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

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?”


“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.”


“Esoterica videos.”

“Well, I’m a bookseller.”

“But I typed ‘esoterica’ into Google and they say you sell esoterica.”

“Yes, but books.”

“JUST books?”



“Did, perhaps, Google ASK if you MEANT ‘esoterica’?”

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“Ah. I don’t think that’s the word you’re looking for.”

Daily Links – October 21, 2009

Rosie the Riveter bookends. Yum.

My DIY publishing experiment, WITH A LITTLE HELP. This is the future of publishing and bookselling. Pay attention.

Essential plot twists for writers. 42 ideas for your third act. Not much new under the sun.

Google's page turners. Oops!

Daily Links – October 20, 2009

Model/Actress in Afrikaans photo-novels. Fascinating piece on a genre I never knew existed.

Daily Links – October 17, 2009

Why Your Idea to Save Journalism Won't Work (a checklist). Very funny. Painfully accurate.

Daily Links – October 16, 2009

UNPACKING MY LIBRARY. Elegant Variation unpacks his long-stored library and has an excellent book recommendation.

Alice in Wonderland nudes. Alice/pin-up mashup. A little SNFW.

Daily Links – October 15, 2009

Radical Militant Librarian tee. Must have. Too cool.

Daily Links – October 10, 2009

Ugly and Bizarre book covers. Our buddy William at Hang Fire got a nice plug on Boing Boing about, well…

Book Review: "The Man Who Loved Books Too Much". Jeremy’s got one of the best revews I’ve read so far. I’m reading the book now.

SLJ Editor to Cushing Academy Parents. An open letter to the bookless library.

THE DIY AUTHOR. Interesting back-story on the marketing and logistics of one self-publisher.

Daily Links – October 9, 2009

Rich guy dislikes poor people, wants local kids to "lose sleep" over plan to shut library. Rich a-hole works to close town library, makes kids cry. Really.

Daily Links – October 7, 2009

My (sort of) Fourteenth-Century Bar Mitzvah. “And so it came to pass that on the 27th day of Tishri in the year 5725, young Stephen ben Kenneth ben Edward ben Morris ben Aaron of the House of Gertz (formerly Gershowitz, “Horse Traders to the Czar Since 1826”), who dwelt in the land of Queens in the province of New Judea also known as La Ciudad de Nueva York, reached his majority and was accepted into the congregation as a man because God, blessed be He who bestows savings bonds, apparently figures that when a boy’s sperm squad is mature enough for successful reconnaissance and friendly fire that’s all He needs to know, the kid’s man enough to read from the Torah, lead the congregation, or at least form a minyan.” Book Patrol’s Stephen Gertz in rare form.

Daily Links – October 6, 2009

Wondermark's Genre Fiction Generator. Easy peasy.

Daily Links – October 3, 2009

Hitchhiker homepage takeover. Wait? There’s going to be a Hitchhiker’s Guide app for the iPhone? sound of me rolling on the floor moaning with anticipation

Daily Links – October 2, 2009

Books in Hard Times: Conference Recap. Must-read summary, also from Philobiblos.

Designer Bookbinders International Bookbinding Competition Winners for 2009. Book Patrol has a great round up. Amazing work.

Collecting Bibliomysteries. Philobiblos has some excellent links to resources and lists about this sub-genre that so appeals to book lovers.

Vade Mecum. A bit old, but Laura from b00n3rd has an excellent overview on these medical manuscripts.

Daily Links – October 1, 2009

Beloved Children's Books [Of Recent Note]. The staff of The Morning News recall their favorites.

Cassette tape skeletons. Kottke pointed me towards book-artist Brian Dettmer’s latest project. Very cool.

Apartment Therapy: The Amazing Staircase. Prepare to drool over these bookcase stairs. Biblioporn ahead.

Reminder: Roman Polanski raped a child. Related: Finely-argued skewering of Polanski’s defenders.

Chinatown. James Hynes on Polanski’s “Ezra Pound Defense.”

Daily Links – September 30, 2009

Using Ford Madox Ford to Fix Wolverine. How to fix Wolverine according to Ford Madox Ford.

Culling books and potatoes. Sarah on the bibliophilic pleasures of Ronald Blythe’s new book.

Skinner's Quiz Box. Paul Collins on that car-trip staple the “Yes-No” book.

Daily Links – September 29, 2009

Stop Making Sense. Surrealism makes you smarter?


Things have been quiet around here, and with good reason. I recently completed a cross-country move from our beloved Monterey to the Washington DC area. Yes, sadly I had to close my bookshop. But unlike other stories of bookstore closings, this was not a sad tale of diminishing readers and sales, the woes of Amazon, etc. In my case, it’s much more mundane: My wife got a new job, and so we needed to move.

