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Welcome to White Unicorn Books used book store. Please take a moment to look around our site for used & out-of-print books, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Arkham, and books in literature, classics, history, travel, fiction, mystery, thrillers, nonfiction, politics, religion, spirituality, art books, and much more. We upload books daily so check back often

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On these pages I've written about Medicard Part D, about searching for information on a book on Google and at the Library of Congress, reviewed several books, and talked about the IOBA. No telling what will show up here. I'm sure we'll duplicate information on the rest of the site, but a lot of it will be unique. Hope you find it of interest.

There are other links on the right, one points to previously featured books and another to a page about books, including book care, how to tell first editions and other ordinary and esoteric knowledge about books.

Just a reminder, repeat customers receive a 10% discount. That means that if you have bought from us anywhere else where we are allowed to communicate with the customer you should have a code to allow you a 10% discount if you buy through our site. So, if there's a book you want, maybe we can save you a little money.

PLEASE, if you find a mistake on our site, notify us at [email protected]. We invite your comments. Thanks for looking -
    White Unicorn Books
BTW: Would you like to send us to a friend? Then

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About Books, from identifying 1st editions to getting rid of gooey stuff

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November 06, 2006

It's getting toward that time of year again where you can change your Medicard Part D enrollment. I wrote something about Medicare Part D last year in late September or early October which basically indicated that, if you think you will ever need the Part D, you probably should sign up for it as soon as you could because of the penality added each month you waited after the initial sign up period. Well that advice still holds true, especially with the way prices are rising.

In fact, the way prescription prices are rising it looks like the "Donut Hole" is going to be reached eariler and eariler. We've had one of our prescriptions increase over 100% this year and that was a generic. So make sure you don't stop your comparisons for good plans. While you may have thought you didn't need to pay that extra premium to get some coverage in "the hole", you might want to rethink that position one of these days.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

October 30, 2006

Well, the Credit Card companies have done it again. My take on the statement "A spokesperson for Mastercard told the Times that testing 20 credit cards was an insignificant sample group." is that Mastercard basically thinks it was o.k. that 20 of their customers had their credit card information stolen because its an insignificant number, see RFID-enabled credit card theft. I'm sure the customers wouldn't feel that way.

In an experiment, two researchers, Tom Heydt-Benjamin and Kevin Fu from the University of Massachusetts and sponsored by RSA Labs (the research arm of RSA Security), demonstrated how easy it is for thieves to intercept data from contactless credit cards. That's those new credit cards that broadcast your information so merchants don't have to swipe your card through a reader. They are only suppossed to broadcast a few inches but apparently broadcast as much as several feet. Well, this is one person who won't get one of these new cards for quite a while [or destroy any shipped to him].

BTW: About that insignifcant sample group - as I remember from my statistics classes [I have a degree in Mathematics], checking a sample size of 20 AND having ALL of them be readable from "a few feet" away is very significant. It says, again if I remember correctly, that if someone tries to read any RFID card from no more than "a few feet" away, they will succeed more than 95% of the time.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

October 24, 2006

There are all manner of sites out there about books or even sites about a particular genre of books. Although I've seen it before when I've gone a googleing, I was struck by the SciFan site this am when I was trying to find the name of a book in a series (was it Wizard's Eleven or Wizards' Eleven?]. As they say on site - "We're all about helping readers discover new science fiction and fantasy books and authors. We update our database almost daily, with the ambition to make it a comprehensive and accurate resource for bibliographies and biographies in our favorite genres. As of today we include 57648 books, 15287 writers, 6551 series & 3552 web links." Of course those numbers change fairly often also. Never the less quite an impressive database. Especially if you are looking for a series or a theme since that is their focus. BTW: They are supported mostly by volunteers and sure could use some help if you know ASP.NET and SQL Server. They might even be able to pay a small amount for the right help.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

October 17, 2006

I've written here before about jgodsey's DISCARDED BOOKS the facelift for ex-library books and if fact Joan reviewed it for the IOBA. Sadly, it is no longer available. Happily, j has replace it with Unbound: Book Repair for Booksellers and, as it says on the cover, badly illustrated by j. godsey. But don't let that fool you, what Joan said in her review of Discarded, "If you love books, you collect books or sell books this is a very handy reference book. The simple, clearly explained ways to prolonging the life of a book is fascinating." applies to Unbound. In fact its even more fascinating because there is quite a bit more information in it. We're still comparing the two and when we get finished, we (probably meaning Joan) will write a review of Unbound. When we do, I'll post it on our review page and point to it here. In the meantime, here's the table of contents:
Unbound: Book Repair for Booksellers
read me
stuff you need
anatomy 101
dirty book
dirty dust jacket
pockets, stickers or tape
cocked spine
warped boards
shaken hinge
loose signature
loose leaf
torn leaf
bubbled cloth
discolored cloth
bumped corner
missing free endpaper
smell books
damaged endpaper
detatched cover - paperback
split spine - paperback

BTW: if you didn't read the first review you can read it at Review of Discarded Books: The facelift for ex-library books

>> 'til next time - DW <<

October 9, 2006

You know it seems as though I spend a good part of my day just looking around the boards, reading comments, answering questions or making comments. Before I know it, a good part of the day has "evaporated" into thin air and I haven't gotten anything done. What tends to use up a lot of the time is those excursions I never plan for. For example this morning there was an e-mail from someone asking me how we liked our Chrislands site (very much, BTW) because they were thinking of changing hosting organizations. Well, I went over to look at their site and what do I see on the front page but a Sudoku Puzzle from sudokupuzz.com.

