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Lexile Scores and Reading Levels

If you are looking at children’s books for school you might notice a Lexile Number at the back. “A Lexile measure is a valuable tool for teachers, parents, and students. … The higher the Lexile measure, the higher the student’s reading level. The reader’s Lexile Framework works in intervals of five with 5L being the lowest. The highest possible measure is 2000L.”

But what exactly does that mean? What is a good score for a grade level?

The thing is, Lexiles measure a book’s complexity by a painfully literal algorithm of sentence length, word choice, and syntax.

To be fair, it’s only meant to be a rough guideline rather than some iron-clad dictum or curriculum. And any teacher knows that a work can have a low Lexile difficulty while being thematically unsuitable for younger readers. But still. How can Hemingway be lower than Mr. Poppers Penguins?

What are your thoughts on this? Should the complexity of the subject matter mean more than the vocabulary?

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Weather and your books

Now that the weather is becoming more extreme the question that comes to mind, after how am I to survive  is how will my collections be safe?

The more droll among us would say that not living in a place where there is extreme weather would be good, but let’s face it. Extreme weather can and will happen anywhere.

There are two things that can be done and must be completed before the evacuation orders are sent out.

1: Keep a list of your items, with photos on a drive for insurance purposes 

 You will never get the true value of the items back from your insurance, but it will help. Also it is a good way of proving what you had, what you need to get again and what condition it was in so that it can be fixed. Update this list when ever you buy something new or every month so that it is up to date. Keeping a record of where you got the items will help as well. Please remember to keep the drive in a weather safe (fire safe) that can be taken with you.  Do not keep in a bank vault.  Why? Well if a flood and storm destroys your home, how secure is the local bank’s vault?They may be burglar proof, but water? The link below tells the story of how one bank had to deal with the contents of the vault after Katrina. 

15. Moldy money vault

2: Get containers. 

Okay this sounds simple. Put your collections in to containers.  But here at Unique Editions Reads we have over 4,000 titles.  Packing these items will take hours. And sometimes you don’t have hours. Sometimes you don’t have enough container or even the correct ones.

So what can you do?

Height. First off if you have your collection in a storage unit get some pallets. I prefer wood, (eco friendly, recyclable) but plastic ones don’t rot. Line the bottom of your storage unit with them Two to three levels high if you can. Most flooding is between 6 inches and  2 feet. Keeping things high enough will prevent them from being soaked.

If you have your collection in your home, put them on a higher secure surface, like in taped cabinets or on a strong steady table.

Look for square containers of equal proportions that have a seal to the, Think about how your food containers are made. Some boxes are sold as weather tight, like the Iris brand. Pick a size that you can lift when full, and get enough for your complete collection for ease of stacking. Also when stacking remember books are heavy. If you are stacking the containers be mindful of the weight. Too heavy and the lids will be crushed. It is good to have a few pieces of wood or drywall to put between layers to distribute the weight.

If possible put each book into a ziploc bag and remove the air. If not get a sheet of plastic and wrap them like a gift and put them in.

Remember to number the boxes and list the items inside. Put this on the interior and exterior of the box and also a copy on the drive.

Damp/Mold Proofing

With paper, this is the main issue. Unless you turn all of your books into “bath books” or typed on waterproof plastic. Weather conditions will cause decay.

Silica Gel can be bought in bulk from art supply shops or you can just save all the little packs that come in various food packages. These will help with the humidity and mold issues while things are being stored.  Mylar envelopes can hold smaller books and prints.


What can be done after the storms and your collection is wet? Well the professionals at River Campus Libraries have some good ideas. Some are very expensive, but for the layperson the following will help. .

Air-drying: Fewer than 500 non-coated paper books with non‑water soluble components.

  • Cover drying surface with plastic sheeting & absorbent paper (e.g. unprinted newsprint), as needed.
  • Open book to a shallow angle & interleave approximately every 20 pages with paper towels. Begin by laying the book flat & interleaving at the front of the book, allowing the work surface to support the main weight. When interleaving has reached the approximate center of the textblock, turn the book over and start interleaving from the back.
  • The book may be left flat until paper towels have absorbed some of the water, about one hour.
  • Stand book on end (head or tail), slightly fanned.
  • Change paper beneath the books and interleaving periodically until the book is only “damp”, and then proceed to #3.
  • Keep air circulating by using fans. Do not aim fans directly at the wet materials.


  • Cover drying surface with plastic sheeting & absorbent paper (e.g. unprinted newsprint).
  • Stand damp books on head or tail, slightly fanned. If the cover is damper than the text, place absorbent paper between the boards and book, change them as needed.
  • Use fans to circulate air to dry the books completely.

