Vintage Reads: Where to start
Posted January 2, 2016on:
Is this your first Vintage Month? welcome!
You might have a battered copy of The Martian Chronicles, or something from the library or the used bookstore. This post is all about where to find Vintage goodness in both print and electronic forms, how to take care of your crumbly old paperbacks, and where to find vintage reviews and discussions online year round.
Where to find Vintage Reads
My favorite resource is used bookstores. They are a treasure hunt of wonderfulness, and you never know what you’ll find. This can be good and bad. Not sure where the good bookstores in your area are? Use the twittersphere to your advantage – just ask for used bookstore recommendations in your geographical area.
If you don’t want to make a financial investment, the library is always your friend. Many science fiction classics get a reprint every 15 years or so, so you’re sure to find something that was originally printed pre-1979 at the library. Even better? Many libraries have the “Year’s Best” type anthologies going back decades, if you want to dip your toes into the short fiction of a particular year. Skim the scifi shelves for binding that looks old, and cheesy old fonts on the spines.
It’s hit and miss finding older titles available electronically. If the title is really old (Hi Jules Verne!), the copyright has run out and it’s probably available through Project Gutenberg. A few years ago I found a free (legal!) audiobook of A Princess of Mars through LibriVox, which offers audiobooks of public domain books. Open Road Media is making e-books of a lot of older books, and I’m pretty impressed with their SFF catalog in general.
If you opt to purchase used paperbacks, be aware, older books should be cared for a little differently. “Pulp” fiction was called that because of the cheap paper used and oftentimes even cheaper methods of binding. What I’m getting at here is these books are probably more fragile than a book purchased today. Dried out glue in the binding can be repaired, clear packing tape is a good bandaid for tears in covers, and the ink will probably come off on your fingers. Beware of mildew and moldy smells, although there are ways around that too. If the book doesn’t look like it will survive being read, your best bet is probably to purchase something else. (Although I am totally guilty of buying books that won’t survive another reading, the poor things died in my hands. I was the last human they saw.)
I celebrate Vintage Month one month out of the year, and randomly read older stuff all year round, there are a few blogs and websites I’ve found that generally specialize in older science fiction all year long. If you’re looking for some reviews, some context, or just some fun cover art galleries, check these folks out:
Looks like you’re ready to be on Red Alert for the Interstellar Patrol!