Books still to collect: 81

Friday, 29 April 2011

The Mystery of the Trail of the Kidnapped Collector

That hardback Marks and Spencer edition has come in the post:The DJ is a bit torn at the top edge, the book itself is in good order. This is the only way to get these later stories in hardback in the UK, so this is a worthwhile volume to pick up. Not too sure about the quality of the stories in here, though. It’s been a while since I read any of them, but I seem to remember Cranky Collector being a tad poor and The Kidnapped Whale a tedious piece of nonsense about bad guys training a beached whale to steal sunken treasure. Conventional wisdom appears to be that the only good Three Investigators stories were those written by Robert Arthur and the rest are all (more or less) crap. I would disagree to an extent and say that the best books in the series included those by Robert Arthur and William Arden. And all the rest are (more or less) crap. I’ll need to do a more scientific analysis and see if this theory holds any water. Watch this space, fellow bloggers.

Nothing to Moan About

And here’s the other one I got from The Children’s Bookshop in Hay-On-Wye:I didn’t go there personally, you understand, just checked out their website. Which is something I urge you to do if you want to have fantastic books like this in your collection. Altogether now: “Aaaaaahhhhhh-ooooooooooooo-ooooo-oo!”

This is my all-time favourite Three Investigators story, by my all-time favourite Three Investigators author, in my all-time favourite Three Investigators format with my all-time favourite Three Investigators cover art = my all-time favourite Three Investigators book! Nectar!

Now You’re Talking

This is one of two books that I sourced at the Children’s Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye:
A very nice small hardback Talking Skull. Some minor bumping to edges does not detract from what is a really nice cover. The hardback collection is coming together quite nicely.

Nice Catch

Have a look at this lovely small hardback Crooked Cat that has just arrived courtesy of an Abebooks dealer who had the decency to answer my query as to whether it was a hardback book or not, correctly:Very clean pages and nice tight binding = never been read. The spine is a wee bit faded, but not enough to upset me; trust me folks, this is a little cracker.

Thursday, 21 April 2011


How easy is it going to be to complete this collection? I have already stated my general strategy, i.e. concentrate on the hardbacks and let the paperbacks take care of themselves. I don’t think that there is really such a thing as a “rare” paperback Three Investigators book, although certainly some will be more difficult to find than others. From many years experience in buying Three Investigators books, here is my view on the relative difficulty you will find in obtaining the various editions:
Large Hardbacks
These can be split roughly into three groups. Books 1-16 and 18 will be the easiest to find in this edition. Most of these had more than one print run and they should be relatively easy to find. Books 17, 19 -23 are in the second group. Of these, only Phantom Lake and Monster Mountain had more than one printing. My experience is that these show up occasionally, but not as often as the earlier titles. Books numbered 24 to 28 fall into the most difficult to find category. If you manage to find one of these with its dustjacket that is not an ex-library book, you should be kicking your height. Of these titles, I have only seen one Death Trap Mine (and that was in appalling condition), two Dancing Devils (both in poor condition), two Headless Horses (one I bought myself new, the other a poor ex-library copy), One Magic Circle (again a poor ex-lib copy) and one Deadly Double, again a poor ex-lib version.
Small Hardbacks
Books numbered #1-18 should be easy enough to come across, as several of the earlier titles had multiple reprints. Books numbered 19-24 fall into the rare category, as these only had one printing and are generally difficult to find. I would put them on par with some of the later large hardbacks to find, especially Monster Mountain, Haunted Mirror, Invisible Dog and Death Trap Mine. I think I have only ever seen one or two at most of these editions.
Paperback 1
These should all be very easy to find, with the possible exception of the first Vanishing Treasure imprint, which featured the cover with the boy brandishing a knife.
Paperback 2
Again, these are in plentiful supply, even the last one in this set, Shark Reef shows up frequently.
Paperback 3
This is where you will start finding difficulty in obtaining some titles. You may find, as I did, that many of these will be available as ex library copies. The last few titles in this format are not so easy to come by, with Smashing Glass, in my experience, the hardest of the lot to find.
Paperback 4
You may find these among the hardest to find. My old collection included several of these as ex-library books. You will probably find some of the later titles quite difficult to find, particularly Missing Mermaid, Two Toed Pigeon, Creep Show Crooks and Wrecker’s Rock, although none of them are anything like as common as paperback editions 1 and 2.
Paperback 5
Being the last imprint before the series went officially out of print, these books were heavily remaindered in book outlets such as Bargain Books and BookWorld. For some reason, I found many of these titles difficult to track down, but when I did find them, they were generally in very good condition. In fact, back when I was putting my last collection together, you could still find these in bookshops such as Waterstones, and I remember getting a brand new copy of Haunted Mirror in a bookshop in London to complete my set.
Three Investigators Omnibuses
You should not find much difficulty in adding any of these to your collection, beware though, as they are frequently in poor and well read condition. The Diamond editions were heavily remaindered through Bargain Books etc.
The early titles are fairly plentiful, the later ones slightly less so, however you should not experience much trouble in putting together a complete set quite quickly. The Crimebusters omnibuses are ten a penny. Don’t buy unless it is in mint condition, as there will be a better copy along soon enough. I suppose the true purist will want Mulberry and Diamond imprints in his collection.

