Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair from an Outside Perspective

This September, Tavistock Books took a step back from exhibiting at the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair, and our Master & Commander Vic Zoschak attended from a buyers standpoint alone. We pick his brain and see how it went! Photo by ZH Books.

Sacto

So, Vic – attending the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair as an Outside Observer. For the first time in how many years?

Gosh, the last time I remember just shopping the Sacramento Book Fair was the late 80s, before I took the plunge into the bookselling world.  I have no doubt that Sacramento was one of the first book fairs at which I ever exhibited [perhaps eclipsed by the now long-time defunct Berkeley Book Fair, a one-day event that started set-up at 6:30 in the am, with an opening of 10 am!].

These days, the Sacramento event is ably run by Jim Kay, who has done so a number of years now, and he has even turned it into a semi-annual fair, every March & September.  Jim tells me there’s been some recent turnover in the bookseller ranks, i.e., other long-time exhibitors besides myself have stepped aside [e.g., Carpe Diem & no Ken Sanders this time], but all the booths looked taken, so there were, no doubt, others waiting in the wings for us to move aside & to take our places.

I noted that the Book Lair & ZH Books had moved over into my old spot, which I had shared with Book Hunter’s Holiday.  They both seemed to like that corner.  :)


What were your overall impressions of the fair, from a strictly buyers standpoint? Well put-together, as usual? Crowded?

Jim’s hallmark is indeed a well-run event.  The crowd seemed the same, which is to say, by noon there was a buzz in the hall, and lots of folks in the aisles.  Saw plenty of tickets being written.  And the snack bar back in the corner continued to put out quality fare…  I had the chili this time around-  quite tasty.



Was there anything you haven’t noticed before that was called to your attention as a non-exhibitor? 

No, I can’t say that anything comes to mind in this context.



How was the buying? In recent years you have had great luck at Sacramento. Was it the same, after not being able to take first pick at everyone’s goodies during setup?! (One of the best parts of exhibiting, in our not so humble opinion… seeing what is available before anyone else!)

While I did buy some things that I thought interesting, in terms of potential profit, I see the end results as being modest, at best.  In other words, nothing great that would command an exclamatory “Whoohoo, look what I found!”

It’s hard to say whether or not not being on the floor during set-up occasioned a missed opportunity.  I personally didn’t hear of any great finds, but that’s not to say it didn’t happen.  Certainly such has happened in the past at this fair [even once or twice for yours truly], so who can say?


What do you think for the future? Will you continue to attend Sacramento as a buyer only or are you considering exhibiting at any upcoming Sacramento fairs? 

I think the Sacramento fair’s immediate future is assured.  As I said, Jim does a great job, and the fair is apparently well supported by both the local exhibitors and the local book buyers.  As to myself, I confess, a half-day devoted to the fair, vs 4 days…  well, let’s just say I loved being home by 2 pm Saturday, and being able to catch the last few innings of the Giants game.  :)

Well… we can all hope that Vic might exhibit at Sacramento again (perhaps when there is no Giants game to be watched)! It’s just not the same without him!

Share

Why You Ought to Collect Antiquarian Cookery Items (and it’s not JUST because we have them in stock)

We’re sure everyone is tired from their long holiday weekend (holidays are SO tiring, aren’t they?) so we thought we’d start you back into the groove with a short and sweet blog on why you ought to be looking at antiquarian cookery material, if you aren’t already. Ready? Sit back with a scone or some leftover pizza and enjoy these five reasons as to why you should look twice at cook books!

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 12.05.20 PM

1. Antiquarian cookery – which can include anything from books of recipes (known back-in-the-day as “receipts”), menus with price lists, types of foods, cultures or food gathering processes, and even advertisements for household products used in the kitchen (which would often include recipes in their booklets, for good measure) – provide an important “historical and sociological background that goes far beyond the realm of cookbooks” (American Antiquarian Society). Cook books can provide vital information for historians and people studying changes in society throughout the decades. It is hard, for example, to compare the price of a car in 1950 to the price of a car in 2017. They are so different – safety features are more in place, CD/MP3 players… the ability to park itself? How could someone compare one to the other? However, you look at a recipe book or a menu and you can see the direct change ordering two eggs in 1930 versus ordering them in 2017! Or you can see the differences of society’s views on health and well-being by seeing how they ate and what they ate. Interesting, no?

