In 1969, Fawcett Gold Medal published The Specialists as a paperback original. In 1996, James Cahill printed a first hardcover edition, and after a few years I bought the remainder stock from him and have been selling it—sometimes at $25, sometimes at $20. When I opened the eBay store last week I dropped the price a penny, to $19.99.

It’s sold nicely over the years, a good steady item for us. Then yesterday my capable if occasionally caustic assistant, David Trevor, pointed out that, at the present rate of sale, we’d still have copies on hand in 2045.

So we’ve reduced the price to $4.99. I don’t know that we’ll keep it that low forever, so you might want to strike while the iron is hot.

Or would you prefer to look before you leap?

The book’s afterword begins below. But first I should tell you something about shipping costs, because they can be confusing. For domestic orders, we charge $3.99 for the first item, $1.99 for each additional item. We’d like that combined shipping rate to extend over an entire order, but it can be tricky to program, at least for us, at least for now. If you order four different books, and if eBay asks that you pay $3.99 shipping for each of them, click the button to REQUEST INVOICE FROM SELLER. Then we’ll invoice you at the combined-shipping rate, and THEN you can pay, and we’ll ship your books.

If you buy multiple copies of a single title, you should get the low shipping price automatically. Thus an order for 11 copies of THE SPECIALISTS would come to $49.90 plus $3.99 plus $19.90, for a total of $73.99. (It would also solve your gift-buying problems for a while, and earn you the undying gratitude of young David Trevor.)

For non-US orders, we ship by USPS Priority Mail; you pay the actual shipping cost plus $1.99 per item handling fee. Again, if the eBay auto-invoice seems not to reflect this, REQUEST INVOICE FROM SELLER.

Now back to The Specialists. Here’s a taste of the afterword:

I suppose it’s fair to say that I’m most often identified as the creator of series characters. My two active series, concerning a bookselling burglar named Rhodenbarr and a sober drunk named Scudder, are the ones people are most likely to know about. Readers with a wider range may be familiar as well with a series of seven novels about an insomniac named Tanner, and another of four novels about a horny kid named Harrison.

A relative handful will have followed the adventures in short–story form of two other gents, an attorney called Ehrengraf and a killer named Keller. But that’s about as far as it goes. Hardly anybody, asked to name all of my series, would come up with The Specialists.

A fat lot they know. As far as I’m concerned, The Specialists is unequivocally a series novel. As it happens, the series is only one book long. But I figure it’s a series just the same.

What on earth is he talking about, Maude?

Easy, there. I can explain.

In the spring of 1966 I moved into a big old house on a small old lot smack in the middle of New Brunswick, New Jersey. I set up an office for myself on the third floor. I had a massive old desk, and the movers couldn’t get the thing up the last flight of stairs. It wouldn’t fit. Most desks of that vintage disassemble, but not this sucker. They had to cut the back legs off it. I propped up the back of the desk with two short stacks of paperback novels, plopped a typewriter on top of it, and went to work.

Three and a half years later, when we moved to a place in the country, I left the desk right there, and I left the books to keep it from tilting. By that time the desk didn’t owe me a dime, because I’d sat at it and written a whole slew of books. I’d already written the first Tanner book in Racine, Wisconsin, but I wrote the other six in New Brunswick, along with After the First Death and Such Men Are Dangerous and more pseudonymous work than I’ll admit to at the moment. (I wrote No Score, the first Chip Harrison novel, in that house, but not on that desk. I moved downstairs to the first floor and wrote it on the breakfast–room table. I can’t remember why.)

I also wrote The Specialists at that desk…

Want more? The afterword appears in full in Afterthoughts, my 99¢ piecemeal eMemoir. Or you can read it for free at the LB’s Afterthoughts page. And do I have to say that the very best place to find it—and have it and hold it forever— is in your own personal autographed copy of The Specialists?