Here I Go Again

Going down the only road I’ve ever known. This ebay listing caught my eye:
It doesn’t mention if it is a hardback or paperback, just that it is in VG condition. Now folks, as far as I am aware, the only omnibus edition that features these titles is not a paperback, but the frankly fantastic sumptuous hardback edition that was published by Collins as a store exclusive for Marks and Spencer. An absolutely super book, this, with dustjacket and properly stitched spine. Also, much better paper stock than any of the other books in the series. It is also the only hardback Three Investigators book to be published after the last of the original series, The Deadly Double, a decade earlier. Anyway, I have bought it and am awaiting its arrival. After my recent purchases, fuck knows what will arrive. As ever, fellow bloggers, you will be the first to know!

Glutton for Punishment

I ordered another great hardback from an Amazon seller, described as a “pictorial boards edition, published by Collins” and with this picture in the listing:An utter bargain at only £2.00. If you have been following the pattern of my recent purchases, you will know what to expect, and sure enough, this is the book that arrived:
Honestly, for fuck sake, what have I got to do? These people are causing me no end of heartache and grief and a huge waste of my time. Has anyone else had the same problem? This phenomenon of totally incorrect descriptions is not limited to the one online outlet. That’s eBay, Abebooks and Amazon dealers that have all pulled the same trick. Come on internet dealers, stop behaving like dicks and get your act together.

What else is in here?

In order to raise some cash to buy some more Three Investigators books, I sold some stuff on eBay. While I was in the garage getting my packing materials to mail some DVDs, I had another quick look in one of the boxes that live in there. I found this beauty:
A nice little Diamond omnibus. It got me wondering just what else is lurking in that garage. I seem to vaguely remember having at least one large hardback left over from my previous collection, possibly Crooked Cat or Shrinking House. I think I may have a really good root through the boxes next weekend, which is of course a bank holiday and what better a way to spend it than adding a large hardback to the collection.

Clever Box

This really nice boxed set has arrived in the post: It is the same as the one I already had, however I can assume that the contents of the box are as originally supplied. Anyway, the books are in pretty good condition and I quite like this. Also means that I have a boxed set in my doubles pile to put on eBay. That stack is growing quite a bit, so I will probably do some auction listing shortly. Check them out, folks for some Three Investigators bargains. At least my auctions will state whether the book is a paperback or not.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Cranky Collector

Remember that other hardback Phantom Lake that I bought from a dealer on eBay? If you recall, I was a bit wary as to whether it would be hardback, as the advert listed it as both paperback and hardback, published by Collins. Anyway, to be sure I was getting the right thing, here is the email I sent to the seller:…and here is his reply: Got that? Good. On the basis of this emailed reply, I went ahead and bought the book. Guess what arrived:This really does undermine your faith in the ability of eBay sellers to give anything approaching a decent standard of service. This must go down as quite the most fucking useless arsehole I have ever had the misfortune to deal with on eBay. What the fuck was he thinking of? Anyway, the plot thickens. I emailed him and told him he was a fucking useless dick and that I wanted my money back. Here is his reply: Did you notice that? EXACTLY THE SAME EMAIL WORD FOR WORD AS THE ABEBOOKS SELLER WHO ALSO SOLD ME A SO CALLED HARDBACK PHANTOM LAKE LAST WEEK! Clearly, I haven’t found two useless twats dealing on the internet, just the one useless twat, operating under two different names. Well, folks, I will live and learn. Since this happened, I have asked several Abebooks and Amazon dealers to check if books they had listed as hardbacks were in fact hardbacks. Only one has replied, to tell me that unfortunately, it was only a paperback. Not that he updated his advert though. What a bunch of useless arses.

And there we have it folks, the two hardback Phantom Lakes were in fact not. Back to the old drawing board, that hardback Phantom Lake must be there somewhere…

One to Treasure

Check out this lovely small hardback Vanishing Treasure: This was an AbeBooks purchase that has just arrived. Nice and clean with some of the usual bumping to the corners of the boards, it is in otherwise VG condition. That’s a nice run of small hardbacks I have amassed, including numbers 1-5 inclusive. Now where is that small Skeleton Island….?

