Because it’s the sort of weird thing I do, from time to time.
I’m a frequent shopper/user of the AbeBooks.com portal, forever using it to hunt for books I’m wanting to my library. It’s a great resource for finding affordable copies of older and out of print books, like old tie-in novels or entries in the various pulp fiction/men’s adventure series for which I confess to having a nerdy fondness.
As a consequence of my book fetish, I’m on their mailing list and therefore get their various newsletters and other odd articles. The latest of these newsletters brought with it a link to an interesting article:
Prompted by an apparent surge in interest and in Michael Crichton’s 1974 novel Westworld thanks to last year’s HBO series based on the premise and the 1973 film, AbeBooks compiled a list of the 30 out-of-print books that apparently were the biggest targets of would-be book buyers. Crichton’s Westworld topped the resulting list, which is an eclectic mix of non-fiction and fiction across several genres and topics.
I’m not going to put the whole list here (go read the article. It’s good!), but a few of the hunted titles amused or intrigued me for different reasons. For example:
#2: Sex by Madonna, 1992 – I remember the uproar that accompanied this book’s publication. It caused a lot of pearl clutching in the little Georgia city were I was living at the time, and the Waldenbooks at the mall (THE mall. The only mall.) kept their copies behind the counter. This was a town where you couldn’t even buy a Playboy at the bookstore, at least back then. I’ve thumbed through a copy, but I never felt any real urge to add it to my library. Even when it comes to smut, I guess I’m still pretty demanding.
#5: Encyclopedia of Pierced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman, 1993. I’ve got nuthin.
#8: Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Cameron Crowe, 1981. This book is, of course, the basis for 1982 film. We’ve all seen the movie (“Way to go, Hamilton!”), and I’ve read the excerpts that are included in a 1981 issue of Playboy, but the book itself is one that’s eluded me for decades. It seems like an obvious candidate for republication, but so far no luck, and copies can go for a couple of hundred bucks on the secondary market. C’mon, Cameron! Help us out, here.
#19: Portrait of A Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell, 2002. I had a copy of this book, and somewhere along the line it got itself purged from my library. Shit!
#24: Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 by James Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger, 1994. The firsthand account of the fateful lunar flight, as told by the mission commander himself. I was surprised to find this one listed as OOP, but I guess that’s the way it goes, sometimes. The book was re-issued in 1995 with the title Apollo 13 as a tie-in to the Ron Howard film. Of course I have a copy, but it’s the original edition.
#25: The Making of Star Trek by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, 1968. Pretty much what the title indicates. This tome was written while the original series was in production, and offers a detailed behind the scenes look at how it all came together. One of my very favorite Star Trek books, it was reprinted about a million times over the years, and I’ve had a copy since childhood. Now I have (at least) for different versions, but it’s only in the last couple of years that I finally acquired a mint first edition.
Though none of my out-of-print titles made the Top 30 (go figure), the rest of the list is as interestingly varied as the ones I cherry-picked here. You’ll find things like The Essential Woodworker, Stephen King’s novel Rage, a couple of sports biographies, and the novelization of the 1978 film Halloween. There are also links to lists from previous years. I checked the 2015 list, for example, and noted that several of the titles from the 2016 edition appear to be perennial favorites. I also saw that Martin Caidin’s Cyborg (basis for TV’s The Six Million Dollar Man) held the #25 spot in 2015. Heh.
Anyway, definitely go and check out the entire article.
Oh, and if you have a copy of Fast Times, call me.