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Two Long Weekends on the Coast, Part Two: Lincoln City

Second part of our adventures on the last two coast bookscouting trips. The first part is here for those who came in late. Part two lies below the fold.

*

For all those people who told us, after our last trip to Lincoln City, that we’d missed all the good stuff… believe me, I get it now.

In fact, we discovered that the twenty-five mile stretch between Lincoln City and Newport along the Oregon coast is as close to a bookscout’s paradise as I’ve ever seen… and that includes comics, too. Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport– all of them had extraordinary antiquarian booksellers and thrift stores full of good stuff.

Also, there's the beach!

It’ll take two columns at least to get through all the amazing places we found, so this week I’ll confine it to just Lincoln City.

*

First of all, it’s worth it to stop at the Lincoln City Goodwill; it’s in a little strip mall at the north end of town, maybe a hundred yards or so beyond the Welcome sign.

Specifically, the Lighthouse Square strip mall.

We always find good stuff there. I’ve said this before, but you can get a pretty good read on a place by what kind of books show up at the Goodwill; you’re always going to have to plow through a lot of Danielle Steele and John Grisham and so on, but if you also see discards like SF Book Club hardcovers or Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine at the local thrift store, that bodes well. On the other hand, if the thrift-store pickings are all diet books and Left Behind trade paperbacks, you can write it off as a town populated largely by non-readers.

If you see a shelf full of THESE, you might as well just give up and go on to the next town.

You can tell Lincoln City is a book town because even the Goodwill is full of great stuff. A couple of years ago when we were on Whidbey Island I passed up a first edition hardcover of The Silence of the Lambs we found in a thrift shop there, and I’ve been kicking myself over it ever since. On our last trip to the Lincoln City Goodwill I found not only that one but also a first edition hardcover of its predecessor, Red Dragon, both in pristine shape.

This time I scooped 'em both up. I don't need a house to fall on me.

I also fell for a hardcover collecting a couple of gothic romances from Susan Howatch, and Devil May Care, the Bond pastiche by Sebasitan Faulks.

The Howatch was an impulse buy... the Bond was trading up to a nicer edition than the one I had at home.

The Susan Howatch was one of a number of double-novel Book Club gothics that came out in the 1970s. The genre got a boost from the 1970s occult fad (You had Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, and even Dark Shadows; all of them spawned dozens of paperback knockoffs.) I was interested in The Devil on Lammas Night, and anyway I’d been trying to explain to my Young Authors TA, Tiffany, about what a Gothic romance really was not too long ago, and I had a vague idea that maybe I’d pass this on to her. As it turned out, though, The Waiting Sands is a really fun romantic suspense story in a classic young-heroine-trapped-on-the-cliffs-with-a-killer sort of way. I enjoyed it enough that when we got home, I went and found the other two Book Club doubles Ms. Howatch did.

The total expenditure for both came to less than five dollars, and anyway I like the covers.

We ended up finding other things for Tiffany, down in Newport. Even so, I may still pass these on to her, but I want to finish reading them first.

The Goodwill also had a bunch of other stuff I’d have snatched up if I didn’t already own it– many mystery and SF hardcovers, and a lot of Marvel trade paperbacks. Since we are always approaching from the north, it’s the first place we see when we hit town and we always stop there as a sort of warmup for the real book hunting that follows. Well worth a look.

*

The friendliest place we found, without question, was Pacific Coast Books.

Pacific Coast Books, and its awesome proprietor Don.

When Julie and I walked in, the proprietor, whose name turned out to be Don, greeted us like old friends. He asked us what we were doing and I told him we were sort of bookscouting our way down the coast. This lit him up. “Well, in that case,” he said, “You can start a pile up here, and when you’re all done you can have ten percent off seeing as how you’re in the trade.”

“Oh, we’re not real bookscouts,” I said hastily. “This is just our hobby, we don’t do it for money or anything.”