Now numbers fascinate me, always have, always will. The eariliest I can remember wanting to be a mathematician was about the age of five because they obviously knew everything about numbers. Anyway, I see this Sudoku puzzle and, bang, there goes another half hour (or more) before I even knew about it. Now I'm late(r) all the rest of the day and Joan has just reminded me I have to get to the post office because Monday is a bad day with longer lines. Oh well, no rest for kind and gentle souls who strive to get your books to you through snow, sleet, rain, and dark of night.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

October 03, 2006

I've been debating whether to start a new set of pages. Every once in a while we get a request for a book in which the customers only knows a little about the book. We've even run a couple by the readers of these pages. For example, I still haven't been able to find the answer to the following:
A science fiction paperback published prior to 1997 and with the following description:

The start of the story is: a handful of modern day scientists are picked to do research/live/work in a state of the art bio-dome in the southwest USA somewhere (in contact with other domes across the world) - the bio-dome is a test model for possible future use on other planets I think if I remember correctly. Anyways, the group of scientists are locked in for a period of time like a few months or something but then something happens outside in the real world (a disease?) resulting in the scientists having to take a stab at actually living in the bio-dome indefinitely or something like that. It also focuses on a few different families living in other areas of the globe, (Up north, Africa) who are not affected by the disease(?)-it leads you to believe that the 'native' blood in people keeps them alive. Eventually the scientists in the dome have children, grow up, etc. One boy/man is part native American- his father is on the outside/mom on inside- and he decides to try his luck on the outside and doesn't make it.

Also, the book cover was predominantly blue in color and it had a picture of the silver/ steel looking bio-dome on it with an native Indian camp and a river going by both.

If anyone would like to start us off, I start the pages and (at least initially) offer a $5 gift certificate for the answer.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

September 28, 2006

Can you believe it, 6 weeks since I've done anything like write something for Ramblings. It isn't that I don't have things to write about - I try to keep a list of what might be interesting topics to write about in my "ToDo" list. Speaking of which - that isn't getting any shorter either.

One of those topics I had in my To Do list was about an article I read in the September, 2006 Reader's Digest. The cover title was Sectrets of A+ Students but the article was on How to raise an A+ student. It discussed three families. One was a Homeschool family with a brother and sister being homeschooled chiefly by the mother Leila Giles, but the father Kent joins the ongoing family tutorial every evening.

Another family consisted of a single mother of three living in public housing who stayed involved with her children. Although Bonnie Hernandez has a strict set of rules for her kids, she can't always immediately help with the homework. So, she calls people and finds out how she can get help and keeps a lookout for recreation programs for her children.

The last family found the math teacher in a private school lacking and the wife Susan Price started tutoring one of the daughters and a classmate in math. Susan and John agreed that switching to a public school the next semester was probably better for everyone concerned.

It's obvious that one thing in common in these three families is the parent(s) involvement not only in the school work but, as the article points out, in the rest of their kids life. But what else is there in common? Well in the Giles family there are books - hundreds and hundred of books, lining shelves and resting on tables. In the Hernandez family, the kids had their library cards already at three years old and Bonnie took them regulary to the public libraries. In the Price family Susan and John read to their daughters "all the time" and the daughters have continued the reading tradition by becoming involed in a local library's book club every summer. To me it's obvious that books and reading plays a large part in the success of students from children to "ancients"

Want to see (and share) some more tips on helping your kids excel in school, visit rd.com/student

>> 'til next time - DW <<

August 13, 2006

One of my enjoyments is reading mathematics books and articles. Now one might not think that mathematics can provide "a way of living life" which is reasonable, rewarding, good for our planet and people on it. First though, let's look at the behavior of a lot of people in this world who consider just themselves in reacting to a situation. What has this to do with mathematics? Well, a branch of mathematics called Game Theory has a classical problem which illustrates this problem of only considering yourself. It was first stated by A. W. Tucker in 1950 and is called The Prisoners' Dilemma:
Two criminals, Bob and Al, are captured near the scene of a burglary and are given the "third degree" separately by the police. Each has to choose whether or not to confess and implicate the other. If neither man confesses, then both will serve one year on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon. If each confesses and implicates the other, both will go to prison for 10 years. However, if one burglar confesses and implicates the other, and the other burglar does not confess, the one who has collaborated with the police will go free, while the other burglar will go to prison for 20 years on the maximum charge.
Bob, thinking only of himself, reasons like this: If Al confesses, I will be better off to confess and serve 10 years because if I don't confess I will get 20 years. If Al doesn't confess, I will still be better of to confess since I could go free instead of serving a year if I don't confess. So Bob confesses.

What does Al do? Thinking only of himself, he come's to the same conclusion as Bob and confess'. The result is that both will 10 years in prison.

I mentioned that mathematics could show you "a way of living life" and the example above points to the single assumption that is needed to do this - we should always act "for the greater good of everyone concerned". If Bob also considered Al in his reasoning, he would know that the best solution for the two of them together would be for both to serve one year in prison since neither can go free without causing the other to serve at least 10 years in prison. So he would not confess.

What does Al do? If he also acts for the greater good, he won't confess either and both will serve only a 1 year term. And if he doesn't act for the greater good? Ahhh - that is a problem left for the student. As a hint, I might suggest that faith can do a lot.

