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    Adventures of a rare book dealer (and former small bookshop owner).

Archive for 'The Book Biz'

Baltimore Book Fair (Belatedly [Very])

Finally got around to uploading a small group of photos from last September’s Baltimore Book Fair, where I exhibited and which takes place in conjunction with the Summer Antiques Fair. You can see the photos on Flickr with my annotations.
It’s a great fair. Set-up (as you can see in the photos) was a snap. [...]


Getting There…


Evaluating an Archive: Or Why I’m Glad I Have a Huge Dining Room Table

Feeling like crap today. Bad cold. Fortunately I have this to keep me occupied:

It’s newly-arrived archive I’m evaluating. I love going through, digging into, and organizing an archive, trying to piece together the story it tells. Especially useful in these situations is an over-sized dining room table (and an understanding wife). Can’t say much about [...]


Over-Pursuing: On Paying Too Much For Books

It happens. You miscalculate scarcity or demand. Or a widow asks you, tears in her eyes, “Is that all?” A dealer charms you with a book’s virtues. Or assures you “The only one on the internet right now.” You get overexcited at an auction. Or you drool over some choice item at a book fair. [...]


Phone Call of the Week Month Year.

“This is Brian. Can I help you?”
“Yeah. Where you located?”
“Um, I’m open by appointment. What was it you were looking for?”
“Esoterica.”
“Are you looking for something in particular?”
“You know: esoterica. Says here you sell esoterica.”
“Yes, odd or unusual books are a specialty.”
“Book!? Naw. I’m looking more for like videos or DVDs.”
“Sorry?”
“Esoterica videos.”
“Well, I’m a bookseller.”
“But I [...]


Book Buying Conversation Of The Day

SHE: “This book is going for $85.00 on the internet. I’ll take $25.00 for it though.”
ME: “Let’s take a look.”
SHE: “Well, I said it’s going for $85.00.”
ME: (typing) “MmmHmm”
SHE: “You don’t believe me?”
ME: (typing)
SHE: (straining to see my computer) “What would you pay for a book worth that much?”
ME: “For this book and these couple [...]


2009 Colorado Antiquarian Seminars

I just posted this over at the Fine Books and Collections blog, but though I’d put it up here too for the three or four people who read this blog but not the one at FB&C (and if you’re not, you should!):

I would just list to pick up where Chris left off and recommend that [...]


An Experiment: Cheep Reads

The last couple of days I’ve had some success posting some special deals to my Twitter account (@briancassidy), but in the interest of not annoying those friends and followers who would prefer their tweets without commercial interuptions, I’ve started a new account: @cheepreads. (Tweet+cheap, get it?). So a couple times a day or so I’ll [...]


Live, from the Santa Monica Book Fair!

I leave tomorrow for the Santa Monica Book Fair where I’ll be exhibiting (Booth 712a) and thought I would try something a little different.
Through the wonders of modern technology (read: my iPhone), I’ll be posting nearly-live updates from the fair – from set-up to break-down and everything in between, maybe even a few from the [...]


Been a Crazy Summer

I’ve been neglecting this blog (again). The summer has just been crazy; traveling / vacation, family visits, daughter out of school and assorted other major and minor personal distractions have served to conspire to keep me from posted here. In between all of this confusion, I have managed to get some actual work [...]


“Have the right books”

That’s Larry McMurty’s simple advice to booksellers from this profile. He continues:
Junk is a major problem, it tends to creep in. The taste of the bookseller is important. We sell only our kind of books, a general humanities selection, all in very good condition.”


Edwards Books to close

Edwards Books of Springfield, MA was at the center of one of my favorite bookselling memoirs: Suzanne Strempek Shea’s Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama and Other Page-Turning Adventures From a Year in a Bookstore about her time working in the shop after battling breast cancer.
Sadly, the shop is closing.


So many books…

I’ve spent the past two days going through over 300 boxes of books that were part of an estate. I estimate I looked at over 7500 books. Now, here’s a question. How many books/boxes did I go home with? Take a minute. I’ll wait.
Ready? Have your number?
Answer: Five boxes. [...]


Bookseller as Economic Barometer II

Okay, seriously. I mentioned last week that I was being offered a lot more books than normal and I wondered if perhaps this was an indication of the weakening economy. But it’s now official. I’ve bought / been offered more books over the last two weeks than I have over the preceeding [...]


Another Recent Conversation

“Do you have any old books with clasps on them?”
“You mean that would be attached to the covers and used to close the book?”
“Yes, exactly.”
“Does it matter what the book is?”
“No, I collect books with interesting clasps.”
“Actually, I do. I have this lovely 19th Century Bavarian prayer book.”
“Oh, that is nice. I’ve never [...]


“Will we have a world in which the only value books have will be those of the rare object, making all libraries in effect rare-book libraries?”

This prescient question comes courtesy of a Chicago Tribune piece, The future of books resides in their past:
What is amazing and inspiring about books is just that: their very physicality, the sheer thinginess of them, the fact that you can hold a book in your hands, thump a couple of knuckles on the cover, riffle [...]


A recent conversation with someone selling books

SCENE: The shop. A woman has brought in three nineteenth-century books. Two are poor-condition reprints of classic works. One is a handsome reprint of a decidedly minor poet. Some nice plates, but otherwise unremarkable.
ME: I’m afraid these just aren’t in good enough condition. This one is nice, though. I [...]


Strand Follow-Up

Picking up on the news Friday that employees of the legendary Strand bookstore in NYC are suing for discrimination, Gawker has an interesting (if often juvenile) discussion going on (scroll down to the comments section). And colleague Michael Lieberman raises some important questions:
Is there a point when a bookstore becomes too big to remain [...]


Impersonating an Author

Hoaxes Hit Bookstores:
The call came from someone who said he was the Los Angeles blogger and first novelist Mark Sarvas, who was reading at the store in a few days and seemed to be in a pinch. His car had been impounded, he needed money to get it back and he needed it right away.
“I [...]


ABE Changes

For those readers who are not themselves booksellers, the recent fee hikes at abebooks.com, one of the most widely-used online sites for the buying and selling of used and rare books, likely have passed unnoticed. In the relatively small world of book dealers, however, the additional costs have been the topic of conversation for [...]


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