This amused Don. “You’re really here, aren’t you? This is reality. You look real to me. What are you interested in?”

I told him vintage juveniles, which is always where I start if there’s no comics, and he pointed me to a row of shelves in the rear.

There was a whole wall of this stuff.

To my delight, he had several of the Whitman Authorized Editions I am so fond of, in like-new shape.

These instantly went into The Pile. The SPIN AND MARTY is actually just a new edition of the original novel, Lawrence Watkin's MARTY MARKHAM.

Three of those– The Munsters, Have Gun Will Travel and Spin and Marty– went into The Pile. He also had a bunch of juvenile history books on the same shelf, and I picked up the Lewis and Clark one because I am a Lewis and Clark nerd.

And Julie found a book on local history because she is a local history nerd, and also because her family spent a lot of time around Nehalem when she was a child.

Moving over to the mysteries, I found a couple of coffee-table/pop reference books I’d been wanting for a while: The Sherlock Holmes Scrapbook and TV Detectives. (“Good eye,” I heard Don mutter when I put the Holmes on The Pile, which made me smile.)

He had a lot of other cool stuff too– the first American hardcover of Octopussy, which I regretfully put back because it would have strictly been buying for the collectibility and I try to not give in to that impulse. I already have the old Signet edition with the additional short story “The Property of a Lady,” Fleming’s last-ever Bond story, and it’s not included in the hardcover edition.

The original hardcover of OCTOPUSSY was just two short stories, 'Octopussy' and 'The Living Daylights' -- hardly a real book at all. The paperback includes 'The Property of a Lady,' which is still short weight but at least it feels like you have an actual book.

Near the juveniles, Don had a locked room with a little card on the glass door explaining that these were the rarities and would be shown only by appointment. I explained that I was really more of a book blogger than a bookscout, and asked if I could take a picture. He instantly unlocked the room and exhorted us to help ourselves, feel free to look, handling the books was fine, don’t be shy.

Well, once you’re handling the books and looking at prices, the urge to actually spend money becomes almost overpowering. At least if you’re me.

The rare books room. I'm afraid the picture doesn't really convey the feeling of standing in a vault full of AMAZING.

I found myself drifting back again and again to the history section, particularly books about the Old West. Finally I fell for this one.

It was the British edition of Coronado’s Children, by J. Frank Dobie. It looked like a fun read; Dobie was one of the great American Western history writers from the thirties to the sixties, his specialty was Texas. And Julie is a geology nut. And it was only fifty dollars. And there was the lure of actually owning something from the rare books room, even if it was just an obscure little one like this. And… ten percent off.

It went into The Pile. I am weak.

There were all sorts of awesome Western books outside of the rare book room, too.

We ended up getting BOTH the Spirit of the Border books-- because one was the actual novel and one was the Whitman Authorized juvenile edition, and they were priced VERY reasonably... and ten percent off...and.... yes, I know I said I tried not to buy books just as collectibles but the operative word there is TRIED... and I do actually collect the Whitman books... DON'T JUDGE ME DAMMIT!

Two Zane Grey hardcovers from the 1940s went into The Pile and finally we MADE ourselves stop. But we could have easily dropped another hundred bucks there without breathing hard (and we probably will when we visit again.)

Don rang us up, with many smiles and exclamations of “ah, that’s a good one!” You could dismiss it as salesmanship, I suppose, but I assure you it wasn’t. The guy just purely loves books, and being surrounded by them, and seeing other book lovers find good ones… and his sheer joy at being in the book business is infectious. Pacific Coast instantly became our favorite bookstore in Lincoln City just on the strength of that. You should find a way to get there if you are anywhere around the Oregon Coast… Astoria, Florence, wherever. Make the drive. You won’t regret it.

*

A town is lucky if they have one good bookstore. Lincoln City has five good ones…. and that’s not counting the thrift stores and antique malls and so on. I talked about Brady Books on our first visit, and with Pacific Coast, that’s two.