A good introduction to game theory in presented in the pages Strategy and Conflict: An Introductory Sketch of Game Theory

BTW: This is book related, in case you were wondering. There was a SF book/story back in the 50's I think, but it could have been later, which had as a main character (male of course) an "advanced person" who went through a series of tests before being admitted to some kind of policing agency. One of the tests involved the "proper solution" to the Prisoners' Dilemma. Another was being left alone a "long time" in a totally dark cell with no sensory stimulation [not quite a sensory deprivation chamber] to see how he would react. Of course he passed all tests with flying colors. I can't really remember more of the story that that and would be grateful if anyone could tell me the name and author.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

August 01, 2006

Well, been somewhat busy. We had a chance to buy a collection of books, mostly signed. Signed by people such as Robert Block, Manly Wade Wellman, Normal Spinrad, Nancy Springer, Margaret St. Clair, John Steakley, Ted Sturgeon, Somtow Sucharitkul, Stephen Tall, and many others. We haven't priced them yet but if you would like to look over the initial list and get in touch with us they are filed under AutographedBooks on our pbwiki site. If you interested, you can start your own pbwiki

Speaking of the pbwiki's, they are raising their prices for upgrading to a premium or higher account - but they will still keep the free pbwiki around. With a premium wiki, you get 100x the space, no ads, more customization, advanced sharing capabilities, and more. All for $5/month IF you upgrade before they raise their prices. BTW, they have a pay for 10 months get 12 months running now also.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

July 14, 2006

We had been doing a little "spring cleaning" a couple of weeks ago and I bent over to clean out a fan when my back went out of whack. I've had a ruptured disk (L5) for some 30 years now and my back acts up every once in a while. I got it running away from a typhoon in the South Pacific which is whole other story. This is the worse it has been in quite some time. I should know by this time that I should just go to bed and use a heating pad and it will start clearing up in a "few days". But sometimes I push it and it takes longer. Like this time and thus no items here for about three weeks.

Well I'm up and around again and trying to catch up. One of the things that has happened is that Amazon finally is going to change the postage reminbursement to their dealers. After all the postal increase was only 6 months ago and the dealers on Amazon had to eat the increase all that time. The problem is that the postage change is probably going to cost the dealers more money.

We will actually get an extra $0.02 for media mail for a whopping $2.29 [Amazon charges are staying the same to buyers at $3.49]

But for Priority mail (expedited mail) buyers will be charged another $0.50 or $5.99. Sellers will get $4.79 which is a decrease of $0.26. So Amazon gains $0.76 per order for doing nothing but raising prices.

At least for international orders they are not charging the customers more. The charge remains the same at $9.79. However the seller now gets $0.36 less than we did before at $8.59.

That means that since the beginning of the year sellers on Amazon have taken about a $0.25 hit per package on media mail, a $0.51 hit per package on Priority mail, and a $0.86 hit per package on Internation mail. I would expect the cost of books to probably raise a bit to offset these increases - especially on heavier books. I know we were certainly thinking about it but have held off at least for a while.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

June 24, 2006

Biblion.com is about ready to go back into business again. Right now their site points back to Biblio for book searches. As it says in the press release at the Biblion site:
... Biblio.com, one of the world's largest marketplaces for used, rare, and out-of-print books, and Biblion Ltd., the foremost British based dealer marketplace announced today their mutual decision to work together to redevelop the current Biblion Ltd. online strategy. ...

We list on Biblio (and will on Biblion), so you can find our books there as well as here. We prefer you to buy them here as we then get to keep a little bit more of your money even after giving you a 10% discount if you are a repeat customer and order through our site [Joan relaxed the requirements that you be a repeat customer at our site to just being a repeat customer, but I just heard of that a few days ago].

So why mention Biblio and Biblion. Well Biblio is our third favorite site, after our own (of course) and
IOBAbooks.com. Biblio is one of the few sites we know who actually vet their dealers (and Biblion sounds like another). In addition they have a commitment to the communities they serve. As a demonstration of this commitment, Biblio created the Biblio Works Foundation, Inc. which is an outgrowth of the 2004 project by Biblio, partnered with its booksellers and the people of Bolivia, to construct a library for the impoverished mountain pueblo of Morado K'asa. The library opened to the public in February 2005 and is now being actively used and maintained by the community. So, if you are looking for books (and we don't have them), you could do a lot worse than looking at Biblio.com. BTW: You might want to join their discussion board at the Biblio Community Forum

>> 'til next time - DW <<

June 20, 2006

I was looking around at some of the blogs/newsletters I frequent (see the March 20th entry) and found myself at The Thinking Mother reading her "Annoyed by Poor Service With Amazon Marketplace Sellers" article. Now even though I've been writing something off and on for a year or so on our own site here, this is about the first time I've commented on an article on another blog. I had to go through the process of creating a blog before my comment would be published. Even then, since I really knew nothing about this, I didn't fill in any of the blanks (who I was, etc.). I assume that is why my comment didn't get posted. Since I had to finally figure that blog thing out, at least partially, in order to maybe comment on some other blog articles, I though I would just publish my comment here. So here it is.

I'm sorry about your bad experiences with book buying. However one of the thing you might do is try to find out more about the seller. I know this is difficult sometimes but there are several organizations which you can check to see if the seller is a member. If the seller is a member of one of these organizations, there is a very good chance your experience will be a much happier one. One (Tom Folio) was mentioned in a comment above. Another is the Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA.org). IOBA members must abide by a code of ethics which are posted on site and describe their books (guide lines are also posted on site). Many of the IOBA dealers, including us, have a "return for any reason" policy, sometimes with postage also reimbursed. They must accept full responsibility (refunds including postage both ways) for any items not as described and are responsible for the book until it actually gets to the customer (but they still can't control shipping time other than in the general standard or expedited mail sense). Although they do not have nearly the inventory of Amazon or Ebay, you might check out their site for IOBA member booksellers, IOBAbooks.com.