2. Cookbooks can provide quite a bit more of history than you imagine. The American Cookery genre truly began in the 1700s, with the publication of The Compleat Housewife by William Parksin 1742. In America alone, there is almost 300 years worth of cook books to study! In the rest of the world? Well, let’s just say that the first cookery book and collection of recipes known to man is a work (falsely) attributed to Marcus Gavius Apicius (falsely, as the surviving copy dates from the 4th or 5th century AD, and Apicius lived in the 1st), a Roman gourmet and lover of food in the time of the Emperor Tiberius. Now how’s THAT for a genre to explore?

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 11.59.38 AM

3. Often people are drawn to genres of antiquarian items that show an item or an endeavor that might otherwise be forgotten, as it’s practice is no longer in use. Take building an irrigation system, for example. People pore over texts of how early man developed irrigation without electricity or train tracks without bulldozers. Why should it be any different with cookery? There are plenty of recipes and routes of cooking that might otherwise be forgotten if it wasn’t for us taking interest in the history of cooking.

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 12.03.43 PM

4. Antiquarian Cookery items are affordable! While of course you get your four or even five+ figure items (think The Compleat Housewife and earlier international works), for the most part cookery books are an available genre to most collectors. As AbeBooks.com tells you, “anyone interested in starting a [cookbook] collection can easily target the 1950s and 1960s – when America’s cooking culture exploded – without breaking the bank. By targeting these decades, collectible cookbooks can be snapped up for $50 or less.” Don’t believe me? Check out our own website – our cook books and menus can easily be nabbed for under $50. Which brings me to point #5…

5. We have them in stock!!! What? I said that it is “not JUST because we have them in stock”… Search our website for some kitchen-y keywords or browse our Potpourri section for some interesting finds and wonderful gift ideas. Enjoy!

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 12.01.45 PM

Don’t miss our blog post from 2014 Gourmets, Drunks & a (Short) History of Cookery Books for a full and funny run of the history in this delicious field!

And here are some interesting reads in the world of collecting antiquarian cook books:

https://www.abebooks.com/books/cooking/collecting-cookbooks.shtml

http://www.onfoodandhistory.com/blog/antiquarian_cookery_books/

http://www.americanantiquarian.org/cookbooks.htm

 

Share

The Cult Following of Charles Bukowski

bukowski5

Charles Bukowski instills a strong response in many of those who read his poetry, novels, nonfiction and short stories. Readers are either impressed by his openness and honesty or repulsed by his abrupt and vulgar approach to sexuality, drugs and the seedy aspects of low living. Here in California I have heard more references to Bukowski than anywhere else in the world! That is, of course, since he spent much of his life living in California, writing about Los Angeles, and even passed away in San Pedro in 1994. But let’s not focus on his death! This blog honors his birth and his writing, not his passing. 

bukowski2Heinrich Karl Bukowski was born on August 16th, 1920 in Germany. His father, a member of the U.S. Army that remained in Germany after WWI, and his mother brought him to the United States at the tender age of two. Bukowski was a slight child with a poor complexion, often bullied by his peers and beaten by his father who believed in a heavy hand when correcting his child’s faults. 

Despite an uneasy beginning, Bukowski grew and realized from an early age his interest lay in the written word. (And in alcohol – it is reported that he first tasted wine at age 13 in a friend’s father’s wine cellar and thought it was wonderful, stating “It was magic… Why hadn’t someone told me?”) At 19 Bukowski enrolled in Los Angeles City College, but dropped out shortly thereafter at the start of WWII to move to New York and pursue writing full-time. Unfortunately these dreams were not to be realized at this time, as he spent 6 years being rejected from publishers. In 1946 he decided to give up his dreams of writing and spent ten years drinking and doing drugs on a spree of debauchery and depravity across the United States, ending up in Los Angeles in the late 1950s near death. Bukowski began to write once again, focusing on poetry as his means of expression. He began by getting published in underground papers and magazines, and kept up a hard lifestyle – gaining a reputation as a poet with a dark side. Unsurprisingly, “the main character in his poems and short stories, which are largely autobiographical, is usually a down-and-out writer [Henry Chinaski] who spends his time working at marginal jobs (and getting fired from them), getting drunk and making love with a succession of bimbos and floozies” (Ciottii/Poetry Foundation). Bukowski used his own life for inspiration in his work, and in that respect the lifestyle he chose with drugs, drinking, prostitutes and unsavory living was helpful to his writing career! 