But the ones we wanted to see, the ones everyone kept telling us we HAD to see if we ever went back to Lincoln City, were Robert’s Books and its companion store, Bob’s Beach Books.

We found Bob’s first.

A nice little storefront right in the middle of town.

Bob’s is a new-and-used retail outlet, that’s jammed full of interesting, mostly-contemporary books. Because of that, there really wasn’t anything there that caught my eye as a reader– we usually are looking for out-of-print stuff– but the store itself is just a fun place to walk around in.

They also have a terrific comics section.

The shelf behind this one, facing out the other way, is ALSO full of comics trade collections. It's a little island o'funnybooks right in the middle of the store. Lots of good stuff, but unfortunately nothing I wanted that I didn't already have at home.

Again, I already owned all the ones I saw there that I’d have been interested in, but it pleased me just to see a comics section so large and prominent.

It only took a few minutes to figure out that the emphasis at Bob’s was on new stuff and thus there was not much for us, but we hung around for a little while to admire the original art framed on the wall.

There is so much STUFF in Bob's that sometimes the art gets covered up, which is a shame. But a store that loves Mike Danger as much as I do has an easy in with me. This was actually signed by Max Allan Collins!

I should add Bob’s does a lot of author events, including one on August 25th that it’s really going to hurt us to miss– The 2012 Northwest Author Fair. In particular because Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, and J. Steven York will be there; all three wrote licensed books I liked a lot for series like Star Trek and Smallville and, especially, the Byron Preiss 1990s Marvel novels that I adored. I’ve said for years that J. Steven York’s two Generation X novels are far and away the best work anyone ever did with those characters.

Well, yes, they've done lots of other cool original stuff too, but the licensed Marvel books are dear to my heart. Byron Preiss had a real gift for that kind of thing.

But I’m getting sidetracked. The point is, Bob’s is a great bookstore… but we were to discover that it’s nothing compared to the mothership. Bob’s Beach Books is actually an offshoot of Robert’s Books. Of the five in the city Robert’s is the original, the first of them all– it’s been a Lincoln City institution for the last twenty-five years or so.

We actually had a hard time finding it because from the street all you can really see is the mermaid. Fortunately the Bob's clerk gave us good directions.

When a young desk clerk saw me taking pictures of the art at Bob’s, she assured us that the GOOD stuff was all down the street at Robert’s.

She was so right.

It doesn’t look like much from the street, but once you’re inside, Robert’s Books is a wonderland.

Framed cover art is everywhere. The place could double as a pop art museum.

Even the restroom wall was full of extraordinary framed illustrations.

Which is not to slight the books themselves. By the time we got there it was close to closing time, so we couldn’t spend as much time browsing as we might have liked… but honestly, once I got to the wall of Whitmans I was more than satisfied.

Never– nowhere, not even at Powell’s Books in Portland or the Antiquarian Book Fair here in Seattle–have I seen so many of my beloved Whitmans in one place. For a moment I could only just stand there and stare, openmouthed.

A whole wall of them. The greedy little acquisitve collector that lives in my head was hissing, All of them! All of them! Precioussss!

And they were very reasonably priced– most Whitman collectors are still mostly about the Big Little Books or the Trixie Belden series, although the word is getting out on these Authorized Editions as well. (Julie says about this, “Stop WRITING about them, you idiot, you are sabotaging yourself!”) Most of these were priced under ten dollars and there were quite a few for just four, like Steve Frazee’s Disney Zorro– and that was a really nice one from 1958, too. I was seriously tempted to just go nuts and start scooping up armloads, because really, all in one place like that? When was that ever going to happen again?

But sanity prevailed. It helped that they were about to close. In the end, my hissing little inner Gollum had to be contented with six.


In more or less chronological order. The Judy Garland was a real find because you have Oz people after that one, and this was in the jacket, even. All of them were in like-new shape-- just a little yellowing on the pages-- except for Dragnet, which was a little beat up but perfectly acceptable.

