I would’nt go for these two, unless I just wanted the text - but you have copies of the books, don’t you? I’d wait; and take another look round; and go for a uniform set; that is, one with all the covers with the same style of illustration. For instance, the cover for FR to go with the TT is Tolkien’s picture of The Hill [from the Hobbit]. That for RK is Tolkien’s pic. of Barad-dur. Whereas the covers to match FR in this case are two more ’fantastical’ scenes from Barbara Remington; and the trick is that when the books are laid down with the covers pointing up - they make a triptych, that is, a three-part illustration.

A couple of tips on using Abe - first, go to ’Advanced Search’. Then you can select the type of book yopu want; say, LotR; within a certain time frame - say, 1965 to 1971 - select paperback - that would get you in the range of both Ballantine with Remington covers; and also the Ace books. You can also which country or countries to look for; and even which US state, I think. As well as a price range. Have a go; it takes a little time, but it’s fun!

Reikon Suchi-ru 29/Dec/2006 at 06:00 PM
Interrogator of Mordor Points: 13828 Posts: 13959 Joined: 11/Dec/2002
geordie - I can’t thank you enough. You’ve stopped me from making 3 seperate purchases today. Anyways, I’m looking at this set, and was wondering if they’re a viable set: HERE. I promise I’ll stop bugging ya when I find the right set! Heh.
geordie 29/Dec/2006 at 06:08 PM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
Can’t see too much wrong with them - the covers match; they’re by Remington which means they date somewhere between 1965 and 1971/2 - the price is good, and the description says no marks or writings. Very important, that. I like the look of them, but please - no recriminations if they aren’t as good as they look. Deal?

[can’t find a smiley for ’fingers crossed; I hope they’re good]
Reikon Suchi-ru 29/Dec/2006 at 07:10 PM
Interrogator of Mordor Points: 13828 Posts: 13959 Joined: 11/Dec/2002
Nope, no blame for you if they’re bad, but you’ll get all the credit if they’re good, since you showed me the site.