bukowski4In 1959 Bukowski (or Hank, as he was to his friends) published his first book of poetry, Flower, Fish and Bestial Wail, truly establishing himself as a poet, and also dealing with such simple themes as abandonment and desolation in a sad world where all are alone. (No big deal.) He showed his writing style that had changed little but perhaps in the more modern times was more easily accepted – he had a “crisp, hard voice; an excellent ear and eye for measuring out the lengths of lines; and an avoidance of metaphor where a lively anecdote will do the same dramatic work” (Ken Tucker). He continued to publish books of poetry in the upcoming decades, producing a staggering number of books of poetry, as well as those of prose and novels. The subjects of his work remained the same – he lived the life of the poor and the down-trodden, associating himself with drinking, drugs, music, violence, prostitution and gambling. According to Adam Kirsch, Bukowski described his own readership as “the defeated, the demented and the damned.” His first book of short stories was published in 1972 and entitled Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions, and General Tales of Ordinary Madness. In general, his works were often offensive, violent and sordid, but did a few amazing things… brought awareness to the lives of the down-and-out and opened up the literary world to an entirely different style of writing. 

Our holding of 'the reading - Vallejo - virgins' by Bukowski - a 1st printing circa 1979.

Our holding of ‘the reading – Vallejo – virgins’ by Bukowski – a 1st printing circa 1979.

Bukowski didn’t just write full-time, however – he was a post office clerk for over a decade in the 1960s in California. He performed readings of his work internationally and published until his dying day. He was known as the “laureate of American lowlife” – perhaps why he drew such a cult following and is still popular today. Bukowski did what many would not even attempt – he described, in detail, the life of those no one wished to live as. He brought attention and interest to the group of people he felt most at ease with. His posthumous work has been almost as prolific as the works published during his lifetime! At least 25 volumes of his poetry, nonfiction and short story collections have been published since his death alone, and one can assume there are more works out there just waiting to be brought to light.

bukowski3

Share

That Other Printer You Ought To Know

William Caxton

Every single person reading this blog would (I hope) know the name “Gutenberg.” Right? Now here’s another major name in the printing world, perhaps not known by everyone… William Caxton. Maybe you know him, maybe you don’t. We aren’t here to judge your knowledge of the printing business. We’re just here to educate you! So sit back, relax, and learn something new.

caxton3William Caxton was born sometime during the years 1415-1424, which scholars have appropriated since his apprenticeship fees were paid in 1438. He grew up and was educated in the district of Kent, before leaving for London to be apprentice to Robert Large, a wealthy London dealer or luxury goods. Caxton made trips to Bruge after the death of Large in 1441, and eventually settled there in 1453. He was successful in his business as a merchant, and after becoming governor of the Company of Merchant Adventurers of London he became a member of the household of Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy and sister to two Kings of England! This was a fortuitous time in Caxton’s life, as due to his international travels for the Duchess’ household he observed the brand new printing press business in Germany (as the Gutenberg press had began in 1440) and immediately set up his own printing press in Bruge and within a few years produced the first book known to be printed in English, published in 1473 Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye (“A Collection of the Histories of Troy” ) – a book of French courtly love translated by Caxton himself. (Fun antiquarian book world fact: only 18 copies of this printing still exist [kind of shocking there are even 18], and one sold by the Duke of Northumberland in 2014 and fetched over 1 million GBP.)

caxton4After his success with the printing in Bruge, Caxton brought his art back to England in 1476 and set up the country’s first ever press in a section of the Westminster Abbey Church. The first book printed in England itself was an edition of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Other early titles printed by Caxton included Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres translated by the king’s brother in law Earl Rivers, and Caxton’s own translations of the Golden Legend in 1483 and The Book of the Knight in the Tower. Caxton also printed the first ever English translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, as well as Le Morte d’Arthur.

[As you can probably already tell, if you didn't know the name Caxton that is:

a) shocking

b) embarrassing

c) all of the above

but in all reality, he is not as spoken of as Johannes Gutenberg and his press. So yes, Gutenberg is given big props for developing the early European movable type system, but why isn't Caxton's name also taught in schools?!]

caxton1Caxton’s death is recognized as taking place in 1491 or 1492, as that is when his work stopped being produced. He was succeeded by his Dutch employee Wynkyn de Worde, who is recognized for moving the printing of books in English away from an excitement enjoyed by the aristocrazy and nobility and toward the idea of printing for the masses. De Worde is often known as “England’s first typographer” and printed over 400 books in over 800 editions. Caxton, god bless him, printed 108 books of 87 different titles. However, Caxton did much of his translating himself, working on an honest desire to provide the best translation possible to his customers. Despite the fact that de Worde is known for standardizing the English language (as there were, at that time, so many different dialects and different spellings that it was often difficult to keep track), Caxton is absolutely also honored for beginning this process and though printing books of no remarkable or significant beauty, then at least for beginning the process of printing books in English at all!