Bob Portwood, “Robert” himself, rang us up. “Glad you found something you like,” he said.

“I never in my life have seen so many of these Whitmans in one place,” I blurted. “And in this kind of shape! Holy God!”

Mr. Portwood looked gently amused at my utter nerding out. “It’s fun, isn’t it?” he said. “I think I like the looking as much as the finding. I can always tell when somebody comes up here with that I-found-it look. That’s what makes it fun.”

Couldn’t argue with that.

*

Well, this is getting way too long, so I think I’ll stop here. Believe it or not, of the antiquarian wonders we found along that twenty-five mile stretch of coast, today’s column is about half of them; there are many more comics and rarities and yes, Whitmans, yet to come.

We’ll pick it up next week with Lincoln City’s fifth amazing bookstore down in Streetcar Village, and then on to Depoe Bay and Newport. See you then.

14 Comments

I think a beat-up copy of that Combat! is in a box in my parent’s basement; I would have totally swapped you it for that copy of Domu in the Bob’s Beach Books photo! Just out of curiosity, what were the prices on the cover art? Having the book framed beside is such a great idea.

Just out of curiosity, what were the prices on the cover art? Having the book framed beside is such a great idea.

Not for sale, just display. No prices. But yeah, we loved the way the published version is right next to each original, as well.

I picked up a softcover of Devil May Care a couple of months ago. i’m not a fan of the continuation novels, but I saw that one was set in the 60′s and thought the $10 was worth. Great book, I really enjoyed it.

What’s the Sherlock Holmes scrapbook like? I have Haining’s “Further adventures”, with his pick of the non-canon stories, which I enjoyed. And I must recommend the recent continuation book for Holmes, “The House of Silk”. I think Anthony Horowitz does a fine job.

And I should also mention that Octopussy was updated again a few years ago. Recent copies now include “James Bond in New York”, from Thrilling Cities.

The only Whitmans I ever held onto were MISSION TO HORATIUS, the Trek TOS book by noted sf author Mack Reynolds (1968), VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (1965) by not-so-noted Raymond F. Jones.

Also, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E book THE AFFAIR OF THE GENTLE SABOTEUR. It intrigued me that the Whitman was the only media tie-in to vary the official title format. And I learned something new looking that up:

“Walter Gibson wrote an oversized U.N.C.L.E. book entitled The Coin of El Diablo Affair, published by Wonder Books.
The Whitman Company brought out three hardcover books. The first two were both penned by Brandon Keith: The Affair of the Gentle Saboteur and The Affair of the Gunrunner’s Gold. The last one was a “Big-Little” book”

Wow, an U.N.C.L.E. from The Shadow author? And a second “Affair of” book (I don’t really care about Big Little Books). I’ll keep my eye out for them.

AH! Mike, I TOTALLY SAW that Gibson UNCLE one today! There’s a local dollar store that has a flea market thing on weekends, and they had that UNCLE book. It’s sort of coloring book size.

If I go back there soon and it’s still there, I’m going to pick it up. I’m not sure if it was on the dollar table the guy had, or if it was the 6 bucks written inside.

So I recognized that Dragnet book. My girlfriend picked it up at a convention recently. I don’t think she’s read it and I really don’t know why she got it, really. She reads way more than me, though, so I suppose there was some interest she had. I do love these posts, though. I’m just shocked to randomly have one of the books you like talking about.

So I recognized that Dragnet book. My girlfriend picked it up at a convention recently. I don’t think she’s read it and I really don’t know why she got it, really. She reads way more than me, though, so I suppose there was some interest she had.