About the shipping and handling (S&H) on Amazon. Buyers are charged $3.49 for standard shipping and handling. It used to be that seller got $2.26 of that. Fees to the seller are 15% of the sale price of the book and either a monthly fee ($39.99) as a Pro Merchant or a flat fee of $0.99 per item sold. So the seller made a little money on some items and lost some on others. Overall our bookstore maybe lost a little or made a little on standard S&H considering packaging material which might be as simple as the film wrapped paperback in a padded envelope or a more complicated bubble wraped hardcover inside a taped "ziplock", taped at the corners to prevent bumped corners with addition styrofoam and peanut cushioning in the taped box. BTW: All of our DJ's have If any kind of reasonable labor rate were added, we definately would loose money. Since we are a small "Mom & Pop" store, the labor rate doesn't come into effect.

Then the US Postal rates went up this year. Amazon, possibly in its consideration of the law on the matter, started giving the seller the total $3.49 S&H charge it was charging the customer. Since the postage rates did not raise near as much as the additional $1.23 the sellers were receiving, the sellers really made out. Right? Wrong! Because Amazon added a $1.23 per sold fee to the sellers cost of doing business on Amazon? Since costs to the seller have risen about 10% due to the postal rate increase, we are losing more money on the S&H than we did before.

Looking at the comment again, maybe there was just a bit too much about us in the comment for it to be published. Oh well, it provided an entry here. BTW: Do you want a blog for yourself? Just visit blogspot.com

>> 'til next time - DW <<

June 12, 2006

We had a phone call from a customer to order a book the other day. When we asked if they would like to receive notification when we shipped the book along with the tracking number, they declined with a "I don't like to give out my e-mail address". Of course, I'm sure they meant to commercial entities like us. In a way I can't blame them for that attitude. I get up to several hundred spam e-mails a day. But I have a pretty good filtering program and it catches most of them. Still I have to look through the filtered mail to make sure some legitimate e-mail didn't get trapped. [Our book order e-mail is a different e-mail address and, fortunately, it hasn't been swamped by spam]

Anyway, the reticence of our customer to leave their e-mail address brought up an idea known to many about how to cure the problem of opening yourself up to spam by giving out your e-mail address. It does mean that you have to trust one someone though and that is the organization who will handle your extra (possibly free) e-mail accounts. One such entity is Yahoo. You can set up a free e-mail account by Yahoo by filling out their form You will have to give out your "real e-mail address" where you can be contacted. Of course, there is even a way around this part for a lot of us. Your ISP (those people you have your account with for getting on the internet) might, like a lot of them, allow you to have quite a few sub accounts at no added expense. You could use this as your "real e-mail address" for Yahoo. Why not just use it instead of the Yahoo account? Well you can have many Yahoo accounts hooked to that one sub account and you don't use up more than one of your sub accounts. Of course, if it is easy to delete and create sub accounts, you could just use an account until it got too spam laden and then delete that one and create another. Other free e-mail accounts are available from Google (GMail) and the hotmail people. Pass The Shareware gives links to seven of these free email providers. Now, if you would like the information about the tracking number or any other information for that matter, you can give out an e-mail address to entities without worrying about your main email address being swamped with spam.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

June 07, 2006

Maybe I should still be getting up in the morning and going to work. Had three days of selling hats at the Texas Scottish Fest in Arlington, TX. I'm just now recovering from having to get up, ship book orders (except Sunday), drive the 20 to 30 miles to the fest, set up to sell hats, "stand around" 14 hrs with most of it in the 100 degree plus heat, break down, pack up, drive back to the house. pull orders, pack orders, update the inventory, upload to our site (and others) to update the inventory, and finally get to bed about midnight so I can start over again about 5 am. Now really it wasn't that bad, but I though I would make it sound like I had to work for a change. This being "retired" can be a wear and tear on the body after sitting around for a "few months" at the computer where the most exercise you get is your daily walk to get some exercise and then spend three days like the last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Why hats you ask. Well, it's like this. We've been going to the Scottish Fest sort of off and on for the last 10 years or so and every time we go we seem to forget to take a hat (neither Joan nor I usually wear a hat). After being out in that hot Texas sun for a few hours, we start looking around to see if we can get some kind of hat to protect our head and offer some protection from the heat and sun. We hadn't ever found one, so we decided to try it ourselves. Bad idea - at least they way we did it was bad. We probably could have done better if we had made the hats (cowboy hats and caps) a little more festive, maybe decorated with a Scottish plaid around the brim. Will we do next year? Probably not. Even if I did make the three days of the fest sound like more work than it was, it wasn't worth it financially. Besides, I'd rather just go to the fest to have fun than sell things to the people who are having fun.

