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Alfred M. Albers

Author & Magician

Of Ghosts And Magic
House of Tarot Cards
A Pocket Full of Voices
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One Person's Junk Is....
by Al Albers

It’s amazing what you find at a garage sale.  Case in point: Two weeks ago, I found The Old Farmer’s 2000 Almanac stuffed in between some paperback books.  There was no price tag so the homeowner said, "fifty cents."  I know a bargain when I hear it, so I bought it.  Why buy a 13-year-old magazine?  There was an interesting article I wanted to read … but I’m getting ahead of myself.  The transition about the then forthcoming combination change of year, century and millennium was big news in 1999.


Back in 1999, each local U. S. Post Office branch had an electronic clock counting down the seconds, minutes, hours, and days until the end of the year.  On Interstate 64, there was a billboard with this same information.  (Hopefully they were both in sync!)  The local daily newspaper had a daily “Year 2000 Countdown.”  And historic Williamsburg, Virginia was touting the virtues of spending a week in 18th century America.  Those that took advantage had to give up their pagers and cell phones.  And, by the way, no television either.  Radio and television stations had various programming features.  One radio station devoted its morning show to popular television jingles, commercials, and witticisms.  For example, “A little dab will do you,” is for Brylcream, a men’s hair product; “Where’s the beef?” a commercial for Wendy’s hamburgers; “Things go better with Coke,” pretty obvious; and “See the USA in your Chevrolet,” another obvious saying.  Another radio station spotlighted the twenty most influential musicians and/or music groups of the 20th century.  They had special segments throughout the day featuring the music made famous by the individual or group.  For the listeners, it was a chance to hear song cuts that are rarely played.  On television, NBC aired its “Time and Again 2000,” sort of a one-minute retrospective look at an event that helped shape history both stateside and abroad.  These educational snippets gave the younger generation a small palatable dose of history taught in a manner unlike anything they saw or heard in the classroom.


Yesterday, March 1, I finished reading that 13-year-old almanac.  While that might not be noteworthy to some, it is for me.  For the natives of New York City (my original home town), this particular book is not an item seen on everyone’s living room table.  I was indeed surprised at the amount of information the book contained.


Getting back to that interesting article I mentioned a few moments ago ... it was titled, “The Greatest Bargains of the Last 100 Years.”  One of the items is John Grisham’s A Time To Kill.  (In 1989, Mr. Grisham was an unknown Southern lawyer trying to break into the writer’s world.)  If you were an avid reader and took a chance on this book, your $10.00 investment was now worth $2,500.  But … only if your book was a first edition, first printing.  (Incidentally, the article did not state what later editions/printings were fetching.)


Wow!  So, what will be the next book to command a high price once it’s out of print?  Your guess is as good as mine, but whatever it is I hope I have a copy in my bookcase.


"I wonder," I said aloud.


I decided to see what my three novels (Of Ghosts and Magic, House of Tarot Cards, and A Pocket Full of Voices) were selling for on Amazon.  The price range for House of Tarot Cards was between $10 and $30; whereas, A Pocket Full of Voices went for $15 to $40.  But what really got my attention was the price for Of Ghosts and Magic, my first novel.  On March 2, 2013, there were twenty copies ranging from $10 to $30; however, one seller was asking $788 and a second seller was asking for $999.


I about fell out of my chair.  While those extraordinary high prices may not be the norm, I’m wondering if either seller knows something I don’t know.


I sure hope so.


Now that I’m back down from that very short stay on cloud 9, I guess it’s time for me to visit the local used book stores.  And I’m sure you know what book I’ll be looking for!  Yep, a first edition/first printing of John Grisham’s A Time To Kill.  I don’t need to look for my three novels; I already have a copy of each.  Well, truth be known, I have a few copies of each.  So if you’re reading this article and are interested in purchasing one (or better yet, all three), let's talk.  Send me an email by clicking the Feedback link on my Web site.  By the way, I’ll be more than happy to autograph one (or all of them) for you.


After all, you just never know; one day the books may be worth a lot more than the publisher’s sticker price.