Chapter 723 Scholarship Opportunity

Lots going on here at the moment. I am working hard at my new teaching job and loving every minute of it, and I also had the great opportunity to attend and sell books the California International Antiquarian Book Fair in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago — my second ABAA book fair. Of the two dozen or so fairs I have done in the past six years, this fair was the second best I have done, in terms of sales. I had such a fun week, and I long to post more about it, but time simply won’t allow it at the moment. I’m also preparing for the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair on March 23 and busy running Tom and Huck to their various sports activities — Crew (rowing) for Tom and basketball and football for Huck. I keep reminding myself that summer is coming and that, though I’m busy now, I have lots of plans for the blog come summer!

I do have some other news, however, that I thought all of you new antiquarian booksellers and aspiring antiquarian booksellers might like to know:

Northern California Chapter (NCC)

of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA)
George Robert Kane Memorial Scholarship
Application for Summer/Fall 2013

In memory of long-time member George Robert Kane (Oct. 6, 1913 – Nov. 28, 2009), the Northern California Chapter of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America announces the availability of an Educational Scholarship. In the interest of promoting professionalism and education relevant to the antiquarian book trade, persons currently working in or actively pursuing a career in the book trade are especially encouraged to apply. The Scholarship will pay tuition cost (to $1,250) for participation in a course of study offered by the following programs in the Summer/Fall of 2013:

California Rare Book School (Los Angeles)
Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar (Colorado Springs)
Rare Book School (Charlottesville, Virginia)

Applications will be accepted until 5:00 p.m., May 10, 2013. The NCC/ABAA will notify scholarship applicants of its award decision via email by May 26, 2013. Scholarship applications may be submitted via an email attachment to the Chapter Secretary, Chris Lowenstein, at chris AT bookhuntersholiday DOT com or by regular mail to Chris Lowenstein, Chapter Secretary, c/o Book Hunter’s Holiday, 3182 Campus Drive #205, San Mateo, CA 94403.

To apply for the NCC/ABAA Educational Scholarship, please provide the following:

• A completed copy of the application form.
• A personal statement or essay (no longer than two pages) in which you describe your past or current experience in the world of rare books, your goals for the future, and what you hope to gain from the studies afforded by this scholarship.
• Professional references or letters of recommendation are welcome, but not required.

Please email Chris Lowenstein (me!) at the address listed above to obtain an application form.

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The Collective Returns, Catalogue for the 2013 California Antiquarian Book Fairs

CollectiveFinal (2) (dragged)

The Collective Returns: A Catalogue for the 2013 California Antiquarian Book Fairs

Last year at this time, a group of bookselling friends who span the coasts of the country decided to jointly produce a catalogue of books for sale at the California book fairs in February. It was such a success that we decided to do it again. I am happy to present The Collective Returns: A Catalogue for the 2013 California Antiquarian Book Fairs. Click on the link (not the image) to download a PDF or come visit us at the book fairs and get your very own print copy. This year I featured some original Dante art by California artist Sandow Birk. Click on the PDF link and you can see it for yourself.

Here are a few other books that I hope to have time to preview here at the blog in the week prior to San Francisco’s California International Antiquarian Book Fair (February 15-17, 2013):

* A lovely, small collection of fine press books.

* Beautiful books with hand-painted bindings or handwritten content.

* Ephemera and photography printed in San Francisco prior to the 1906 earthquake and fire.

* A few books and menus of interest to cocktail and mixology afficionados.

* A photo album with many original photos of San Francisco in the days immediately after the 1906 earthquake and fire, taken by a professional photographer.

* A set, complete in 13 volumes, of Campaigns of the Civil War (published in 1881 by Charles Scribner’s Sons and written by some of the major military, political, and historical figures who were part of the Civil War.)

* And of course, some new Dante items, new items written by or about American women, and new Western Americana.

See you at the fair!


Filed under Book Fairs, Catalogues, Uncategorized

Chapter 722 Don’t Call It A Comeback, Or, The Bookseller Returns


Bookmark courtesy of my friends at The Book Shop in Covina, California.