You can read their article on this subject here.

As for the smell Baking soda is the best. Put some on flat plates all around the storage unit or room and they will absorb the moisture. Also some sprinkled on the books will get rid of the musty smell. Best of all, it brushes right off and the baking soda can be put in your compost or on your garden.

There are no fool proof ways to do this. And better materials are out there and will be produced. The best thing is to do what you can so that your collection and you survive.

Best of luck in the storm seasons.



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Reading Lists: Are they important?

Oprah’s, The New York Times Bestsellers, Calcott, Calvert’s, Newberry, and every school in the US have them, along with every library system. You can find them for picture books, religious groups and nearly every sub group out there. But are they really necessary? Why do we have reading lists? They are intended to showcase certain ideals or stories, but most people, I have discovered, tend to use them as a way to avoid certain books.

What are your ideas?


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The Importance of Magazines

As someone who is more technologically old fashioned I feel like I need to step up and defend older art forms.

While electronic forms of reading are more eco-friendly there is something to be said about keeping physical magazines. There have been many discussions and studies about the physical handling of magazines (and other printed media) helping one understand the importance of the reading material, and many others about the waste that producing them creates.

But this is not about any of that.

Magazines are transient parts of culture. Cheaply (for the most part) made and easily discarded. The information on them is direct and compelling, offering people a glimpse of what they have never experienced before. Magazines offer children the chance to read materials and discover other things they might find intriguing. They create rabbit holes of interest and enjoyment.

Zines (home made  magazines) have given fans a chance to see their work in print and to share ideas & tales to the outside world. They have allowed the strange, out of the box thinkers a chance to find like minded fellows and realize that they are not alone. Sometimes this will encourage them to be more of themselves and bloom, othertimes it will just keep them from wilting.

Zines can become magazines, as some did back in the early days of the 20th century when science fiction was still in its early stages. Asimov and others have printed them on cheaply made paper, kept hidden behind the bookstore’s counter or on racks in the back.

But like everything, magazines caught the general media’s eye and thus had it’s own heyday. For a span of my lifetime they were everywhere and on every obscure subject. Five different ones on the history of stain glass printed monthly, 20 different ones on sewing printed monthly.  News, gossip, sports and alternative ones printed weekly. All sent to every bookstore in packs of 30. When the new issue came in, the covers of the unsold old ones were ripped off and returned to the publisher for credit. The books themselves were trashed. (later recycled) Never to be seen again.

All hat information lost to time.

If you were lucky the library might have the copy you missed, but they wouldn’t keep them past a year. If you could afford it, you could order back issues from the printer, but even then sometimes you were out of luck.

While out dated, older magazines can offer insights to how people thought in that era. The illustrations and photos can show us things that have been lost to time. And sometimes we can discover stories that have been forgotten, or that have inspired others into greatness.

SO next time when you are out at a bookstore, an old bookshop or a yard sale don’t pass the dusty pile of old magazines by. Give them, and yourself, a chance to shine.

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Found items: Fly-aways or ephemera?

Today I discovered another thing left behind in a book. A business card from the 1960’s or earlier. I know because the phone number had letters in it, which was not used after area codes started and party lines were dropped.

This card has been placed in a box with other’s of its ilk. Over the years I have found many items that people have used instead of bookmarks: love letters, grocery lists,earrings, feathers,broken chain bracelets, coupons, cancelled checks, postage stamps, clean candy wrappers and business cards.

Lately it has been more business cards, as they have become more prevalent in our society in the last decade or so. Some of these items have been tossed, others have been “sold” on Listia and other sites for cryptocurrency, but most I have saved as a way to glimpse a bit of the past.

One thing I have rarely found left in books are book marks. Considering I see hundreds of types in every store that sells anything close to a book or journal, one might think that there would be more left behind in the pages of a returned library book. Sadly, for me, this is not the case.

Since childhood people always have given me bookmarks, and yet sadly I have never really used them. Where are you to put it when you are reading on the train or bus? And some are bulky and damage the spine. So while beautiful or thoughtful they have proven, to me at least, to be more art than practical. But is this the same for all readers?

So here is the thing….

What do you call the items that are used instead? Are they still book marks? When they are left behind do they change titles?  Are they mementos? Fly-aways? Ephemera?

No one really knows. Biblio groups all use their own names and classifications. A few years back the I-Love-Libraries  group wrote a post on it and quoted an article about it as well. (see below). Perhaps, in generations to come, people will treat them as historical treasures. Or perhaps just throw them away.

Either way I count it as a surprise to find them and collect them just the same.

Posted by I Love Libraries on Tuesday, June 11, 2013

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Sad tidings

The last few months have brought some changes.