The Mystery of the Secret of Phantom Lakes – SOLVED

Remember those Phantom Lake hardbacks I ordered recently? Well, the first one has arrived in the post:Eh?

It just goes to show how utterly useless some of these book dealers are on the web. The old saying, “they couldn’t run a bath” appears applicable here. Anyway, I emailed the Abebooks seller and asked for a refund. Here is his reply:

So fair enough. After all, I didn’t check with him that it was a hardback before I bought it, so at least I got my money back. The other one that is on its way is definitely a hardback, as I asked the seller before I placed my order, so fingers crossed for that one.

A Smashing Book

Here’s a little smasher that has just arrived: There was only one edition of this one, and it was never reprinted. It did, however, find its way into an omnibus edition that was put out by both Armada and Diamond. I don’t think that any of the paperback editions are what you would really describe as being “rare”, but I would say that along with Creep Show Crooks and Wrecker’s Rock, this is about as close as you can get to it. This copy has a bit of a worn cover, but is otherwise ok.

Crystallized Methamphetamine

Normally, my tactic for putting this collection together is to concentrate on the hardbacks and let the paperbacks accumulate naturally, via the acquisition of collections or through charity shops. Some of the later books in the series are a bit tricky to come by, however, so I picked up this nice Cranky Collector paperback this week. Cover is a bit rough, but otherwise a good addition to the collection, and not bad at less than £3.00 including postage.

Spied ‘Er on eBay

What an absolute cracker this one is folks! A large hardback Silver Spider from eBay has just arrived. In close to perfect condition, with no stains or tears to pages and very tight spine. No wear or major bumps to boards. Best of all, I got this for the maiden bid of only £2.50 plus £2.50 p&p. Over the moon, I am, this is a great result and frankly dirt cheap. Fuckin magic.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Monstrously Good Deal

The other book I bought from Amazon was this one: An absolute cracker, this, a large Monster Mountain with DJ that is not an ex-library copy. A rare beast indeed. There is a small tear at the top of the spine, where it looks like the book may have been dropped, however, this is disguised to an extent by the dustjacket, so it looks pretty good on the shelf. Another excellent large hardback for the collection, days like this you are glad to be alive.

On Reflection, a Great Buy

Check out this little beauty that has just arrived, courtesy of an Amazon dealer. It was described as an ex-library copy in plastic jacket. Once I removed said plastic jacket I found the dustjacket underneath to be in cracking condition. The book itself, well, it has a bit of a cocked spine, as can be expected, however the usual library stamps and torn pages are not in evidence, I can only assume that this has possibly been from a school library that treated its books a little more kinder that public libraries do. Anyway, it is a topper, this book, and actually better that the Haunted Mirror I used to have all those years ago. Not bad at all for £10 plus postage. My large hardback collection is taking shape.

The Case of the Bookcase

One of the questions that must be addressed when amassing such a collection as this is where will you keep the books? Some kind of excellent bookcase is going to be required, as I already have piles of Three Investigators books cropping up everywhere. So out I went to look for one. At the antique centre in Doune last year, I spotted a really nice sectional bookcase with glass front. It was priced at about £400. Fan me I hear you say, that’s a fucking lot, but after watching Cracking Antiques on BBC 2, I now know that, like buying Three Investigators books, buying shitey old furniture is an investment. So I nipped up to Doune to check out if they still had it. Alas, the barn that it was displayed in was closed with no sign of re-opening, so I left empty handed. Empty handed that is, after looking through the part of the antique centre that was open. Frankly, the stuff they had was exactly the same as what they had the last two times I was there. If you are reading this, Doune Antique Centre, CHANGE YOUR STUFF! Actually I had a nice scone and jam in the cafĂ©. This Three Investigators collecting lark has its benefits.

On the trail of a decent bookcase, I also went to the antique centre at Garrion Bridge. They didn’t have anything decent either, so I nipped down to the Clydeside Antiques centre. They did have exactly the bookcase I was after, but it had a big sticker on it declaring it had been “SOLD”. So I had a sniff around and I found this:

A Three Investigators Sized bookcase if ever I saw one. Complete with classy glass doors. And at only £35, surely the best bargain I’ve found since I started this collection. It smells a bit like old furniture, which goes well with my Three Investigators books, which smell a bit like old Three Investigators books. I reckon it will hold a full set of hardbacks and about a third of the set of paperbacks, so I will probably need something else at some point, but this will do for now. I actually bought a cheap bookcase for £20 in Argos last year for my flat. It’s shelves are already buckling under the strain. This one has been kicking around since the 1930s by the looks of things, so I know what was the better deal.

Here is what my collection now looks like:

Here it is in all its glory:

Nice, eh?

