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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

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.

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Dec 27, 2009

Well, the last post. There appears to be no way I can keep up with posting something here even at the rate of once a week. I still do work around the site, see the The Oxford Lectern Bible page for example, but what with other comminments taking up more and more time, I have to quit pretending I might make this a real blog sort of page with more than just sporatic posts. I have enjoyed writing the blurbs when I get around to it, but round tuit's are in very short supply for me recently, and, it appears, for the forseeable future.

>> maybe again one of these days - DW <<

Nov 09, 2009

The world of books and booksellilng is a strange one. It is one profession where the businessman regulary gives discounts to their 'rivals', other booksellers. In fact, a lot of booksellers think of other booksellers as their colleagues rather their rivals. It is also a profession where it has been said "To get a group of booksellers to agree on any rules is like trying to herd cats." It is (almost) impossible.

However, one thing that many booksellers agree on is the 'unethical' practices of Better World Books (BWB). There are several reasons I find them objectionable and I thought I would mention one today for my occasional rant and tilting at windmills.

The latest in the BWB story is told in a 'press release', see the Main Antique Diegest story. BWB stretched the truth quite a bit and didn't mention that the minimum $20,000 for an item on eBay was the second time it was offered on eBay. They pulled the original auction when they thought they might suffer from their mistake in not recognizing what they had. Booksellers underprice all the time, but generally they pay for their own mistakes and don't ask others to do so.

Oh, and by the way, that 'free shipping' they offer on their site from their market place sellers is because BWB raises the price the item to cover the normal shipping costs. Look on other sites where the dealer has the book listed and the price is cheaper. In some cases the S&H is cheaper also so the overall price is less.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

Nov 01, 2009

Well I missed the last two weeks due to some family business. I'll try not to do that too much.

You've heard me talk about BookTrakker before as the book inventory program we use. Well this week, I've been thinking about Checkit - an add in for BookTrakker. I really wasn't too sure about it but Joan wanted to try it and it looked like it might be worth it. For those of you who don't know (and there were some questions on the BookTrakker board), I thought I would give you my short take on the extras which come with the paid version of Checkit in a slightly different fashion than the documentation [which, IMO, covers all I'm going to say about Checkit].

First though, I'll remind you that you have to have a copy of your current inventory from Amazon. That is the Request Report Button and, after Amazon has notified you they have made the report via e-mail, the Download Report. You need to redo this every time the Amazon inventory changes, i.e. after making corrections. After getting the report, Checkit compares your BT inventory to your Amazon inventory in three ways and I'll talk about them in the order we generally do them:
  1. The ability to find out and/or correct the differences between BT inventory prices and Amazon inventory prices [the Reconcile Amz Prices operation]. When you click on the Reconcile button you can choose to either correct the BT prices to the Amazon prices - in which case your BT prices are changed OR correct Amazon prices to the BT prices - in which case those records are marked for upload.

  2. The ability to find out what Amazon has that you don't have in BT [the Show Amz Recs not in BT operation]. When you click the Show Recs button, you get a combination of two lists. The first list is those records that Amazon has that aren't in BT at all. For those, you need to log into Amazon and close them. The second list is those items on Amazon whose Status in BT is not AVAILABLE [ON HOLD, SOLD etc.]. For those you can manually mark the records for upload, do a hit list to mark the records for upload, or just do a purge and replace on Amazon.

  3. The third thing you can do is what, IMO, makes Checkit really valuable [the Update ASINs operation]. It allows you to list ALL of your inventory on Amazon [o.k. you might have to play with it a bit, but it is possible and, technically, you don't even have to have BT or Checkit for this part] AND allows you to add those ISBN's/ASINs/BASINs into BT without you're needing to look them up individually [this is the part you need the paid version of Checkit for]. When you click on the Update ASINs button, if you have items without ISBNs/ASINS/BASINs and Amazon has such in that Report you requested, they are copied to BT. If you have 'incorrect' ISBNs/ASINS/BASINs Checkit will 'correct' them for you [incorrect and correct in quotes because, as we all (should) know, Amazon isn't always correct. So watch this]

Even if you don't have any or very few pre-ISBN books, you may find that it is worth your while to buy Checkit if you list on Amazon. The free version will give you the numbers for those paid functions, i.e. there are 17 items where there is a price disagreement. If there are enough of these, it might be worth it in saved time to purchase Checkit.