Share

Some Top Literary Blogs for Bibliophiles and Antiquarian Maniacs (Like Us)

As a literary blogger myself, I like to follow quite a few blogs online that are written by like-minded individuals. The internet is a wonderful thing, is it not? Perhaps we can see both the good and the bad when it comes to online reading. You can find all the research in the world, but also are privvy to the intimate daily thoughts of Donald Trump through Twitter. You can read The Documents of the Hexateuch written in 1893 on Google Books, and then in less than ten degrees of separation find some hateful and badly written webpages on the damnation of both religious and anti-religious folk. Why am I telling you all this, you may very well ask?

The only blogs that we at Tavistock Books can be responsible for are the ones that are published on www.tavbooks.com (AKA the best blog in the world)! So no matter where I direct you to, where we might find inspiration or what you may read online… do us a favor and read everything (even this) with a grain of salt! Always remember that you can’t believe everything you read online. Well, except pretty much everything written by Trump on Twitter. That is definitely all true.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 4.21.15 PM

 The New Antiquarian: The Blog of the ABAA

Now, we might be a teensy bit biased toward the ABAA’s blog, as our blogs have been featured pieces on there several times! But in all truthfulness, if you’re looking for an antiquarian book world blog updated constantly with all different types of pieces… works on book collecting, on authors, on events, on problems in the book world – even thefts… look no further! In an all-around sense, the New Antiquarian sets you up with a little bit of everything… rare book world style!

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 4.23.48 PM

 Fine Books & Collections

The Fine Books & Collections online magazine has A LOT going on on their main page. Don’t let that deter you from delving in! Their blog page is a bit calmer and has a lot of interesting pieces… you can search through by genre and also by writers/bookstores that some of the blogs come from. Oh, and they don’t just report on antiquarian books… within you can even find works on recent TV shows based on famous authors and reviews of brand new literature hitting the shelves!

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 4.22.41 PM

 The Public Domain

The Public Domain is a very interesting find, in my not so humble opinion… their main focus, in their own words, is to be “an online journal and not-for-profit project dedicated to the exploration os curious and compelling works from the history of art, literature and ideas. In particular… the focus is on works which have now fallen into the public domain, that vast commons of out-of-copyright material that everyone is free to enjoy, share, and build upon without restriction.” The Public Domain focuses, as stated, on many out-of-copyright material – much of which you would not have heard of before, as they are often no longer printed for the masses! If you’re searching for the literary blog that will guarantee you the most interesting topic of conversation at your next dinner party… look no further!

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 6.42.02 PM

 The Book Designer

If you’re looking for something a bit less antiquarian and a bit more focused on the modern-day book world of e-books, publishing, self-publishing and producing, I suggest The Book Designer as a place to start. I find some of their blogs/articles a bit too “Self-Help-y” for my taste (nothing wrong with self-help, and in their defense their tagline is “Practical Advice to Help Build Better Books”), but if you’re looking to begin a writing or publishing or book designing career in any form or fashion, The Book Designer will have at least a hint of what you need.

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 6.43.46 PM

 Lit Hub

A great literature-lover blog that has a bit of antiquarian, a bit of modern, and a bit of cheek is Literary Hub. Just this past minute I read a blog on there I missed a couple weeks ago about Jane Austen’s ridiculous Mrs. Bennet being the most subversive and free-spirited of all of Austen’s characters! (Despite also being the most widely mocked.) This is just the type of literary article you can find on LitHub… along with reposts, new posts, literature and politics… a bit of something for every bibliophile who encounters it. Check it out!

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 4.23.17 PM

Also, check out this awesome list by Stephen J. Gertz on his book-blog BookTryst (another great blog) – briefly detailing some of the best antiquarian book blogs out there for our perusal!

But no matter where you head off to (online, that is) after reading this… just remember your promise! The moment you come across the article “Turning away Refugees is an American Tradition” on one of these websites, do as you will – snort, scoff, giggle then feel guilty about it, make sad droopy eyes… anything but shoot the messenger!

