Sunday, August 26, 2007

Return with Us Now . . .

. . . you know where. This ad from the back of a 1955 SF magazine is very similar to one I responded to. In fact, two of the books pictured were two those I picked for my first order: The Astounding Science Fiction Anthology and The Omnibus of Science Fiction. As far as I'm concerned, you'd be hard pressed to find two better anthologies to grab a kid's attention and make him an addict. At least in 1955. When I went away to college, my mother made me dispose of most of my books (she was a fine woman, but she didn't get it about books). Somehow, though, I hung onto those two. Still have 'em.

10 comments:

  1. Boy were those SF Book Club adverts seductive. Those thirty word outlines accompanying each book, most of them ending in !!!!!!!!!! What thirteen year old could resist? I couldn't that's for sure.

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  2. Todd Mason10:29 AM

    I've managed not to see this ad before...I wonder how happy the assembled were with their photographs (my favorite SFBC is likely to remain the remarkably over-the-top ad focusing on Asimov's THE END OF ETERNITY, headlined "You Travelled Through Time to Taste FORBIDDEN LOVE...But Now You Must Kill Her!" We have at least one mutual acquaintance whose blood pressure rises ten points whenever he contemplates that ad.

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  3. I couldn't resist, either, Ed.

    Todd, I love that ad. I'm sure I have it around here on some mag or other.

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  4. Todd Mason12:41 PM

    I believe my first four selections from SFBC when I joined in 1978 (deflation of come-ons had reduced the entry fee to four selections for 10c...and the least expensive regular BC editions at that time were a whopping $1.98, albeit you had to put up with the ugly SFBC covers on the likes of ROGUE MOON and THE DEMOLISHED MAN): THE HUGO WINNERS, VOL. 1 & 2 in an omnibus, as annotated by Isaac Asimov (IA and Doubleday cleverly left Fritz Leiber's "Ill Met in Lankhmar" out of the book, but luckily I'd encountered them elsewhere by then...not sure how much in royalties that might've cost Leiber, but perhaps not too much); John Varley's collection THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION; and I'm blanking on the other two. Those two clearly made the larger impression.

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  5. I picked up the Asimov anthologies in pb around that time; same for the Varley collection. I'd dropped out of the club long before.

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  6. Todd Mason4:51 PM

    One of the small advantages (as opposed to the big and small advantages and disadvantages) of moving to Hawaii in 1979 is that the SFBC, like most clubs of its ilk, wouldn't automatically send the primary selections any longer if one failed to explicitly opt out, since the bulk mail charges were greater and delivery was slower. Certainly made membership slightly less annoying, but I soon dropped it anyway. After a year's membership in the BOMC offshoot the Quality Paperback Club, I pretty much gave up on those.

    Had there been any great advantage to membership in SFBC in the '50s? Were the books otherwise hard to find around your nabe?

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  7. Where I was, the SFBC was about the only way to get the books. The library had Heinlein and a few others, and the bookstore had paperbacks, but the big anthologies and other hardcovers were SFBC only as far as I was concerned.

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  8. Hah, I just read a Cool & Lam novel by Earl Stanley Gardener, printed in the 60s, and not only was there an ad in the middle, it folded out to TWO GLORIOUS PAGES!! Or whatever. Apparently there was a Gardener book club.

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  9. Todd Mason11:27 PM

    I believe I remember seeing a similar card-stock ad for a Gardner club, and the Detective Book Club, the one that produced all those triple volumes with the threee title in wrap-around bands on the front cover and spine, also for years would make an initial offer of a cheap stack of Gardner's to encourage new members to join.

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  10. Todd Mason10:48 AM

    Or even three titles.

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