BTW: I don't get paid for this testimonial except maybe in the sense that it has helped someone. So, if you feel like dropping us a line, we would be glad to hear from you.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

Oct 12, 2009

I mentioned book repair the other day and referenced several thing you could do for those books that weren't of enough value to have repaired by a professional. But what about those books which (might) need the professional touch. For those, you turn to someone like The Book Doctor. If you live in the Dallas area vist the store in the Bishop Arts District at 310 West 7th St.

When looking for a someone to fix your valuable books, you should be looking for restoration rather than just the simple repairs you could do yourself. Restoration includes not only repairing the book (mending torn pages,reattaching covers, etc.) but also adds choices such as cleaning leather covers and/or applying dye to restore their luster, resewing bindings, creating new covers, etc. The work should keep in mind the style and materials used for creating the book originally, i.e. type of binding, colored/patterned endpapers, reusing the spine if possible when rebinding, etc.

Conservation, as an added service, can take everything a step further to prevent present and future problems and could include consulting on steps to be taken for maintaining a private library or cleaning a book to remove bad acids.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

October 05, 2009

If you have read very many of these ramblings, you've probably seen mention of the Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA) and (hopefully) you have noticed that White Unicorn Books is a member of the IOBA.

I also think I've mentioned that the IOBA dealers have a web site where you can search the inventory of some of the IOBA dealers, IOBA Books. If you've been there before you may want to revisit because we've redesigned the site and if you haven't been there and are looking for books from dealers you can trust to 'get things right', you should. Anyway, here's part of the press release:
The Independent Online Booksellers Association is pleased to announce the launch of our new and improved book selling site, IOBAbooks.com. This upgrade features a new search engine with significant improvements in speed and performance, and a great new look and feel.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

Sep 28, 2009

Got a book you need repaired? What kind of book is it? If it is one of those that have only sentimental value, you might want to repair it yourself. You can learn a lot from the net and I've posted links here before about book repair. One very good set of links is on YouTube at Molly1216, otherwise know as j godsey. Here you'll find tips on
  • How to rehinge a book cover,
  • how to apply Leather Dressing,
  • how to remove a bookplate,
  • how to clean surface dirt,
  • and much much more.
And don't forget j also has a great book out on Book Repair and we even have some for sale Book Repair for Booksellers, A guide for booksellers offering practical advice on book repair [but it's really for more than just booksellers].

You might also want to look around Simple Book Repair Manual from Darmouth College.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

Sep 21, 2009

You ever wonder what the web was like back in the days of yore? The The Internet Archive Wayback Machine puts the history of the World Wide Web at your fingertips. Want to see the March 15, 2005 Ramblings Page or maybe the Nov 21, 2002 White Unicorn home page.

But, there's a whole lot more available than just exploring sites as they used to be. For example, you can search for Moving Images [think Animation & Cartoons or Non-English movies or ...], Texts [American Libraries, Canadian Libaries, ...], Audio, and other categories. As a bookseller, it is very interesting to see copies of the Bibliography of American Literature, Allibone Dictionary of English Literature and British and American Authors, and other reference books I wish I could afford. But at least now I can see those on line.

Anyway you just might want to look around. You never know what you will run into.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

Sep 12, 2009

I enjoy a good book like many of you out there but have you ever read (started to read) a book you don't think should have been written. Well Corrina Lawson has. In fact, there's a list of her 5 Science Fiction/Fantasy Books We Wish Had Never Been Written available and she even says why she thinks they shouldn't have been written.

For the most part, I'll let you read her reasons if you are so inclined but there is one (almost) complete series I have to agree with and comment on and that is the Gor series by John Norman. Back when we have a B&M in the mid to late '70's (Amber Unicorn in San Diego, CA) we carried the books as they came out because they were a part of the Science Fiction and Fantasy world and they were, for the most part, written well enough that some people enjoyed them. But, IMO, after the first several books, the adult subject matter and general mistreatment of women made them books not suitable for underage children. As Corrina mentions, Slave Girl of Gor is descriptive of the whole series after the first few books. I, like Corrina, include this here as a warning to parents to at least examine the books there children are reading even if they do look like the pulp fiction a lot of us enjoy.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