Share

The Swedish Nightingale

By Margueritte Peterson

lind

While working directly under Master and Commander Vic Zoschak at Tavistock Books, one name continuously caught my eye. Any time a piece came across our desks with this name mentioned, my eyes zeroed in on it. I couldn’t tell you if it was because I have a musical background or if I just loved the sound of it (lilting, feminine and birdlike, IMNSHO as Vic would say) – but whenever I read “Jenny Lind” it brought a smile to my face. More recently we had a fantastic item in stock – a letter from Florence Nightingale to the Swedish Nightingale Jenny Lind, asking for tickets to one of her concerts. What an amazing piece, no? We featured it and it did sell, but just having it around made me think of Jenny Lind once again and I decided it was time we all knew a bit more about this famous opera star!

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 8.20.29 AMJohanna Maria Lind was born in 1820 into a rather unusual household for the times. Technically illegitimate, she was born to a bookkeeper and a school teacher who were not yet married. Though her mother had already divorced her first husband for adultery (understandable but definitely not the norm in the early 1800s), she would not marry Lind until after her first husband passed away, for religious reasons.  This meant that Johanna was 14 years old when her parents actually married. Not much is known if this was difficult for Lind as a child, but one could presume not quite since she studied from home in the school her mother ran for girls. I would hope that no other student would dare to make fun of the school mistress’ daughter!

When Johanna was about 9, her voice was overheard by the principal dancer of the Royal Swedish Opera’s maid. The maid brought Mademoiselle Lundberg with her the next day to hear Lind sing, and the principal dancer was so astonished that she arranged an audition for Lind at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, where she would begin by studying with Karl Magnus Craelius. Within a year Lind was on the stage and touring around Europe singing for the masses. Within two years, she suffered damage to her vocal cords and was out of the circuit for a few weeks. At 18 Lind starred in Weber’s Der Freischutz at the Royal Swedish Opera and then just two years later she suffered another bout of damage to her voice. This time around she began working with vocal coach Manuel Garcia, who made Lind remain almost silent for 3 months while healing her voice, and then began to teach her proper vocal technique – something she had never had the time to learn! Garcia should be noted as the teacher who saved Lind’s voice, as continuous trauma would have shut down her singing career for life. 

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 8.20.16 AMIn 1843 Lind was in the midst of a tour in Europe and while in Denmark met author Hans Christian Andersen, who fell madly in love with her. Though Lind did not reciprocate his feelings, the two became friends and Andersen is said to have written several fairy tales inspired by her! One can only assume that the later “The Nightingale” was one of these few. A year later, Lind began performing in Germany and Austria, where she connected with musicians Robert Schumann, Hector Berlioz and Felix Mendelssohn (who, though married, also fell madly in love with her and then died prematurely 4 months later, leaving Lind shattered) who were all inspired by her great talent. Mendelssohn even wrote a part for her in an opera debuted after his death, where she took the proceeds and donated them for a musical scholarship in Mendelssohn’s name. It is around this time that Lind became known as the “Swedish Nightingale.” She was madly popular in both musical and non-musical communities, as she donated much of her earnings to charities of her choosing – and would continue to do so for decades. 

After performing in Germany and Austria, Lind began singing in England at Her Majesty’s Theatre for Queen Victoria and other aristocrats (you know, people who could afford it). At the age of 29 while performing in England, Lind suddenly announced her retirement from opera – an announcement that still puzzles scholars to this day. Lind would continue to perform in concerts, but rejected all parts in operas from that day forward. 

lind2In 1849, P.T. Barnum (as in the circus) approached Lind to begin a tour of the United States. Lind agreed, and due to Barnum’s intense publicity of her coming arrived in the United States already famous. Her performances were so anticipated that her concert tickets were being sold at auction for triple their worth! Throughout the year she spent touring America under Barnum’s management, Lind made roughly $350k. Today, that equates to almost $10 million. Guess what Lind did with the money? You probably guessed correctly – she donated most of it to American and European charities! After a year under Barnum’s thumb Lind broke their contract to manage herself – somewhat tired of the intense publicity of her performances. During this time her pianist, Julius Benedict, left and went back to Europe, and Lind hired German pianist and composer Otto Goldschmidt to take his place. The two were married in less than a year in Boston at the end of their tour. 