Needless to say, the business has moved with me (and THAT is a blog post all by itself), but I will be working out of the house for the foreseeable future. I have much I want to write about my three years running my shop in Monterey and what I learned doing it. And more still about the book scene here in the nation’s capital.

But for now, this is just a note to say that I am still alive and that postings here will resume again shortly — and are likely to be more frequent now that I won’t have a shop to worry about. So stay tuned…And thanks for your patience.

Daily Links – May 2, 2009

Chicago Gang Calling Cards. Wicked cool collection of ephemera.

Here’s Exactly What’s Happening in Colorado. Part Four.

Friday is the Last Day to Receive $100 Tuition Discount for Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. Part Three.

Here’s What I Said A Year Ago: Ten Good Reasons Why You Should Consider Going to the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. Part Two of Chris’ series.

Lots of Scholarships Available for the 2009 Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. Part One of Chris Lowenstein’s (of Book Hunter’s Holiday) series on why you should attend the venerable Co. Book Seminars.

Inappropriate coloring books. Via ABE’s Reading Copy.

Daily Links – May 1, 2009

Larry Lessig's REMIX Available as Free PDF. An excellent book on the future of copyright in the internet age, including its implications for books.

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 others, I can give you $35.00″

SHE: “But I said this is an $85.00 book even without those others! I can’t take that!”

ME: (trying to hand the books back) “Well, there are people ASKING $85.00. But prices for this book on this condition start at about ten. I understand if you don’t want…”

SHE: “Okay, $35.00.”

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 anyone reading this – whether dealer, collector, librarian, or simply book lover – consider attending this year’s Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. I graduated in 2006 and quite simply my business would not be anywhere close to where it is today without my having attended. It is no exaggeration to say that the Seminar easily saved me two or three years of effort and learning on my own by trial and error. Between the advice given, information bestowed, contacts made, and inspiration received it is an investment in time and money well worth making. Indeed, in the years since I attended I have made back what I spent on my trip many times over simply through the books I’ve sold to people whom I met via the Seminars. What I wrote shortly after returning from the Seminars, I still agree with and re-post here for anyone thinking about registering:

I’m a bit overwhelmed at the thought of coherently summing up the experience of this year’s Annual Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, which I was lucky enough to attend. So much is packed into the week. So I’m just going to kind of list my thoughts in the order they occur to me -

– The most common question I’ve gotten from other booksellers is “Was it worth it?” To which the simple answer is, you better &%$#@(&%-ing believe it was. Every penny, every hour, every bit of lost sleep was worth it.

– The seminar struck a difficult balance between being useful for the newbie while not boring the more experienced sellers. They managed, in my opinion, to engage both the more advanced attendees as well as those just beginning. This is, of course, a testament to the faculty.

– Was a surprisingly diverse group. Many attendees were literally just starting out. Others had been working at it for year. A few open shops. I was also interested to see that there were a fair number of librarians and pure collectors in attendance. I was also struck by the number of (like me) younger students. Still a minority (about ten of about fifty), but as someone who’s used to usually being the youngest person in a group of booksellers, a nice change. I think part of the liveliness of the discussions stemmed from what was a reasonably eclectic group.

– In a strange strictly-speaking kind of way, the information given during the seminars was in some ways the least of the entire experience. Which is not to say the information wasn’t invaluable, or that this alone wasn’t worth the price of admission all by itself. It was. But for me, two other elements are what really made the seminars outstanding…

– The first was how what the faculty taught told you at least as much about what you DIDN’T know as what you did, and in this way sketched out the boundaries of your expertise while simultaneously inspiring (at least me) to continue to learn more.

– And second, the other amazing part of the week were the other attendees. I think I learned more from the other “seminarians” than anyone else. In addition, it was wonderful to finally be able to talk with other people who know what you’re talking about. We all basically work alone in a business that most people don’t understand. What a relief then to talk books and not have to explain what you’re talking about. Haven’t laughed so hard as I did last week in a LONG time. In addition, the other students are, of course, the people who will be your colleagues for the foreseeable future. Good people to know.

– Highlights? Faculty member Terry Belanger. Erudite, engaging, a bit eccentric and with the driest sense of humor I think I’ve ever encountered, he made what were often fairly dull topics (bibliography, collation, etc) utterly fascinating.

– Also: good bookscouting. Paid for my plane ticket with a few finds from our various field trips. Huzzah!

In short, one of the best week’s of my life. Can’t recommend it too highly. Beg, borrow, or steal but go go go. You won’t regret it. Happy to answer other questions for anyone who’s interested.

As Chris pointed out, there are many scholarships available (indeed more than ever before). But even without scholarship support, any bookdealer or bibliophile looking to expand their knowledge, grow their business, or meet their colleagues would be well advised to attend.

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