Sep 07, 2009

How fast do authors complete books? Well for James Patterson, the average is pretty darn fast. Over the next few years (through 2012), he will be averaging over four books a year. The Hachette Book Group has announced that it signed a deal with Mr. Patterson that would cover 17 books. The eleven books for adult readers will be released in hardcover by Little, Brown & Company and in paperback by Grand Central Publishing and include new storuies in his three series of bestselling detective novels. The remaining 6 would be handled by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and include new titles in the Maximum Ride and Daniel X series, and the Witch & Wizard series debuting this December.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

Aug 31, 2009

It's been quite a while since I read Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein (1907-1988) and I'm just starting to reread Michaelmas by Algis Budrys (1931–2008). What do these two books have in common - well just the best two, IMO of course, self aware computers depicted in the SF&F literature. I can't make up my mind which story I like best. Sometimes it's one, other times the 'ther. But since it's been a long time since my last review here and I am rereading Michaelmas right now, I'll review that one:

Title: Michaelmas
Author: Algis J. Budrys
Edition: Paperback, Berkley Publishibng Corp., July 1978
Although the book only covers a short span of time, a lot is packed into that one day. So, don't be surprised if, after reading the book, you feel it might have been several weeks. Michaelmas is an independent TV Reporter, and Domino began as a device so that Michaelmas could talk to his wife without charge.

The action begins with the announcement by Reuters that Walter Norwood, an American astronaut, is not dead. Since the fact that Norwood is still alive when he can't be, at least according to Dominio, and that fact may interfere with some of the plans Michaelmas has, he is off to Switzerland from his apartment in New York to find out what is going on. What he finds out is that he and Dominio may not be the only ones running the world.

A verg good story teller, Algis Budrys is more about the characters than about the gadgets. You even think of Dominio as belonging to the human species on Earth, although I am sure he would deny it strongly. There are moments where you just know he is still a kid growing into his job with Michaelmas as his teacher and telling him, for example, that he has to develope some intuition or maybe Dominio bragging a bit saying he has, at least a little. There doesn't appear to even be a real villain in the story. Just a group with a differt view of what the world should be like and opposing, maybe without even knowing it, the way Michaelmas and Domino think the world should evolve.

Algis Budrys has written a delightful book and I am fully happy with the book. It is another of those that I would reccommend to almost everyone I know and definately to the public at large. BUT, if it could have been done, I sure would have liked to have more on Michaelmas and Dominio.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

Aug 23, 2009

Have you noticed the price of books recently, say within the last several years. The list price seems to be staying the same but discounts abound on many of the new and (moderately) common books. The competition for the readers dollar has become very fierce and that's without even counting the competitioni from the e-books. Repricing programs drive some books down to the proverbial penny (plus S&H). It's gotten to the point where some dealers are making their living on the skim from the S&H.

But mega-sellers living on penny books aren't the topic today, repricing is. One of the things I work on in addition to helping my wife with the bookstore is to write repricing scripts. Repricing can be tricky. If you do a simple penny less than the other guy/gal, you can soon price-wreck the book. That is, drive the price down to where only large sellers shipping many many books can make a profit on them.

If you're interested in some of the considerations in re-pricing, you might want to look at our page on (Semi)Automatic Repricing.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

Aug 18, 2009

What's this, a car that gets 230 mpg. Well thats what it looks like the EPA is going to give The Chevrolet Volt Actually the car goes about 40 miles on roughly $0.40 or so worth of electricity depending on where you live. Turning that into an equivalent gasoline cost at $2.50 per gallon for gasoline is about 0.16 gallon or an equivalent of about 250 mpg. So maybe the 230 mpg is not such a bad number since most of us drive less than 40 miles a day (three out of four of us according to the article).

All of that sounds good and it may even be coming for free. I'm seeing a car that maybe would cost tops $20K if it were a gasoline powered car and is going to cost maybe $30 - after the subsidy from GM if they do that and after the $7.5K tax credit unless of course, it is structured like some of the earlier ones which limited your credit. Life cycle of the battery is expected to be about 10 years from what I can find arond the web, so, unless you are one of those who keep their car 'forever', you won't have to replace the battery. On trade in, you might expect a couple of K more if you still have a good life left in your battery, call it $4K.

