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A Tirade: SHAME! and BOO! to Certain Used Book Dealers & An Ode to the Ex-Library Copy

Should you read the Freddy mailing list, you will quickly discover that many devotees of Walter R. Brooks’s Freddy books seek the original Knopf editions. Frankly, I don’t understand why anyone would want any Freddy title except perhaps for research purposes only.  Not only are the books terribly distorted misrepresentations of reality, but their prices, grossly, indeed, obscenely inflated by hysterical desperation and commercial avarice, put them out of the reach of the ordinary bibliophile. (Especially elderly ordinary bibliophiles on limited post-retirement incomes!) Now, I do not condone or encourage anyone’s reading the Freddy series, but I am moved to pity for those so thoroughly addicted that they cannot help themselves and who will actually spend more than a dollar (!) for a "pre-owned" Freddy title. Perhaps if they band together and resolve never to purchase a used Freddy for more than $1.00, the shameful exploitation of their sad and terrible addiction will cease, and dealers’ prices will plummet to a more sane level—about $1.00. I ask you, is this so unreasonable? I mean, what is the average price of a used hardcover book at the Salvation Army or Goodwill or a library discard sale? A buck at most! And while we’re on the topic of used books, WHO CARES if a Freddy book is a first edition or has a dust jacket. Big deal! Poop-poop-a-doop! Now, a first edition Dickens or Faulknerthat’s an altogether different matter. But a Freddy book? C'mon, now! Go for the library discard! Check the flea markets for school library castoffs. A few scuffs and scribbles don’t matter at all. And why not wait for the (shudder) republication of all the titles by Overlook Press if you must complete your Freddy collection? Although I do not like the Freddy books because of their disparaging, demeaning, and defamatory characterizations of me and several of my closest and dearest friends, I do feel an affinity for booklovers (however misguided), and I hope my brief diatribe has put things into perspective for the subset of Freddyphiles among them. AND, here is a poem I once sent to those poor souls at the Freddy mailing list to encourage them to overcome their mania and adopt a more sensible approach to book collecting.

Four Quatrains for the Ex-Library Copy

O, thou rubbed, sunned, and smudged relic!
Thou marked, worn, time-spoiled tome!
Thy bent spine, frayed corners, ugly scribbles
But more endear thee to me in thy new home!

Safe from further stains and ravages,
No more shall thy past grandeur fade.
Though ignominiously stamped with “DISCARDED,”
Thou’rt well worth the quarter I paid!

Now enshrined on my safeguarding bookshelf,
Though thou’rt nicked, scuffed, creased, and quite torn--
Thy ex-libris smell I quite savor--
And now canst thy spirit be reborn.

Ne’er more shall numerous dirty fingers,
Tear thy endpages, buckram cover, and soul!
Here close to my heart dwellst thou forever,
Though of thee Time hath taken Her toll.

"Four Quatrains for the Ex-Library Copy"
© 1997 by Edward H. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Except in the case of brief quotations in totally uncritical, completely complimentary articles and reviews,
no part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the written permission of
Edward Henry Anderson

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