After sitting at home due to the outside generally being rainy and icky Saturday, we ventured forth yesterday out into the extremely muggy world left behind. I managed to wrap up the podcast and get a blog post made all well before my wife made it home from church. By the time she got home I was essentially ready to go do whatever she might need to do. When she told me that she wanted to go to Gardener’s I admittedly had some mixed emotions. For the uninitiated Gardner’s Used Books is this massive place here in Tulsa It takes up the entirety of an extremely deep strip mall and almost every inch of it is covered in bookcases and or collectibles. The problem being that they are also notorious for reorganizing trying to fit new stuff in the store, which means that often times you have to spend thirty minutes roaming the store trying to find it again. The biggest problem I have had recently with Gardner’s is that their stock seems to be aging horribly. When I go to a book store I almost always make a beeline to the pen and paper gaming section, and then from there I wander out into other things. This section at Gardner’s had been shrinking and it felt like slowly, bit by bit we were just picking through the bones of a carcass that had been there since the early 90s. The thing you have to understand about this store is that it is essentially designed to be run at a loss. The Gardener’s “real” business is a Tax Service, and a really damned good one. It has been rumored for years that the family owns several buildings just like this one full of books, that were bought in bulk to dilute the profits to whatever level they needed for tax benefits. Over the last year or so they have been opening up one of these buildings located behind the main store on the weekends, and letting folks sift through the new arrivals. The above image is a single quadrant of this second building… and what you are looking at is completely unsorted books.
So you might see a Chilton manual to a 85 Chevy Pickup, next to a Danielle Steel, sitting beside an oddity like the book in the photo above. “The Ewoks Join the Fight” was part of a series of books that included a record that went with them. The idea was for you to read along with the narration, but the narration itself was this amazing radio play style thing. I loved these as a kid and had them for several different franchises… and I think I even remember there being a set for the Gremlins movie. Now the part I am not remembering is if they came from a restaurant as a limited time giveaway, or if this was something that I ended up getting from the scholastic books catalog. Regardless they were cool and it was a trip down memory lane to see one half buried in a pile of unrelated books. We came with a purpose in mind of trying to find pre-calc books for my wife, who now has that as a prep this year. So as I started going through the piles I started pulling books out because you could walk past the same table three times and see slightly different things each time. Unfortunately nothing I pulled really interested her, but she did find a seemingly nice book on forensics. The challenge of this Gardner’s Annex is the fact that there did not appear to be any air conditioning. We went extremely early in the morning, and it was already getting a little muggy in there. I would hate to go there in the full on Oklahoma summer heat, considering it is basically a giant metal building. The coolest thing in the annex however was this really neat full sized Han Solo in Carbonite sculpture that was hanging on one of the walls. I am not sure exactly where it came from, or if it was an official prop for maybe the re-releases of the original movies back during the mid 90s. Whatever the case I wanted to take it home with me, but like so many of the bigger things they have… like the life sized Hulk statue… it didn’t have a price tag on it.
When we made it over to the main building, I have to say I got more than a little excited. One of the things that I “collect” for lack of a better word to describe it… are Palladium games books. I have talked about this a bit in the past, and it seems like folks tend to either gravitate towards GURPS or Palladium when it comes to a “universal” system for gaming. Later Wizards tried to do this with the d20 system, but the idea is that you have one set of rules that cover lots and lots of different genres. As someone who used to love genre bending in gaming… it would allow you to give players the leeway to play quite literally anything they wanted to in almost any setting. The downside is there are only so many character backstories that can make this work apart from a “band of adventurers” or “mercenaries”. For a period of time Palladium books released a quarterly “magazine” for lack of a better term, filled with various bits of information related to all of the different systems called Rifter. They originally sold for between $10 and $15 in game stores, but over the years I have picked them up whenever I happened to find them cheaply. Sometimes they have really good stuff in them, other times not so much. It seems as though someone had just unloaded a stack of them on Gardner’s sixteen in total. The negative being that they were mostly priced around $6 a piece, which is fine if I only found them one at a time… but more than I would want to pay for a large bulk lot of them. After my wife didn’t find much of anything she wanted from the main store, I decided to see if they could make me a deal on the entire bundle. I had it in my head that I would be willing to pay around $50 for them all… and when the guy said he would sell them to me for $45 I had to stifle the excitement. There are some huge gaping holes in the numbering… and apparently they released physical copies of this up through the 40s so it is far from a complete set. However I have a lot more of them than I did before hand so life is pretty good. I’ve not really done much more than thumb through them, but if nothing else they always have really cool artwork.