So, if things work out very well, it will cost us upward of $6K extra to own this high milage vehicle for, say 3 years (about the average trade cycle although it is moving up according to the AAA). Suppose you drive about 11000 miles at 40 miles per day. Normally, at $2.50 per gallon and 17 mpg, that would cost you about $1500/year more than the costs at 230 mpg, or over the three years you keep the car, you would save $4.5K in gasoline costs and your 'final bill for owning the car' would be about $500 a year. If you stretched the time out to 4 years of owning the car, you would break even, not counting the beneficial effect on the environment. So, counting the beneficial effect on the environment, it looks like it would be a good idea to get one next year when they come out. BTW: When I first started this piece, I had a 'All of that sounds good, but it isn't coming for free nor anywhere close to it' and had to change it. Even if my numbers are a little off somewhat, it looks like the initial costs wouldn't be more than $500/year or so. If you add to that the very likely steep rise in gasoline prices and the economies of scale as Chevrolet (and others) increase production, owning an electric car could well become less expensive than owning a gasoline car.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

Aug 11, 2009

The Hugo Awards is one of science fiction's most prestigious awards and is awarded at the World Science Convention each year, this year in at Anticipation, the 67th Worldcon in Montreal with Guest of Honor Neil Gaiman. The awards are named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and given in various categories. The winners for 2009 are:
  • Best Novel: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Best Novella: "The Erdmann Nexus" by Nancy Kress
  • Best Novelette: "Shoggoths in Bloom" by Elizabeth Bear
  • Best Short Story: "Exhalation" by Ted Chiang
  • Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Best Graphic Novel: Girl Genius series by Kaja and Phil Foglio
  • Best Editor, Short Form: Ellen Datlow
  • Best Editor, Long Form: David Hartwell
  • Best Related Book: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded by John Scalzi
  • Best Semiprozine: Weird Tales by Ann VanderMeer and Stephen Segal
  • Best Fan Writer: Cheryl Morgan
  • Best Fan Magazine: Electric Velocipede (John Klima, editor)
  • Best Fan Artist: Frank Wu
  • (John W. Campbell Award: David Anthony Durham)
This is Frank Wu's fourth win which makes him tied for third in the number of wins for Best Fan Artist along with Bill Rotsler, Teddy Harvia (David Thayer), and Alexis Gilliland. Brad W. Foster has won six times and Tim Kirk has won five times.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

August 3, 2009

I saw a movie last night that reminded me of Dhalgren by Samuel Delany. Not that the movie was anything like the novel in the story line but, like Dhalgren, The Lucky Ones picked up the story in the middle of someones life (actually three someones lives), ran until the writer got tired of writing (the camera ran out of film) and ended.

When Dahlgren came out we had a small SF&F bookstore in San Diego. Most people either loved the book or they hated it. There were a few, like me, who didn't have that strong a reaction and most of us would reccommend the book to others only if we though they would like it. Delaney's first novel was The Jewels of Aptor and I preferred that writing to something like Dahlgren and the following novel Triton: An Ambiguous Herotopia in 1976 which has been called both a masterpiece and unreadable. Delany had won four Nebula Awards by the time he was 26.

The Lucky ones, Director Neil Burger, Writers Neil Burger and Dirk Wittenborn, picks up three young soldiers, Cheaver (Tim Robbins), Colee (Rachel McAdams), and T.K. (Michael Peña) on their way back to the US from Iraq and ends as they - well that would be telling. But suffice it to say, after a few week in their life and right in the middle of the story.

You could do worse than read the one and watch the other. I think most people will be glad they did.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

July 27, 2009

I was running around the web and came across another piece about Tim Miller who apparently just sold a paperback for quite a bit of money (a $1000 or more I believe). For those of you who don't know, Mr. Miller is probably best know for his stance that a plain signature, i.e. a Flatsigned item, is worth more than an inscribed item. Well many disagree with him, see for example the Firsts article by Ken Lopez reprinted on his website at, Signed vs. Inscribed and the Spring 2005 IOBA The Standard article (Vol VI, No. 1) by Barry R. Levin, Is a "Stand-Alone" Signature Better?.

Other disagreements abound on the web but that isn't the complete story. One other side has to do with the disrespect apparent in the writings found around the web. One example is the Aug 24, 2008 post FlatSigned follow-up : 'The Cartel' Responds on the P-I Reader Blog (written by readers, for readers) page. As for me, I believe it is entirely possible that John Dunning's novel, The Sign of the Book, could have been partially inspired by Tim Miller. Because of that, I wouldn't buy a book from Tim Miller unless it was priced as an "unknown signature on the title page".

