Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pulp fiction.

As you may have gleaned from a visit to the store--maybe a visit to this blog, even--Babbitt's Books has a vast and varied stock which is not limited to antiquarian books. As long as an item is made of paper and is collectible or otherwise in-demand, we're happy to sell it.

Which brings me to our collection of pulp paperbacks.

Named for the cheap, wood-pulp paper they were printed on, pulp paperbacks were printed from the 1940s to the late 1970s, and reached the peak of their popularity in the 1950s. They were cheap and conveniently sized, much like today's mass-market paperbacks, and were the favored medium for mystery, science fiction, and fantasy. Today, they're known as much for their kitschy covers as they are for their content. Strong-jawed detectives, orgiastic young women, space aliens . . . all standard fare for pulp paperbacks. Here are some of our most recent acquisitions in that field:


 Because you can't help judging a book by a cover as wonderful as this.


If only!


Claudia is definitely the sort of wife I would put up for sale.

Some lovely artwork on a pocket-sized volume of Edgar Allan Poe.

Here's something you didn't know existed: a mystery by the author of Winnie-the-Pooh.

A truly fantastic cover is the selling point on this copy of Isaac Asimov's I, Robot.

If you're apt to forget that you're a man, the devil in dungarees has a cure. Apparently.

And last but not least, Reformatory Girls. 'nuff said.

If you like what you see, we've got hundreds more books like these, the majority of them searchable on our website. All are priced between $2 and $150. (Yes, these cheaply bound novels can get quite collectible.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saint Valentine's Day

Christmas is done, spring seems far-off and the frigid Illinois landscape has grown steadily drearier. Over at Babbitt's, we're preparing a month or two of mid-winter cleaning. Soon we'll be purging our storage site of old and obsolete books and replacing them with slow-selling, in-store titles in order to make room for our wealth of summer and autumn acquisitions. In the bustle of this rearrangement, I stumbled across some vintage treasures. And wouldn't you know it? They dispelled a little bit of the winter gloominess.

Can't make out what you're looking at?

They're die-cut, chromolithograph Valentines, from the late Victorian to early Edwardian era. The ones that we have on display behind our counter are three-dimensional and, as you can see above, quite intricate. Although they're rife with typical Victorian sentimentality--saccharine children, scads of flowers and doves galore--there's still something attractive about them.

They fall under the category of what we booksellers refer to as "ephemera." Ephemera is a broad category that includes any paper object that was meant to be thrown away. Letters, stamps, ticket stubs, magazines, menus, sheet music, posters, postcards, pamphlets, playbills, pin-ups . . . all of these count as ephemera. A fraction of our ephemera collection is for sale in the store, but most of it is online and stored off-site. Type in ephemera into our website's search page and you'll come up with a massive 12,287+ hits.

You won't find any of these Valentines listed online, but you're welcome to come see them in person. If you're forward-thinking, you might even buy one! Most have a small gift inscription on them, but if you'd like to re-gift one, a small paper label or some white-out will do the trick. Prices range from $15 for smaller Valentines and $25 for larger ones. If you think these are out of your price range, we have dozens more vintage Valentines from the 1920s through the 1950s at $1, $2, and $3 apiece.

See? Just a dollar.

As always, we're open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. This is the slowest time of year for us and we'd love to see you. And really, is there anything cosier than browsing in a warm bookstore on a cold winter's day? Don't forget that we also have a four-month-old kitten who is always in need of playmates!