For several months now, I’ve been trying to return to regular posting on the blog and every time I do, it seems my time for writing is thwarted by other circumstances. I’m back. Again. For now. Don’t call it a comeback, because posting may not last and it definitely won’t be daily, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

Where have I been the past few months?

Are you ready for this?

I’ve expanded my bibliophilic duties to include along with bookselling another job I used to do long ago and really enjoyed. That’s right, I’ve been working at a local high school since last April.

And I’ve been tutoring some visiting students from China in English since the fall semester began.

As of last week, I began teaching freshmen and sophomore English — five classes of about 30 students apiece.


There are various reasons, many of which are interesting only to me.  One of the reasons that is worth mentioning to the book-loving readers of this blog is that if there is to be a next generation of book collectors, we who sell books must first encourage a generation of book lovers, of people who understand that reading a printed book is a different experience than reading a back-lit screen.  Many antiquarian booksellers worry about whether the generation coming up — a generation raised on the digital device — will, when they come of age, bother with something as archaic as book collecting.  Some even wonder if they’ll bother with something as archaic as book reading. 🙂

Being a mother of two people who are part of the digital generation, I have an especially vested interest in this concern.  I want my own children and my students to know the satisfaction of reading well-chosen words. The scent of ink sunk into fibrous paper like salve into a wound. The alluring glint of gleaming gilt, beckoning a reader to the contents inside. The story of another, someone whom the poetry of Christopher Morley describes as “A voice of human laughter or distress/A word that no one needs as much as I.” The satisfying “thunk” of a well-read book slammed shut when the story is spent. The passionate discussion of what makes a book great. Books provide pleasure and insight on all levels.





But so antiquarian bookselling seemed to me when I started Book Hunter’s Holiday back in 2007, and I’m still here.

It goes without saying that Book Hunter’s Holiday will keep on bookin’. I’m not closing the business, but you’ll see less of me online than in previous years. I’ll definitely see you at the 46th International Antiquarian Book Fair in San Francisco in February. In the meantime, look for some posts to preview what I’ll be bringing to the fair.

See you in the stacks and in the classroom!


Filed under A Family Business, Getting Started, Uncategorized

Chapter 721 Comfort Found In Good Old Books

Last weekend was the Pasadena Antiquarian Book Fair and this weekend is the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair. Due to other commitments, I couldn’t attend or sell books at either fair. I was a bit mopey about missing an opportunity to buy and sell books and to visit with my bibliophilic buddies, but  I chose to take comfort in a few things like my family and that familiar standby, good old books.

In addition to visiting a local estate sale to go book shopping on Friday afternoon, I noticed a few things around my home that make me realize that, while I know I’d definitely enjoy the book fairs, I’m always glad to be home.  Here’s what I noticed just by being here this weekend. First, Huck, who recently turned 12, has decided to add a touch of whimsy to my autumn decor:

Those are juggling balls you see on the left. Huck is teaching himself to juggle. This I have got to see. And I also found him conducting some kind of scientific experiment in our kitchen:

I’m rather afraid to ask what that’s about. 🙂

And then there’s Tom. Even though I stopped blogging for a long while during the spring and summer, my sons kept growing up and older. Tom started high school last month. High school! Here’s a random snapshot from the corner of his bedroom. I’d say it’s fairly representative of his current teenage state:

Skateboard for getting to and from school. Homework in backpack. 3-D glasses from Friday night movie with friends. Beatles guitar picks. Many of his current major interests are represented in that one corner — skateboarding, studying, movies, music. Not necessarily in order of importance. 🙂

Here’s a closeup of The Beatles guitar picks, which I thought were kind of fun:

When I see little vignettes around the house such as the one that I just showed to you, I’m always amused and pleased  by the completely unexpected ways in which these boys add life to my house. Then I’m grateful that I’m here to see it.