It wasn't all work and no play, Mike and I went to a Scotch Seminar which included some scotch tasting. The best was three drams of Laphroaig - the usual 10 year old, the quarter cask, and the cask strength which is over 111 proof. Great stuff and since Laphroaig was one of my favorite scotches, a nice treat. Laphroaig is one of only a handful of Scottish distillers which still have their own maltings. You can find out more about this great scotch at laphroaig.com

Oh yes, before I go I want to tell you about the booth next to us. An "Artisan booth" (the cost of the space was determined by how you were classified - business, food and/or drink, alcoholic, artisian, etc.), Kitty Ferguson sold a variety of items but she had a good selection of her Photography for sale. If you are at all interested in some of the scenes from Scotland and other places you should visit her web site Celtic Concepts. Unfortunately, she doesn't have it up yet - she has the name but the site is still under construction. Until she gets her site up, you can e-mail her at [email protected]

>> 'til next time - DW <<

June 01, 2006

I've been playing with the site lately, trying to fix broken links, do some reasearch on keywords, update the pages, etc. Part of that was going back to SelfPromotion.com just to look around and see how much I had forgot. If you have a web site and want it to attract more traffic, I highly recommend this site as a very good starting place for developing your site.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

May 22, 2006

Just ran into a couple of new things today - LibraryThing and SelectThing. SelectThing is for using Library Thing more efficiently so more about that in a minute. LibraryThing is a site for cataloging your books. Free up to 200 books, it costs a whopping $10 a year for more than that and if you really want to splurge, a one time fee of $25 will pay for a life time membership. Note, they say that the fees are for an unlimited number of books, but if you list over several million, they may ask you to pay an additional fee.

Since the catalog for everyone is a giant data base, you can also use LibraryThing to find people with similar libraries, get suggestions from people with your tastes and so forth. Private information is just that, private. And you decide what is private, the site doesn't. You don't need an e-mail address, although you can list one if you want. Your real name? Who cares! (well actually you probably do, but you don't have to share it). You can also tag your books (put them in categories), but you make up the categories. Some standard ones might be suggested, but you make up your mind. Write and share reviews of your own books or someone elses. Sometimes it's good to share and I think this is one of those times. I just started, so I only have one book up. But you can can check out user (and soon to be lifetime member) deadslow from time to time.

About SelectThing. It is an extension to the FireFox browser which makes adding books to your LibraryThing account convenient and unintrusive: you just select text, right-click, and choose "Search on LibraryThing" from the menu. Certainly worth having if you join LibraryThing. Check it out at about SelectThing

>> 'til next time - DW <<

May 08, 2006

Are you going to
The 28th Annual
Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar
A Seminar for Booksellers, Librarians, and Collectors

The cost is $1095 ($1195 after June 1) with a $350.00 deposit required by July 10th, 2006, so it is for those who are serious about their books. And for those who are, it is well worth the time. There is a discount if you've been before or can get your company to send more than one participate. The Seminar is held at The Colorado College in beautiful Colorado Springs, in the shadow of Pikes Peak. Sessions are convened in the Worner Campus Center-Gaylord Hall.

The Antiquarian Book Seminar is designed for people of all levels of experience, from beginners to those with years of experience who want to hone their skills in this rapidly changing field. Those who have taken the course before will note that all lectures have been updated, new faculty added and additional computer and software demonstrations included.

This year it looks like there might be a little more emphasis on online bookselling as Chris Volk (bookfever.com) is a new member of faculty. Chris Volk is a member of the IOBA and a member of the advisory group for Biblio.com.

BTW: Think you would like to go but would like some help paying the costs. The ABAA Benevolent Fund is offering a number of scholarships to the 2006 Antiquarian Book Seminar and two are being offered by the Rocky Mountain Booksellers Association.

Questions can be addressed to [email protected]

>> 'til next time - DW <<

April 25, 2006

Well we finally have 10 book reviews and I'm moving the Book Reviews to its own page. I still have this satiable urge to write. Satiable, as you can see by the length of time between entries here, although lately, I've been getting 2 or three entries ahead. Not that it does any good because I either loose the entries or forget about them.

One I completely forgot about was about this nice little package I've been using for a while called Arachnophilla - described by the author/developer as a "Web page editor and workshop". Now I sure a lot of you have heard about Freeware (free for at least non-commercial use) and Shareware (try before you buy and, if you find it useful and want to keep it, pay something to the developer). This piece of software is something different - it's CareWare. What is CareWare? The author of this neat little program has a page about this too at The CareWare Idea. There's quite a discussion but, as the author says at one point, an acceptable payment is to stop whining about how hard your life is, at least for a while. That's not the only acceptable payment. In fact, if you really insist, there is no payment - it's free. What will Arachnophilla do? Quite a lot. So much, I haven't explored the possibilities. One thing it does do which I use quite a bit is to beautify the HTML which also shows/states open tags. Anyway, if you are looking for an "plain and simple" html editor or one which has the capability of doing almost anything under the sun, you should check out Arachnophilla.

BTW, if you are even a little technical oriented, check out the other pages on the site while you are there.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

March 27, 2006

A rant today on the cost of listing books and some information for book buyers on saving money on the cost of their books.

ABE [The Advanced Book Exchange] is raising the costs to its Booksellers again. It seems like whenever you turn around now-a-days, the multi-dealer listing sites are raising the prices they charge their listing dealers. Alibris added a monthly fee not to long ago. This on top of the 15% to 20% they charge a dealer for selling their book. Now, I'm not against these sites making money. In fact, I want them to make money because if they don't make money I will make less money when they go out of business.

