Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thrift Store Adventures: Mysterious Rejected Book!

I found, perhaps, my favorite thrift store book yet. The thrift store gods smile upon me yet again!

On our way back from Geek.Kon in Wisconsin, my friend and I decided we needed to stop by a liquor store and buy some Wisconsin beer for our friends back home. We were running out of options as we were driving through the countryside of Wisconsin, but we stopped off at an exit that seemed to have a very small town, Mineral Point. We drove through the town knowing that since it is a small town, they would surely have a liquor store; what else is there to do in a small town but get wastey-faced?

We drove for several minutes and after seeing lots of tractor stores and feed shops we saw this sign:

That's a pretty intriguing sign. It is for "Crazy" Franks who is apparently "selling stuff for peanuts..." What does that mean? It could either mean that they are literally selling peanut items for peanut farmers, or that their stuff is so cheap the price is comparable to that of peanuts. Upon seeing what the elephant man up there is saying I am leaning toward the former.

The elephant is saying "Stop have fun." You can tell from the picture he is a Down's syndrome elephant (or "crazy" as the sign says), so what does "stop have fun" imply? Is he telling me I'll stop having fun while shopping for peanut farming supplies, or is he saying to stop and have some fun but just forgot to punctuate?

This is the front of the store:

"Thousands of items just for peanuts." The peanut farmer theory is looking stronger. But the signs also say they make signs and sell homemade crafts, groceries, toys, furniture, and tools. A pretty eclectic mix. It wasn't until I went inside that I learned how truly eclectic this store was. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the different hats this store wears:

  • Hobby Lobby wannabe
  • Hardware store
  • Fireworks store (seriously)
  • Grocery store
  • Convenience store
  • Knife shop
  • Lumber yard
  • Sign making shop
  • Thrift store
It's that last one that had my interest. Since they spread their niche so wide, it was not a very expansive thrift store, but I had to get my fix; I was in WI all weekend without a single thrift :( 

I was browsing their books which is when this little beauty caught my eye, Dreams by Anita Jackson:

This book was copyrighted in 1974 and again in 1979 by Fearon Education. I picked it up because of that awesome cover design, the fact that it was only about 20 pages so would be a quick read, and because it was $0.50. I was fully prepared for this book to be awesome based on the creepy cover art alone, but I didn't expect it to be such a mystery! But before we get into that...

The book is about a guy who has a dream about a train wreck where everyone dies which ends up coming true. The writing is extremely choppy - most sentences are only like 5 words long - and the author repeats EVERYTHING. It is a pretty annoying read actually, but somehow captivating. Here is an excerpt:

Maybe you think I'm a fool. Maybe you're saying, "You're a fool to get upset about dreams. Dreams aren't real. You must be crazy." Maybe I am crazy, but let me tell you about it. I'll tell you what happened to me. Then you'll see why I'm afraid. Something happened. Something I can never forget.
I had time to look at the people. There was a woman in a long, red dress. A long, red dress. I'd never seen one like it. The woman wore a big hat with flowers on it.
The beginning of each chapter has a picture of a puzzle that becomes more and more complete as the story progress, like this:

It's just the cover art in puzzle form. When I turned to the inside back cover of the book I saw this:

Someone stamped the word "REJECT" on the back cover. How peculiar... So I went home and looked up the ISBN and found that this book is ONLY available as a softcover pamphlet-style book. However, the book in my hands was clearly hardcover. Then I looked a little closer and it appeared that someone just cut off the cover and laminated it onto a hardcover book, then bound the book. Why the heck would someone go to all that trouble?

Then I did a Google image search to see if the book was indeed softcover. I saw two different cover art options, neither of them what I had purchased.

I also noticed that the book I picked up was of the "Specter" series, whereas these two are of the "Spirals" series, whatever that means. Either way, the cover I had was nowhere to be seen. It was something special, something unique, and I owned it! So I looked up the cover artist, Bill Shields. Turns out he died a while ago, but he was apparently a pretty respected artist. So why couldn't I find any versions of the book with the creepy cover on Google Images? 

I searched for books with "REJECT" stamped on them. I was pleased with what I found! I think I have a book with rejected cover art!!! I was so super happy when I discovered this, because it means I am probably the only person to own this version of this book - it's at least super rare :) 

I looked on Google Books and looked through a few pages and saw that the actual book doesn't feature any of the puzzle graphics at the beginning of each chapter. Just boring old chapter numbers. There are also discrepancies in publishers and publish dates (1975 instead of 1974). See?

Needless to say, I had a lot of fun trying to unravel the mystery of this mystery book. Not only is it hardcover, has differing publishing info, and has chapter pictures, but it has totally unique (and creepy) cover art by a legit artist! Woot! 

My only question is, why didn't they use the rejected cover art????


  1. Loved this! I kind of want to read this book, though. Also, you say you paid .50 for this book but the price tag says $2.00... Another mystery ;)

  2. That is a cool cover! and i hope you know you have a thrift store fairy watching over you!!

  3. The cover art to the Reject book is way better than a lonely sepia toned train puffing down the tracks.... who made that decision?? It was the 70's too, you'd think they would have made a groovier (is that even a word?) choice than that.

  4. Grace: You will def have to read it! It takes like 10 mins to read, if that. And I paid $0.50, but the book must have sold elsewhere for $2.00.

    Storm: I love my thrift store fairy :)

    Nicole: Haha yes, I agree! That first sentence you typed is awesome, btw. I would say that "groovier" is a word. I didn't even get the red squiggly line when I typed it.

  5. The old cover art is definitely much more of a win than the train art. Kudos on the great find! I think it's interesting that you were able to find such a rare copy of the author's work posthumously. It's like he is leaving a legacy behind and you are part of it.


  6. Pretty neat story. My sister used to work at a place that would review books and even games before they were released, so I have some books that don't have complete indices in them and typos galore. This book could've gone through a similar process.

  7. You got a rare, collector's item and it was only 50 cents! Nice job!

  8. O Galleghure: Hmm that's interesting, you might be right. I didn't notice any glaring typos but maybe the art alone was enough to get it rejected.

    Carrymel: Yes! I am very proud of my find, thanks :)

  9. I am thinking that the cover art was rejected because the publisher thought it would cuase more nightmares than would the story.

  10. VERY cool! Well, personally, I would reject that creepy cover art, too. But, it makes for a nice story! :D

  11. That is unique and distinctly disturbing.