>> 'til next time - DW <<

July 23, 2009

Have you ever wanted to own a rare book? Say something like "Notes on Nursing: What it is and what it is not" written in 1898 by Florence Nightingale. Well a copy of quite a few rare and one-of-a-kind titles have been made available as print on demand (POD) copies available with the recent University of Michigan reprint agreement.

Right now, the books will be available on Amazon but that is not an exclusive agreement and other potential printing and distribution partners will be developed in the future. Some 10,000 public domain titles are availible now and titles will be added as they are digitized. All of the titles offered for reprint are books or other publications that exist in the U-M Library collections. The U-M will determine the list price of each book based on the length and size of the book.

Some of the title are available as e-books for free on Project Gutenbery and even the U-M site.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

July 21, 2009

First Amazon and now Scribner. Although the actions were different, they both are messing with what we read in a bad way.

Amazon has decided that they control the value of e-books even after they sell them to you. They can erase your copy of a book on your Kindle after they have been paid and decide that you will sell it back to them at a price they choose. Well, maybe that's a little much, but as long it is at least what you paid for it, you have no recourse but to accept their offer. The latest Amazon erasure is George Orwell’s Animal Farm but there have been others. For example, there were the Ayn Rand titles which suddenly disappeared from everyones Kindle last year.

Scribner is doing things a little bit differently. They are rewriting the authors book in a big way. I'm not talking about editing, I'm talking about deleting some chapters and rewriting them or just moving them to an appendix. In the particular case at hand, the author can't say anything because he, Ernest Hemingway, is dead and the apparent 'copyright holder', his grandson, doesn't like the way the book treats his grandmother. Read more from A. E. Hotchner's article Don’t Touch ‘A Moveable Feast’

>> 'til next time - DW <<

July 20, 2009

The Monday funnies or maybe not so funnies. I ran across an article on Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) the other day and though I would pass along some of the information just in case some of you out there aren't familiar with the substance. DHMO is a colorless and odorless chemical compound, also referred to by several other names including Dihydrogen Oxide and Hydric acid.

Although its basis is the highly reactive hydroxyl radical, a species shown to mutate DNA, denature proteins, disrupt cell membranes, and chemically alter critical neurotransmitters, the U.S. Government and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has not classify Dihydrogen Monoxide as a toxic or carcinogenic substance (as it does with better known chemicals such as hydrochloric acid and benzene).

For more about this substance including information about supporting a ban on this substance please visit the Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division (DMRD). As the award-winning U.S. scientist Nathan Zohner reported, if more people knew the truth about DHMO then studies like the one he conducted (indicating 86 percent of the population supports a ban on dihydrogen monoxide) would not be necessary.

BTW: I didn't see it mentioned specificially on the site, but if a book comes in contact with this stuff it can ruin a perfectly good book.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

July 19, 2007

Doing some clean up today. I had put the post on the Book Inventory Programs on its own page and updated it today so I just clipped the post and put in a link.

I'm reading the fifth book in the Mage World series by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald. I've found this series better than some where, after the first couple of books, the series starts to run down. Another pair I don't think I'll ever get tired of is Steve Miller and Sharon Lee, especially their Liaden Universe series.

Did you know? Since 2004, Biblio.com has used a portion of its profits to build 7 public libraries in impoverished regions of South America.

Did get a comment on this page even if it were just a request for a link it is nice to know someone reads this. You could leave a comment also, just look up top for the "comments - click to read or post."

>> 'til next time - DW <<

July 12, 2009

Charles N (Charlie) Brown (1937-2009), editor and Grand Pooh-Bah at Locus died peacefully in his sleep July 12, 2009 on his way home from Readercon - see announcement at Locus Online.

Charlie co-founded Locus with Ed Meskys and Dave Vanderwerf but continued it long beyond the original planned 1 year period. Locus, with Charlie and Dena as editors, won the first of its 29 Hugos in 1971 for best Fanzine. Locus has almost monopolized the Hugo semiprozines award throughout its 25-year history.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

July 11, 2009

Well a little over a year and a half. I though I would start again and see what I could do. Maybe even talk about it out side the site itself. First thing is to see if this registration at Tecnorati works. As told I'm publishing the following code:


Technorati is a popular blog directory service. It measures the popularity of a given blog as compared to all other sites that have been submitted to its system. If you have a blog, you should sign up and submit your blog, it's free.

>> 'til next time - DW <<

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