And now for the book related part. On Friday, I had to pick up Tom and three of his friends and then Huck at school. Lucky for me, the Bookmobile also doubles as a Mom-mobile. It can safely convey lots and lots of kids and teenagers as well as books.  On my way to Huck’s school, I saw an estate sale advertised on a nearby street. Of course, I took what I expected would be a short detour. (N.B. Whenever you make a stop to look for books when you don’t really have time to stop, it is virtually guaranteed that you will uncover a treasure trove of good finds.) One half-hour later, I was receiving text messages from five boys who really needed a ride and wondered where I was.

I quickly made my purchase and left to pick them up. What I found involves a lot of photos and will have to be shown to you over the next several posts, but I promise it will be interesting.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 720 New Tolkien Book on the Horizon

It’s not often that I write about books that are currently in or soon to be in print. My bookselling specialty is the hard-to-find and the out-of-print book. However, since it is fairly often that I write about my own nerdiness, I thought I would just go ahead and tell you how excited I was to read this today. That’s right. In May, 2013, a previously unknown work by J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit), will be published. What I’m most excited about is the title:  The Fall of Arthur. It’s about Britain’s legendary, amazing King Arthur.

Here’s where the nerdy part comes in:  I love Arthurian legend. When I was majoring in English during my college years, I took an entire course on Arthurian Legend. Really. (And I can still hear my parents right now, begging me to consider taking something practical, like Business. Clearly they did not know I was destined to be a teacher and then a bookseller and that Arthurian legends are just one small part of our stock-in-trade.) I loved that course and the reading that went along with it. Here’s a page from my textbook from college, written in Middle English (The Alliterative Morte Arthure). If you want to see for yourself how different Middle English is from modern English, click on the photo below and the print will be bigger.

Tolkien is not only a great storyteller; he is a master of language. One of his early jobs was writing for the Oxford English Dictionary, where he wrote specifically about the history and etymology of words.  He even created his own language, Elvish, as shown in this book, below:

I think it’s high time we revive interest in King Arthur and I think Tolkien may just be the perfect author to do it! I’m looking forward to the publication of The Fall of Arthur next spring.
See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 719 Women, Books, and Art

I found this frontispiece page of a book recently.  I like how the woman portrayed in the picture is so engrossed in her book that she appears not to notice nor to care about the person who is watching her — the artist who drew and then engraved this picture. That artist paid close enough attention to his subject to capture the sheen of her hair, the shadow on her neck, the filigree of her fine lace collar and cuffs.   The attention to detail, while typical of engraved frontispiece portraits, makes me think that the artist is capturing an important interaction — that between a reader and her book. While I’m not an art collector, this frontispiece inspired me to look around for art that featured women reading books.  These days, with more women than men reading electronic books rather than the printed kind, this sort of bookish art may become a thing of the past.  Here are a few more:

See you in the stacks!


Filed under Book Finds, Literary Influences, Uncategorized

Chapter 718 Best Loved Descriptions of Autumn, 2012 Edition

Long-time readers of this blog  may recall that just about every year I post my favorite literary descriptions of my favorite season — autumn — many of them from one of my favorite authors, Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can see previous choices here, here, and here.

One of the reasons I do this is so that I can remind myself that the seasons are changing and that autumn is indeed a beautiful season, even if you have to look for it to find it here in California, where the year-round weather can best be described as warm-but-not-hot and cool-but-not-cold.  The mild climate makes for comfortable living, but sometimes the seasons have a rather uninteresting sameness to them.

Despite the fact that the calendar says autumn has arrived, the temperatures in the Bay Area this week are supposed to be in the 80s, which seems hot enough for summer to me.  Even though Autumn officially began on September 22, my hibiscus plant, a sign of high summer in other parts of the country, did not get the memo:

And the Japanese Maple tree in the backyard has only just been notified that autumn may indeed be around the corner. A very few leaves are turning colors, but not enough to convince me it’s autumn:

No matter. Undaunted, I decorate my home with various things to bring the feel of autumn into the house, since it can not easily be found outdoors.

An old red serving tray I inherited from my grandmother, spruced up with some small pumpkins and an acorn garland.

(Do not pay attention to the tacky silk flowers. I am too busy to water real ones on a regular basis.)

