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

Happy Birthday to Me

Written on January 3, 2008

Note that this blog has moved. The new URL is biblioblography.briancassidy.net. Please update your bookmarks.

It dawned on me yesterday, now that the holidays have calmed down, that Thanksgiving marked the one year anniversary of my taking over the shop. It’s my one-year birthday as an open shop. In honor of this momentous occasion, I offer:

18 THINGS I’VE LEARNED THIS YEAR (Or: 2007, A Bookseller’s Year in Review)

1) I will never run out of books. Never. There are always more books to be bought.

2) A corollary: There are always more GOOD books to be bought. If I feel like I’m not getting many of them, I’m not working hard enough.

3) I will never catalog all the books I have. Never.

4) I will always be messy. Always. Piles of books and paper are my destiny.

5) People who haggle over a five dollar book were never going to buy anything anyway.

6) Books ain’t money. Books don’t even make me money. I make me money. My overhead, time, and expertise create value. Please keep that in mind next time you think I’m being unreasonable offering you $100 for a book I’ll sell for $300. If you would like to rent a space and buy a reference library and catalog your book and list it on the internet and drag it to book fairs and wait who-knows-how-long to sell it, please be my guest. But if you want money today, please don’t insult me by suggesting you’re somehow being cheated.

7) Note to self: never give estimates of what you might pay for books over the phone or via email. ALWAYS have the books in hand first. Related: an annoyingly high percentage of people who bring in their books to “sell” only want a free appraisal.

8) “No, you can’t leave the books I don’t want here. Please, I really must insist. Seriously, have you looked behind this counter?” (See #s 1,3, and 5)

9) A first catalog is like falling in love – everything about it seems easy and fun and exciting.

10) A second catalog is more like marriage – a lot more work and a lot less exciting. But done well (fingers crossed), a lot more satisfying.

11) I still get a little thrill at diving into a box of new acquisition. I doubt this will ever go away or get old.

12) Nor, for that matter, will the little pang of dread when I remember I have to catalog most of them.

13) Shelving books is oddly calming – almost meditative.

14) Book fairs are a lot more work than they look like – a friggin’ lot of work. Two days (at least) to pack, a day to set up, two days (usually) to exhibit, then break-down, maybe a couple of days of travel, and then unpacking all those books you brought once you return. Even one-day local fairs require about a full week of work. Even so…

15) I love book fairs. Being in a roomful of dedicated dealers and serious buyers is just about my favorite way to spend a day.

16) I can’t tell you how many people come into the shop and tell me how great it is that I’m here and how much they love bookstores and how awful it is that so many are closing. Then they leave without buying a thing. This happens at least a couple times a week. I will never get this.

17) Related to #1 and 2: More and more I understand this is a business about customers, not books. To a large degree anyone can get books (witness the explosion of people calling themselves “booksellers”). What separates the successful dealer from the one who bitches and moans all the time? One has customers, the other doesn’t. The question is not whether you have books or not, the question is do you have anyone to sell them to.

18) I love my job.

Comments closed



7 Comments

  1. Comment by Chris Lowenstein:

    Congratulations on one year, Brian! I especially relate to #s 1, 3, and 8. However, that first catalogue being like falling in love has not been the case for me, lol. Best wishes for continued success!

    January 3, 2008 @ 6:22 pm
  2. Comment by E. Lyngen:

    A Melville quote related to your professed messiness:

    “There are some enterprises in which a careful diorderliness is the true method.”

    from Moby Dick, chap. 82

    January 15, 2008 @ 7:12 pm
  3. Comment by Bruce from The Bookshop Blog:

    Great List Brian!

    I love number 6. I’ll be putting up a link to this on our site in a day or two. If you’d ever like to submit something to us, I’d love to post it. We would do our best to drive a little traffic your way.

    Bruce
    The Bookshop Blog

    February 17, 2008 @ 9:06 pm
  4. Trackback from antiquarianbooknews.com:

    Happy Birthday to Me…

    It dawned on me yesterday, now that the holidays have calmed down, that Thanksgiving marked the one year anniversary of my taking over the shop. Its my one-year birthday as an open shop……

    February 22, 2008 @ 9:50 am
  5. Pingback from learning about rare books and be careful on eBay | Bookshop Blog:

    [...] This post was actually written back in January by Brian Cassidy. The 18 things he’s learned in 2007. Here’s my favorite one: 6) Books ain’t money. Books don’t even make me money. I make me money. My overhead, time, and expertise create value. Please keep that in mind next time you think I’m being unreasonable offering you $100 for a book I’ll sell for $300. If you would like to rent a space and buy a reference library and catalog your book and list it on the internet and drag it to book fairs and wait who-knows-how-long to sell it, please be my guest. But if you want money today, please don’t insult me by suggesting you’re somehow being cheated. [More…] [...]

    February 22, 2008 @ 7:32 pm
  6. Comment by Josie:

    I love #’s 4..5..8..all are so on the money!!!! Take a couple of aspirin and keep moving in the forward position!!!

    February 23, 2008 @ 1:45 pm
  7. Comment by prying1:

    Re: #4) I will always be messy. Always. Piles of books and paper are my destiny.

    I try to convince my wife that inverted pyramids are an art form.

    ~

    ~

    ~

    Doesn’t work…

    February 26, 2008 @ 2:43 am