When I first arrived in Bangor, and decided to open up a little shop, I decided the first thing I should do is acquaint myself with the other businesses that were long established, so I could get a feel for where people go with books when they want to raise some cash.
I learned quickly that it’s not always bookstores that people visit to sell books, it is Pawn Shops. While not exactly known for their hallowed halls of knowledge, these shops provide a valuable service that is faster than eBay and easier to deal with, albeit not as profitable for the book owner. The problem that lies within, is that once these books are part of their inventory, they face the same difficulty that traditional bookstores face on a daily basis, how do they get their wares in front of eyeballs on a larger geographical scale. In most cases, these books sit in a cabinet, or a shelf, until the right buyer walks in.
After I decided to go down this route, I printed out a large Google Maps of Bangor and drew a 25 mile radius circle and proceeded to visit every pawn shop that resided within. I did manage to pick up a few signed books as well as a few limited editions, but more often than not, it was the gas stations that I frequented that made the most profit.
Last week, upon speaking to a friend of mine that instructed me to search wider afield, I extended my search radius to 50 miles in all directions. Last Friday my first two stops produced a few nice paperbacks and a fine audio cassette of King. I had plans on visiting five locations that day, but at the third stop, that ended up being my last stop for good reasons.
Upon speaking with the owner about the chances of finding any Stephen King items, he told me that he had a few signed books and magazines over in the gun cabinet. He smiled, because if you haven’t been to a Maine Pawn Shop before, there is a lot of gun cabinet’s. I followed him over and when I glanced down on the second shelf, underneath a Glock 21 handgun, was a US First Edition of From a Buick 8. Next to it, underneath a Smith & Wesson was a US First Edition of Revival. Finally next to (not underneath thank goodness) another Smith & Wesson ladies pistol was a 40 year old magazine that I had never seen before, although I knew fairly well what it was.
I asked to see the three items and to my happiness, the hard covers were both signed First’s and the prices on them were more than reasonable. When he brought out the magazine, I gently opened the cover to the title page and as sure as the day was cold, it was signed by Steve himself in 1980. Trying my best to please Lady Gaga with my poker face, I asked him what he was looking for each and the two hard covers he had $300 on and I told him that was far too high for what they were worth. I told him I would think about it. I asked about the magazine, and he said $200.
Having watched every season of Pawn Stars from Las Vegas, I knew to never pay what the man was first asking for, however, I also knew that greedy people get nothing in this world, so rather than nickel and dime him on each item, I said I would offer $666 for the lot. He looked at me rather strange, and not knowing if I was certifiable, he shook on it. Afterwards he told me they were there for a few years, so he was happy to see them go. He never asked me why I chose that figure.
The two hard covers are nice copies that will sell fairly easy to most collectors, but it was the Maine Magazine from March/April 1977 that is the real treat. Being the first appearance of “One For The Road” – a sequel to Steve’s popular “Salem’s Lot” novel, it has become an allusive edition to find. How it ended up in a Pawn Shop underneath some guns, I will never know, but I know that its days of being unloved and unappreciated for, are long over.
It will take awhile before I canvas the rest of Maine for more books, but as long as people bring in their collectibles, I will not be far behind.