But what is a fair cost to the bookdealer for selling their book through someone like Alibris. My feeling is that it shouldn't cost more than about 10% but that has sometimes become a little unrealistic if you want to sell your books and make a living. So, maybe as much as 15%. Now, strangely I've found that our sell though rate on the multi-dealer sites changes little within a price limit of about 15% - 20%. That is, I'm about as likely to sell a book on one of the multi-dealer listing sites if I list a book for $10 or if I list it for $11.50 - $12. Well, why don't I list it at the $12 then and just forget it. Well I happen to think our customers should provide us a fair profit, but I don't think we should charge them more than the providing us the fair profit. Naive? We don't happen to think so, but then we have other ideas which friends find a little strange but never-the-less accept.

But back to the cost of listing books on the multi-dealer sites. Given the way we feel, we raise the price of the books on those sites which charge us more then the "10% of sales". For example, suppose the overall cost to list on Alibris is 25% including fees and commission. Since Alibris does the credit card processing for sales on their site, I would subtract about 5% from that figure [we also believe cc fees are a part of doing business these days, so we can't really charge Alibris for those fees]. So this comes down to Alibris charging us 20%. If I raise my prices on Alibris 12.5%, it will only cost me 10% of my normal price for the book. But what about the customers? Didn't I just say we shouldn't overcharge them. That's true, but we aren't, Alibris is. And so is ABE and Amazon, two other sites we list on.

Now, that's my take on the situation. Some dealers think they should just pay a flat listing fee and no commission. There may be as many thoughts about the situation as there are bookdealers. But one thing is certain. A very large number of bookdealers markup their inventory on the 3 A's and it is likely that you can save some money by buying directly from the dealers rather than through any of the 3 A's. In fact some IOBA dealers discount their books on

How do you find the way to deal directly with the dealer. Generally you can google them.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

March 20, 2006

Blogs seem to be the rage now. My favorite is Bibliophile Bullpen with contributors jgodsey and lynn deweese-parkinson and the occasional guest blogger. You might remember jgodsey from the review Joan did on DISCARDED BOOKS, The Facelift for Ex-library Books or the mention of her Book Deodorizer on our Book Care page. Lynn DeWeese-Parkinson is the list owner and Grand Poohbah of the Bibliophile Mailing list.

Unlike this set of ramblings, the Bull Pen has something going on every day. Looking at todays contributions you can find a link for two early Milne Poohs up for auction for a worthy cause, something for those who like complicated poetry forms, a free personals site for science fiction lovers, cover judging (with a nice picture of the cover of an early pulp A Man Called Spade), and a link for the UCSB music collection which is an incredible archive of early 20C American music. And this is just the 11:51 AM entry.

A list of blogs/newsletters dealing with the book world and more include:

>> 'til next time - DW <<

March 13, 2006

We just recently started selling on Amazon (about four months ago). One of the very important things at Amazon is feedback. I've actually had another bookdealer tell me that their "customer" held them up just so they wouldn't get bad feedback. Luckily we haven't run into that yet, but we did get a 4 (out of 5) the other day. Now 4 out 5 is 80% and, when I was going to school, 80% wasn't a bad grade. In fact I think 75 to 84 was a C. So 80 is a middle C. Not great, but not earth shakingly bad. But, if you have a 4 average on Amazon, you might as well fold up your tent and sneak silently into the night.

So you can imagine we felt pretty bad. Actually the comment wasn't bad - "Very efficient transaction." . The feedback itself (not the numerical grade) was better than the 5 comment we got a few days after that - "No problems!" . Maybe its just me but I think the first comment deserved a B and maybe that's what the person meant. The second comment? I need to ask my grandson about that but it seems to me it is about a C or maybe a low B. Our average feedback score is 4.964 or 99.28%, a solid A. That's more like it.

BTW: You're better off buying on our site, especially if you're a repeat customer. Repeat customers on our site get a 10% discount, even for special orders.

Some of our feedback from Amazon:
  • "Highly recommend - book was protected in wrap and packaged with extreme care - excellent seller - thanks!"
  • "No problems!"
  • "As evident from the care in shipping and handling, this vendor offers great value in terms of product as well as care for the value of the transaction for the customer."
  • "Awesome Seller/Thanks!"
  • "Fast shipping, book in very good condition."
  • "better than described with fast delivery"
  • "Item as described, fast delivery, many thanks"
  • "Book came in good shape as expected. Thank you."
  • "Very efficient transaction."
  • "good speed and service"
If you would like to see all of our feedback, see White Unicorn Books feedback

