I rarely buy the same book twice because a better cover comes along but that’s not to say I never do this. Indeed, I have a library shelf groaning with copies of H.P. Lovecraft volumes bearing many of the same titles but wrapped in different covers. I call these my ‘vanity purchases’, books which will never be read as I already own a perfectly good copy exactly for that very purpose. But then this happened…
One day, I came across a copy of John Sladek’s rather fine novel The Müller-Fokker Effect on eBay for a rather paltry sum and decided to hit the ‘Buy It Now’ button immediately. Here is that very volume published by Pocket Books in 1973 with rather fetching cover art by Gene Szafran;
Before the book had even arrived through my letterbox, another copy appeared on eBay bearing a cover extremely similar to a copy of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream OF Electric Sheep which I had purchased earlier that day. I knew I had to have it and again hit the familiar blue button below the listing. A few days later I had both copies sitting on my table for cataloguing, this particular version was issued by Panther in 1972 and has stunning cover art by McInnery;
During the brief period of browsing which had uncovered both these volumes, I had noticed a few copies of a third version of this very tome – a first edition hardback no less with a very bizarre psychedelic cover. The starting prices were always over the £45 mark and so I passed them over with a sigh. Then, one evening I stumbled across a copy with a starting price of just £10. I duly clicked the ‘Watch’ button and proceeded to keep an eye on it over the next few days. There were no bids with only one minute to go before the auction ended and so I tentatively placed an offer just over the £10 starter. To my surprise, I won the auction without a single counter bid and so now had three copies of the same book. Published by Hutchinson in 1970 and bearing the most amazing cover drawing by Bill Botten, here’s the front of the dust jacket:
Even the rear of the book is great showing Sladek looking like some kind of anarcho-hippie freedom fighter or a member of Hawkwind circa 1976;
It’s hard to tell which is the ‘vanity purchase’ here as all the covers are so fantastic (the book is brilliant too by the way) but I think my library would be missing something if I didn’t have all three sitting on its shelves.