I don’t know either. But I like them because I generally find them to be enjoyable reads, and they often feature work by folks that went on to do other cool things in prose or comics. Western novelist Steve Frazee wrote Whitman’s authorized Zorro, Lassie, and High Chaparral novels; Alex Toth illustrated Maverick; and someone already mentioned Mack Reynolds and Raymond Jones. In the case of Dragnet, it was written by Richard Deming, a crime writer of some repute who sold a lot of tough mysteries to Alfred Hitchcock and Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, many of which have once again been made available as e-books. Deming did the Dragnet paperback novels as well, and also the Mod Squad books which were usually better than anything on the show.

I do love these posts, though. I’m just shocked to randomly have one of the books you like talking about.

I’m always surprised when anyone’s heard of the Whitman Authorized series at all; ninety-nine times out of a hundred, asking when we’re out on the road, people think I’m talking about the Big Little Books.

Man, it’s bad enough you post all those photos from bookstores that make me literally want to jump into them, but that first picture of the beach at Lincoln City… I’m still not sure what I miss more about living in the States: the cool out-of-the-way used bookstores, or the Oregon coast.

I asked her about the Dragnet book earlier today and she simply said, ” I like crime novels”. So…fair enough. I’ll pass on your information about the author, though. Maybe that’ll be something she’ll like.

don’t blame you for almost going nuts in that one store with those whitman books for how often will unless you go back to that store get a chance to see something like that. plus interesting to find the very last bond adveture by ian himself. and in a nice condtion

Thanks, Greg, for the kind words about my Generation-X novels. “Crossroads” was actually my first published novel, and I’m still pretty happy with those books, though I’d assumed they were long-forgotten.

Next time you’re through Lincoln City, give me some advance warning, and I’ll try to set up a tour of a private collection that will blow your little collector mind.

Those cheap Whitman hardcovers were an important part of my young life. A Whitman Lassie book may have been the first novel I ever read, and I quickly graduated to the Whitman edition of Wells’ “War of the Worlds” (still love those illustrations). I also remember reading the very pulpy and fun Space Eagle novels (there were only two, weren’t there), and I was hugely influenced by the science fiction collection “Tales of Time and Space” which introduced me to a whole host of great sf authors like Keith Laumer (“The Last Command” is still one of my favorite short-stories ever), Arthur C. Clarke, Fred Poul, Fredric Brown, Robert Silverberg, and Jack Finney. (I also did have a couple of the later Big Little books, like “Space Ghost” and “Major Matt Mason.”)

But being a country kid with no access to libraries and limited access to books (especially the science fiction I loved), actually being able to OWN those books was very important to me.

“Getting too long?” Not nearly long enough! :D I can’t get enough of these columns!
I have terrible luck finding any of the Whitmans around here. It’s a farily small town, so the Goodwill-type places, and even most of the antique stores, have book sections that are more along the lines of the “diet books and Left Behind” variety. There are a couple fo good ones, though. One of them even has a decent assortment of the Whitmans, but unfortunately, they’re all pretty pricey, and most are in pretty lousy condition, to boot. I have a more passing interest in them, focusing mainly on the ones that are related to shows I love/used to love; for example, I would have snatched up that Munsters one in a blur! :) I have yet to run across any at that store that I felt I had to have, at least at their price.

I came across a first edition of Octopussy about 15 years ago, and fortunately, I already had several paperback editions of it, so the lack of “Property” wasn’t a problem for me. It remains the only Fleming first edition I own that isn’t missing its dust jacket.

For all the criticism I’ve seen lobbed at it, I enjoyed “Devil May Care” nearly as much as a couple of the lesser Flemings. I felt it was certainly much better than Deaver’s attempt.

The original art with the books alongside are great! A couple of stores here have rare old books on display in cases on their walls, but no original cover art.

About two weeks behind on reading your column… love this travelogue of your book scouting. Much of the joy is in the hunt and browsing. I’ve observed the same thing about Goodwill myself. And congrats on the Holmes Scrapbook. I’ve got one myself but they aren’t easy to come by.
And I love your little “book Gollum” moment. :)

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