>> 'til next time - DW <<

February 27, 2006

top Most of you know that there is usually no state sales tax on the internet. That is, unless you sell the taxable item inside your own state. For us here at White Unicorn Books, it means we have to pay sales tax on items we sell to customers in Texas. Well, Lubbock and Hood County just recently got paid their Texas local taxes from White Unicorn Books. The total amount due for them, 2 cents each. We paid local taxes to AMARILLO, ANTHONY, ARLINGTON, AUSTIN, CARROLLTON, CLEBURNE, COLLEGE STATION, DALLAS - CITY, FAIRVIEW, FORT WORTH, GEORGETOWN, GRAPEVINE, HARLINGEN, HOUSTON, IRVING, LAKE JACKSON, LUBBOCK, PEARLAND, PLANO, ROBINSON, SAN ANGELO, SAN ANTONIO, WIMBERLEY, AUSTIN MTA, DALLAS MTA, FORT WORTH MTA, HOUSTON MTA, SAN ANTONIO ATD, SAN ANTONIO MTA, BRAZORIA, BRAZOS, EL PASO, HAYS, HOOD, LUBBOCK, MCLENNAN, TOM GREEN, EL PASO CO ES DIS NO2, FORT WORTH CRIME CONTROL, and WIMBERLEY VIL LIB DIST. Not all local taxing authorities in Texas since there are actually 41 pages of them in the Texas Sales and Use Tax Rates book. Who are these state and local taxing "authorities" in Texas:
  • State - 6.25% tax is imposed on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods, as well as taxable services.
  • City - Texas cities can add up to 2%.
  • County - Texas counties can add whatever part of the 2% the cities don't up to 1.5%.
  • Transit - Texas transit authorities can add whatever part of the 2% the city and county doesn't up to 1%.
  • Special Purpose Districts - Texas special purpose districts can add whatever part of the 2% the city, county, and transit authority doesn't up to 2%.
The maximum tax rate is 8.25% and one might wish that all cities added that extra 2.0% local sales tax. Why? Because then the merchant wouldn't have to worry about the county, transit, and special district taxes. Take Canyon Lake for example. If they added their 2%, then when we made a sale there, we wouldn't have to put down Comal County (0.5%), Canyon Lake Lib Dist (0.5%), and Comal Co ES Dist No 3 (1%). Another example is Dallas. The city charges an additional 1% local tax. Because none of the counties Dallas is in (Collin, Dallas, Denton, Kaufman, and Rockwall)charge a local tax the transit authority (Dallas MTA) can and does charge a full 1%. That really makes it simple, only two entries for local tax. But can you imagine what would happen if each of the counties charged a different tax rate. You hope the MTA would still charge their maximum. Because then, for a sale in Dallas, you would have to put down a state tax of 6.25%, a city tax of 1%, and, depending on the address one of "only" five different taxes for the county and MTA. If the MTA didn't charge their maximum? Well, with up to, say, four special purpose districts in each county, you might have to put down one of twenty possible tax rate sets depending on just where that sale was made in Dallas. Multiply this by 50 states.

Now you know why there is usually no state sales tax on the internet. I sure hope it stays that way. At least until the taxing structure becomes a lot less complicated than even the "simple mess" in Texas. They are working on it though, see Internet Tax Plan Emerges - Again

BTW: Texas customers get a special discount from us - we pay their Texas state and local taxes. But everyone can get a 10% discount when reordering from our site. That is, when you make a purchase you will receive a special code for use on future purchases which will give you a 10% discount. Try it, you'll like it!

>> 'til next time - DW <<

February 21, 2006

In about July of last year I wrote something about PeanutButter Wiki or pbwiki. Pbwiki is a commercial wiki farm run by David Weekly. Free, ad-free, password-protected wikis can be set up in about as much time as it takes to make a sandwich, hence the name. Wikis can be made in all kinds of flavors: public, but not publicly editable; private; editable by a select few [those the owner of the website select], etc. You can create your own wiki here. Just click on the link, make up a name for your wiki, give your e-mail address and start your own page.

Why am I writing about it again? They are offering to double my space if I write something about them and I'm not sure that July of last year nor the occasional mention otherwise counts as a write up. After all, that was before they made their offer. Am I such a special guy that I was only one of a few to whom the offer was made. I don't think so. Anyone could double their space by writing about pbwiki. The problem is, the offer ends tomorrow. What! It ended the 15th and I missed it? That's what I get for not reading my mail. Oh well, c'est la vie. They are worth writing about again.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

February 15, 2006

I was helping Joan today by listing some books. I did get a complete box full examined and priced today. I even added a few books to Amazon's catalog with their "create a product page". As usual, I got carried away with a couple of the books and maybe did more looking around and thinking about the books than some people usually do. Some, in fact most, of the books I looked at today had to do with the insurance industry, from history ( The American Life Convention 1906-1952: A Study of the History of Life Insurance, Volumes I & II ) to the "standard" for rating insurance companies ( Best's Digest of Insurance Stocks-Thirty-Fourth Annual Edition 1964 ).

The one that really made my take some time out was the insurance history book. I got to looking at some of the tables in Volume I and came to the conclusion that, according to the insurance industries own figures, the insurance industry was way overcharging us for life insurance. Now, I don't mean that they shouldn't make a decent profit and, heck, given the current state of affairs, maybe even a (small) indecent profit. But what I'm talking about is not just a large indecent profit, but a true skinning the public, raise a hue and cry and get the government involved type of profit. Well, according to their figures - barring accidents - we should live forever! IMO, that means they should truely lower their premiums! Just look at one of their charts (I've condensed it a little):

To interpret the table you look in the first column at your age and in the second column to see how long you are going to live. When you are born (age 0) you will live until you are 25. But, when you reach 25, you will live another 32 years until you are 57. When you 57, you will live another 12.4 years (you have to interpolate in the table). You can see where this goes, right? WHATEVER AGE YOU ARE YOU WILL LIVE LONGER SO YOU WILL NEVER DIE (barring accidents of course). Now don't you agree the insurance companies are overcharging us and we should be raising a hue and cry about their rates?

BTW: The figures in the table came from Roman Life Expectancy. The page gives several tables and graphs which present life insurance sadistics (whoops statistics) in an interesting manner.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

February 10, 2006

Time for another Book Review.

Title: The Everlasting Exiles
Author: Wallace West
The copy reviewed is the first US printing by Avalon Books, NY in 1967 (the book was published simultaneously in Canada).

