By: Keith Jones
When shopping on the Internet was a very new thing, I managed to find a first edition of Ballad of the Bones for less than $20, including shipping. Recently it occurred to me that others might be interested in seeking early editions of Reece’s works. This article describes what I found.
You can use any of several sites to search for used books. Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com are the “500 pound gorillas” of online book shopping. But this time, I used the lesser-known abebooks.com site. Abe books specializes in textbooks and used books, and tends to have more ‘obscure’ books in its listings than the giant booksellers, at least in my experience.
Another reason I used Abe books is that if you register (free) they allow you to establish a “want” that can be as narrow as a single book, or as wide as my search for Reece books was. I simply entered “Byron Herbert Reece” in the author blank, and “E.P. Dutton” in the publisher blank (because I was searching for first editions, not the more recent Cherokee press versions).
I entered my “want” search into Abe’s site late on a Sunday evening, and on Monday morning, an email awaited me with a link to a page listing my results.
Surprise! You can still obtain a first edition of several of Reece’s titles for relatively modest amounts of money. The least expensive price I found was a seller in Britain who had a first-edition Ballad of the Bones for the equivalent of just over $5. Of course, shipping is more than double that, but still a great bargain for under $20 total. Several other first editions ranged in price from $10 to $35.
There was a tendency for prices to increase the closer the seller was to Reece’s home area. I believe this reflects Reece’s work being better known and appreciated in the mountain South than in other parts of the country. Of course, books signed by the author tended to be somewhat higher in price, with the highest one returned in my search being over $400.
A nice feature of the Abe site is that there’s a fairly extensive description of the book. Sun damage, light pencil markings, tears, etc. are listed in some detail. Generally, no one could expect books over 50 years old to be in perfect condition, so use the descriptions to decide how much wear and tear is acceptable to you.
Happy book hunting!
— Keith Jones