The White Elephant in Crawfordville Florida has closed down. All of our inventory have been removed and we are currently looking for another vendor spot.

We have moved our storage to another spot in Tallahassee and a good portion of our inventory was damaged by weather.

But we are still putting more books onto



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Sherlock Holmes

When  A Study in Scarlet was first printed in 1887 no one would have believed that the main characters would be so popular. In fact it is commonly believed that fandom as we know it today was started due to Doyle’s strange detective. The insanity of  the character’s popularity was seen after Doyle killed the great detective off in 1893’s The Adventure of the Final Problem. When it was published fans attacked him in the street, sent hate mail and made his life unbearable.In an effort to get them to let him and his family be The Return of Sherlock Holmes was published in 1903.

It has been over a hundred years since that first short story was published, and the Victorian detective is still popular. There have been many radio, movie & TV adaptations of the novels, comic book appearances,  and plays. There have been updates to the series  setting him in the 1980s and the 2000s.  There was a futuristic version where he is brought back to life to fight crime with Watson’s great grandchild and even one where he fights Dracula. But in all of them the core image remains: a brilliant, observant man with an overactive ego and an inability to understand & accept the limits of others. A sociopath? Autistic prodigy? Who knows.  He is shown to be the best and the worst of all of us.

And yet in the last few decades the stories have extended from the core material. There are various live stories where we see Irene Adler marring the Great Detective and a 14 book series where an older Holmes meets and marries a young woman who is his equal in intelligence & skills. There is a young adult series where we learn the origins of the Baker Street Irregulars, another one where we learn of the younger Holmes sister who is determined to be the first Female detective and a series of adventures of Holmes & Mycroft as young boys. (Sort of like the Hardy Boys, which was based off of Holmes.) .  Even Mrs. Hudson has her own novel. These days fan fiction and ship/slash fiction is written online and there are many Sherlock/Watson pairs.

It is amazing how this disagreeable character still fascinates us and inspires us.

That being said, we here at Unique Reads have just received a collection of Sherlock Holmes novels and are steadily placing them online at our selling page. If you are looking for a good read, and an interesting take on the Great Detective, please come and check it out.

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Advanced Reader Copy or Uncorrected Proof?

When one is starting to buy books for a collection certain terms start to show up in descriptions. Sometimes the terms are not clear. Description conditions are varied within each term and sometimes they all seem quite arbitrary.  Over the next few blog posts we will be explaining these terms so that the book buying experience will be less of a mystery to the average buyer.

Two terms can cause some concern for the beginner collector. Advanced Reader Copy and Uncorrected Proof. Both have the correct ISBN and can be consider 1st printing. But there is a difference and it all involves the printing industry.

When a book is to be published and editor will go over it to make sure everything is correct. This includes spelling & grammar, spacing, chapter numbers, page layout and also content. Editorial departments gets hundreds of books to check a week. These books are bound in a plain, cheap paperback cover. The information on the publishing date normally is on the front cover. These books are not intended for sale and will contain mistakes. Sometimes they will contain chapters that will be edited out of the final product. These are called Uncorrected Proofs and will say it on the cover.

When a book is ready t be published and they want a review or six in local papers or blogs a rough paperback or hardcover (if the publisher  thinks it will be popular) with the cover art (or dust jacket).  This will look like a real book, except for two details. Printed on the back will be the estimated publication date, the term “not for sale” and Advanced Reader’s Copy. These books are normally kept by the reviewer for their own collection, and the contract states that the review cannot pre-sell it or even talk about it except in the review.

Reviewers can review over 20 books per month (by various publishers) and this can create a large collection. For years most used bookstores would not even accept them as trade due to the “not for resale” tag.  This has made these items into rare collector items.

Nowadays you can find the Uncorrected proofs and Advanced reader copies on used book sites. This started when book-scouts would buy collections from editors and reviewers estates. Most of the books were published and out of print, and these may be the only copies out there. These items would include the term “bought in/or included with a collection bought from” in the online description.

The prices range from very cheap to expensive depending on the seller. As of right now, the unstated agreement is not to sell them until after the book has been published and out for a while.

These are usually abbreviated as Un.Cor Prf., UnCorrPro, AdvReaderCpy, AdRdCpy. So if you see these terms and are confused, email the seller and ask.






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In the Interm

In the last few months more books have been brought to The White Elephant for sale. A large collection of the Egyptian History and art books are now there.

Items are also being put up on under ElizabethCampbell. These are mostly non books (book marks, postcards & so on) as well as some used home-school materials that are missing a few pages here and there.  

Also there is currently a problem with the store email.

Working on fixing this.