Monday, 11 April 2011

The Mystery of The Secret of Phantom Lakes

In order to make sure nothing was slipping by my grasp, I thought I would take a really close look at all of the Three Investigators books listed on eBay and AbeBooks. There are many book dealers who obviously sell large quantities of books on ebay who don’t feel the need to add a picture or describe their books in any kind of detail, even more so on AbeBooks. For example, one dealer will say that his books are in “good” condition and that this means that it has all of its pages but may show some wear. Anyway, I came upon this listing for a copy of Phantom Lake:

The strange thing here was that the item specifics stated that the book was a paperback:

but the auction listing details show it as a Hardcover:

Well, folks, it was fairly obvious what needed to be done. At the price of £2.70 including postage, if the book was in paperback, it probably wasn’t worth it. If, however, it was a hardback, then the old saying, “BITE HIS FUCKING HAND OFF” springs to mind. Really, £2.70 for any hardback, in almost any condition, is a bargain, but a hardcover Phantom Lake?? My god, it wouldn’t get any better than that.

So I emailed the seller and he replied that it was in fact a hardback. I immediately “bought it now” and am currently awaiting its arrival.

I then had a trawl through Abebooks and found another interesting listing. Co-incidentally, another Phantom Lake in hardback, offered at a sale price of 63p plus postage (a complete rip-off at £3.30). The publisher was listed as “HarperCollins”, however That can’t be right as it was, of course, Collins that published these books, HarperCollins didn’t exist until the after the Three Investigators hardbacks had all been published. It’s this kind of thing that makes you worry a wee bit that the seller doesn’t have a fucking clue. Anyway, I bought this book as well, not knowing if it was a large or small hardback. It could even have a dustjacket for all I know, I suppose I will find out soon enough, as will you, dear bloggers. So that’s the situation I find myself in, folks. Two Phantom Lakes are winging my way, and I won’t know what editions they are until they arrive. The ideal scenario, is of course, one large hardback with a dustjacket (hey you never know) and one small one, but frankly I’ll be happy with whatever turns up, even if I have to stick one as a doubler on to eBay. In my experience, the small hardback Phantom Lake is a much rarer beast than the large one, even though the large one normally commands a higher price. When did you last see a small hardback Phantom Lake? Hmmm? I think I’ve only ever seen one in my whole life.

Sorry to keep you all in suspense guys, I know you are all choking to find out about these books, obviously you will be the first to know what happens when they arrive. WATCH THIS SPACE!


This most awesome parcel has arrived: I know what you're thinking. Same as me: FUCKING JACKPOT! Check out the contents of this box of delights: What a beezer, folks!! This is the first big collection of Three Investigators books I have bought since I started this new collection. It was an eBay auction (naturally – what isn’t?) that I managed to get for a ridiculously cheap price. I’ll tell you just how ridiculous and cheap in a minute. The cream of the bunch, of course, these quite magnificent large hardbacks: Some minor fading to spines if I’m being hypercritical, but really the first three are in really excellent condition. That Moaning Cave is an absolute dillion. The remainder of the parcel contents were all paperbacks: Condition of the majority of these leaves a lot to be desired, especially the older ones. Condition improves the higher the book number, and although some are ex-library, there are some acceptable books here. The majority will probably need to be upgraded, though, however I reckon I won’t have too many problems finding better examples. There were also a couple of boxed sets present:
These had random books just stuck in them, so I’m not really sure what the original contents should be. If anyone has an idea, please let me know. Both boxes are in VG condition.

So, what did this lot of 39 books set me back? Believe it or not, £20.50 including postage! Fan me, how much cheaper do you want books to be? Those hardbacks would surely fetch around £15 each without any problem on eBay, so I reckon that this lot is worth at least £60 without even bringing all those paperbacks into the equation. The moral here, bloggers, is that bargains are still to be found out there, it’s just a matter of tracking them down.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Big Tiny's Excellent Donation

I received a most excellent email from blog follower big tiny recently, rather cryptically, it contained no text but only this picture: I asked him if he was trying to tease me with some hardbacks..His response? “Oh yes”. The next time I saw him, he presented me with these: How about that folks, not only four hardbacks, but a dustjacketted hardback Dead Man’s Riddle to boot! This constitutes the first dustjacket in my collection. The condition of some of these is, frankly, awful. The Silver Spider is heavily worn and taped and the ex-library Dead Man’s Riddle has come away from the spine at the front hinge: That Green Ghost, however, is really good; as good a copy as you could probably expect. These are all books that Big Tiny picked up when we were both on a Three Investigators collecting spree several years ago. I remember giving him a huge bag of Three Investigators books years ago, the idea was that we would swap any doubles or upgrades we got. Hopefully one day I will be able to upgrade that Silver Spider, however in the meantime, it counts as a book, so I can tick it off my checklist. Nectar, Jeeves, only 189 books to go.