23 December 2009

Park Barnitz. Book of Jade 2

I have had two bad experiences with this jinxed book. First I bought a copy of the Durtro limited edition reprint from a shop I had dropped into whilst bookbuying in America, one of those shops where hardly anything is priced. Before the web they let the pencil write the price unless it was obviously valuable in which case price guides and book auction records came out, later on a CD Rom was spun with prices going back to the era of flared loon trousers.

Nowadays the old geezer checks the web on every single book, but (as I later sussed) does it in a way that tends to show only the higher price stuff, a sort of learned incompetence. He then lets you have your book (in this case the Book of Jade, Durtro ed) at about a third less than the lowest price shown and it appears you have a good deal. However he has put in too much information thus narrowing down the available copies, usually to the classier dealers who have also input a lot of info and know how to overcharge. When you get home you realise that the book you paid $150 for a book that could be had for $100. As a dealer if you are to get anything back you would have to price your copy at $90 thus making a quick but painful $60 loss. Caveat Emptor! Basically less information will usually reveal lower prices. Less is more, as the mantra goes. No names, no pack drill but you may find a shop like this by chance while book hunting stateside.

The 1998 Durtro edition is still available at about $100, although a few dealers want $200 or more. The edition was limited to 300, not a small edition for a book whose fanbase, although keen and sophisticated, is necessarily narrow. The other bad experience, less painful on the pocket and more a kind of experiment, was to buy for $15 a Print on Demand copy of Park's great work. Whilst the text is there, the line breaks of the poems are dodgy and the book is generally about as interesting as non alcoholic vodka. They have a catchall apology for their dismal effort at the front:
"We have recreated this book from the original using Optical Character Recognition software to keep the cost of the book as low as possible. Therefore, could you please forgive any spelling mistakes, missing or extraneous characters that may have resulted from smudged or worn pages? "
If you want the book free you can read it online at UCLA and the text looks accurate.

I narrowly missed a less than fine Doxey edition of the book two years back at £150 and I have heard of copies making $300 on Ebay but a realistic price for a decent copy is probably $500. Several other Doxey editions are of value especially the 1897 Yone Noguchi book 'The Voice of the Valley'. It can show up wearing a jacket and commands about $800+. Emma Dawson's collection of fantastic stories 'Itinerant House', a Bleiler title, (also Doxey 1897) is desirable and can make $500 or more. 'Doxey's Guide to San Francisco and the Pleasure Resorts of California' is for sale at $1000+ but the price may be freakish. Lastly I found a photo of Park Barnitz. My theory is that unlike say, Rimbaud or Dowson, his decadence may have been conceptual rather than actual - he does not exactly look like the guy from party central...
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