After America and Russia land on the moon at about the same time, they take their arguement before the World Court to settle who really has legal possesion of the moon. In the meantime, William Hamilton Bentham III dozed at his favorite window in the University Club and dreamed about a civilization long gone. But that civilization had impressed humans before they disappeared and the results now could be devastating for our world. One of the "awakened Fledges", Mura, was in the man left behind on the moon. But Mura was insane and determined to drop a cobalt bomb on Moscow under the mistaker idea that Earth was the Fledges ancient enemy. Bentham, Glath (the awakened Fledge in Bentham), the thirteen year old slum girl, and Tina (the awakened Fledge in her) must stop Mura before she starts what would be the final war on Earth.

As with most of West's novels, this is an expansion of one of his earlier stories published in the magazines (in this case the Jan, 1951 issue of Future). The story does suffer slightly from the expansion. It has all the faults and fun of the earlier "space operas" when it is best not to look too closly at the possibility of the action but rather just suspend your disbelief and enjoy a good read.

From Wikipedia,the free encyclopedia:
Wallace West (1900-1980) was an American science fiction writer. He began publishing in 1927 with the story "Loup-Garou" in Weird Tales. The majority of West's work, which appeared prior to the 1960s, was short fiction, although he occasionally did turn his hand to writing novels. His novels, mostly published after World War II, were mostly re-workings of his pre-war short fiction.

Other Novels by Wallace West:
  • Alice in Wonderland (1934)
  • Betty Boop in Snow-White (1934)
  • The Bird of Time (1959)
  • The Memory Bank (1962)
  • River of Time (1963)
  • The Time-Lockers (1964)

>> 'til next time - DW <<

January 31, 2006

I was looking around the web the other day and ran across the term "Recursive Science Fiction". What is it? It's a science fiction story that refers to science fiction (authors, fans, collectors, conventions, etc.). I found out there was a book "An Annotated Bibliography of Recursive Science Fiction" compiled by Anthony R. Lewis, which was published by NESFA Press . You can order the updated copy [Nov 3, 2004] online at Recursive SF but you had better hurry. They are going to let it go out of print and replace it with the web based version.

Speaking of NESFA, did you know they were founded in 1967 and are one of the oldest Science Fiction fan clubs in New England. Their annual convention, Boskone, is going to be held February 17-19, 2006 at the Sheraton Boston in, where else, Boston, Massachusetts.

Guest of Honor................................ Ken MacLeod
Official Artist................................... Donato Giancola
Special Guest.................................. Cory Doctorow
Featured Filker............................... Steve Macdonald
Hal Clement Science Speaker........ William K. Hartmann
NESFA Subscribing Membership dues: $16 per year. Anyone can join!
NESFA PRESS BOOKS at the White Unicorn.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

January 20, 2006

I just read about someone who was ripped off by an on-line book dealer. I really don't like seeing these kind of stories because it can make other people afraid to deal on-line and it shouldn't. But, at the same time, the stories remind us to be cautious and we should be. So maybe it balances out.

One of the interesting items about this article was a link to
The Squeaky Wheel. For $5.00 US this site will put your story up on the internet and send an e-mail to company complained about each time the page is viewed. This is suppossed to "tell the company" that they have probably lost another customer so that they will deal with the original complain. (I don't know what keeps the person making the complaint from just coming back time after time and racking up the e-mails sent.) I'm not sure it really does any good but it can give some people a satisfying feeling just to let others know they have been ripped off. Other companies which do this for free include
  • Complaints.com Complaints.com is a free site for all visitors, including consumers and businesses.

  • Blagger.com/ Blagger.com is designed to allow the general public to leave comments on companies and individuals who they have used.

  • ConsumerAffairs.com They don't publish all complaints. If fact, they collect complaints so that they can "watch for trends -- consumer problems that seem to be representative, so that someone can read through the site and find situations that he or she might very well encounter. This helps consumers avoid falling into the same trap. At least we hope it does."
But, what about that on-line book dealer I was reading about? Well I wrote them and am waiting for a response. We'll see what turns up.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

January 11, 2006

Happy New Year! A couple of questions to answer today:

  • I have 26 childrens history books from the Cornerstones of Freedom Series. What are the other books in the series and are they worth anything? I've tried various online appraisers. The free ones don't offer any information and the rest want me to join a club or something.

    You generally won't get an appraisal without paying for it. You can, however, approximate a value of a book (or set of books) by looking at other prices on the internet and comparing your books to them. Condition of both the book and dust jacket (if it originally came with one) are both very important to how a book is priced.

    One place to look is
    Bookfinder. Put in a title and author and see what you come up with. A lot of the Cornerstone of Freedom Series books in Very Good or better condition sell in the under $5 range even for the older books.

    Bibliomania has a page giving
    alphabetical list of the Cornerstones of Freedom series. For a different listing Paula's Archives offers a chronological list of the Cornerstones of Freedom series.

  • I have a book that doesn't seem to come up on any search engines. It's a very small, leather bound book. No date, but published by Barse & Hopkins, NY. Title is "A Little Book of Verses" and is 63 pages long. Any help out there for me to know its date and worth?

    From RedLightGreen

    Little Book Of Verses, by Eugene Field
    1 edition published in 1912 in English.

    Author: Field, Eugene, 1850-1895.
    Title: A little book of verses / by Eugene Field.
    Publisher: New York : Barse & Hopkins, publishers, [1912].
    Edition Date: 1912
    Language: English
    Physical Details: 63 p., [1] leaf of plates : col. ill. ; 12 cm.

    The illustrator could greatly influence the price.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

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