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 8.25.22 AM

Our highlighted Lind item in stock now! An early to mid 19th century intermediate player sheet music & vocal book, featuring many songs made popular by Ms. Lind! See it here>

Lind and Goldschmidt returned to Europe in 1852 and spent a couple years living in Dresden, Germany, before eventually settling down in England. They would have three children together – Lind giving birth in her late 30s and early 40s, and Lind mainly focused on her life as a mother and wife. She would continue to give charity concerts throughout her life (passing away in 1887 at the age of 67), but as the years went on they became fewer and farther between. The worst part of researching this “Swedish Nightingale”? Apparently though she made a very early phonograph recording for Thomas Edison on one of his early cylinders, no recordings of her voice exist today. I don’t even think I can describe my disappointment on hearing that! It undoubtedly have been interesting to hear the voice that captured the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people…

 

Share

Tavistock Books Reaches a Landmark Anniversary!

This Saturday will mark a triumphant year in the history of Tavistock Books. It will be our 20th Anniversary of opening our doors at 1503 Webster Street in Alameda, California. We took a little time to sit down with the man that started it all, one Vic Zoschak Jr., to see how the years have changed his attitude towards this trade and what he has learned in his experiences.

And Psst! Don’t miss a special email this upcoming Friday regarding a little celebratory gift we have for our loyal customers! 

me9-3

Q: So V – Tavistock Books is celebrating 20 years since opening it’s doors! Does it feel like time as sped by, or have you felt every moment of the last 20 years? :)

The time has simply FLOWN by! It may sound trite, but it seems just like yesterday when I opened the doors at 1503 Webster St on 15 July 1997, a date which was a bare two weeks after my retirement from the Coast Guard. I didn’t know if the ‘experiment’ would work… I [mentally] gave myself two years to see if I could make a go of his bookselling thing. And now, here it is 20 years later!

Q: What do you feel at 20 years in the trade that you didn’t feel or know at 15 years or even at 19 years?

To be frank, I can’t say there was an epiphany at this coming milestone… the one thing that was made clear from the beginning was that bookselling is an extremely difficult way to make a living, and that not only does it depend on what you know [about books], but also who you know. I can truthfully say that early on, were not my CG pension there as a safety net, I probably would be doing something else today.

Q: What are you most excited about in this next phase of Tavistock’s Life?

I had to chuckle a bit on reading this question, for the most anticipated event in my future is retirement! lol

I turn 65 in a few months, and while I’ll probably be like most booksellers, and never fully retire, just fade-away, I also know that keeping up a shop, even one only open “By Chance or By Appointment” is not something I wish to do for too much longer. The provisional game plan at the moment, health [etc] cooperating, is to keep the shop open till it’s 25th anniversary in 2022, and celebrate that date with a “closing” sale. Then I’ll probably just get an office close to the house, so I can walk to work, a means of commuting to which I aspire.

Q: At your 25 year Anniversary you may be head of the ABAA, correct? Did you ever imagine when you were starting out that that could be in the cards for you?

Should the members of the ABAA do me the honor of electing me as their President, my term will be from 2018 – 2020. So in 2022, presuming nothing untoward happens between now & then, I’ll be a past-president of the ABAA when my shop’s 25th Anniversary rolls around. And no, in 1995, when accepted for membership in the ABAA, I did not imagine this future was in the cards.

Q: In a general sense, how has the book business changed for you over the last two decades? Do you see those changes for good or for worse? And if for worse – that won’t deter you from the next years in the trade, right? :)

Probably the biggest change has been the pervasiveness of the internet, and the concomitant demise of regional scarcity as an economic condition in the book trade. Pre-WWW days were characterized by scouting trips to find books, and on a good weekend, here in the Bay Area, one could hit a dozen or so shops, hoping to find some books to make the time & effort worthwhile. Now, one can search 20,000 shops with the click of a mouse. Books once described as scarce, or even rare, can be found in multiple copies via ABAA.org and similar sites. In reality, the number of copies didn’t change, just access to them. And this access is a great boon to collectors, and a challenge to booksellers. I can’t say it’s better or it’s worse, it just is, and as a bookseller, one must adapt to to the business environment to stay in business. In that vein, an adaptive bookselling philosophy is have either (1) the best copy, (2) the only copy or (3) the cheapest copy. I have, for the most part, subscribed to the first 2, and such has seemingly stood me in good stead these last 2 decades.

Q: How are you celebrating this year?! (Lemme guess… a manhattan and a ball game. :P)

The manhattan definitely [after work though!]. I’m also going to have a 20% off sale on July 15th, in a small effort to say thank you to all who have given me their business these last two decades. Without my customers’ patronage, this 1997 experiment of mine would have failed long ago.

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 10.39.59 AM

Share