A centerpiece filled with a scented candle (cinnamon), and, um, I guess I’ll just admit it, faux fruit.

(Plastic faux fruit is also tacky, but it does bring nice autumnal hues to my living room.  Don’t judge. I’m a bookseller not an interior decorator.)

A welcoming fall wreath on our front door. This one’s made of real oak leaves.

And now we can get to the matter at hand — 2012’s Best-Loved Description of Autumn! This year’s selection is an excerpt from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little Town on the Prairie, the chapter entitled, “Snug for Winter”.  If you’re looking for autumnal evocation, for something to make you feel warm and cozy, you can’t go wrong with a title like that.

In this chapter and in this particular book, the Ingalls family is preparing to move from their homestead on the prairie into the little town of DeSmet, South Dakota for the winter. After the previous, extremely harsh winter caught the family unprepared and almost caused them to starve to death, the family has decided this year to winter in town and to move there before winter actually arrives. (See the book The Long Winter for that harrowing tale of . . . well, of a really long, very cold winter on the frontier.) The houses in town are of sturdier (read: warmer) construction, and supplies for the winter can be more easily replenished than out on the cold, desolate prairie. School, another harbinger of autumn, has just started for Laura and her sister Carrie:

All through the pleasant fall weather Laura and Carrie were busy girls. In the mornings they helped do the chores and get breakfast. Then they filled their dinner pail, dressed for school and hurried away on the mile walk to town. After school they hurried home, for there was work to do until darkness came. Saturday was a whole day of busy working, in a hurry to be ready to move to town. Laura and Carrie picked up potatoes while Pa dug them. They cut the tops from turnips and helped Pa pile them in the wagon. They pulled and topped the carrots, too, and the beets and onions. They gathered the tomatoes and the ground-cherries.

All day long while the girls were in school, Ma made preserves of the red tomatoes, of the purple husk-tomatoes, and of the golden ground-cherries. She made pickles of the green tomatoes that would not have time to ripen before it froze. The house was full of the syrupy scent of preserves and the spicy odor of pickles.”We will take our provisions with us when we move to town this time,” said Pa with satisfaction. “And we must go soon. I don’t want another October blizzard to catch us in this thin-walled little house.”

“This winter isn’t going to be as hard as last winter,” Laura said. “The weather doesn’t feel the same.”

“No,” Pa agreed. “It isn’t likely this winter will be as hard, nor come as soon, but this time I intend to be ready for it when it does come.”  He hauled the oat straw and the corn fodder and stacked them near his haystacks in town. He hauled the potatoes and turnips, beets and carrots, and stored them in the cellar of his store building. Then busily all one Monday evening and far into the night, Laura and Carrie helped Ma pack clothes and dishes and books.

Whatever temperatures autumn brings to your part of the world, I hope you’ll join me in marking the change of season.  What’s your favorite description of autumn?

See you in the stacks!


Filed under Laura Ingalls Wilder, Uncategorized

Chapter 717 Views from the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair

The booth across the aisle from mine at the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair. The booths were this busy most of the day.

Last weekend I had the good fortune to exhibit and sell books at the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair. Of course, I also had the good fortune to socialize with my fellow booksellers and some repeat customers as well as to buy some books. This fair, held twice a year, in September and in March, was the very first fair for Book Hunter’s Holiday way back in 2007, and as such, it holds a special place in my heart as one of my favorite book fairs.

It’s a small, regional fair, with around 60 dealers. I like it because it’s not too far from home and, though sales are sometimes good and sometimes not as good, I almost always find good books to buy at reasonable prices. I was nervous this time around, because about a year-and-a-half ago, I had my worst sales ever at a book fair at the Sacramento fair. While that’s more a reflection on my bookselling skill than on the fair, I’ve been a little tentative about fairs since then. Still, I just can’t miss the opportunity to buy and sell books and to have dinner with my fellow booksellers so close to home and at such a reasonable price. And you can never truly predict when or why one fair will be good and another bad. When I average it out over the five years I’ve done this fair, Sacramento has more often than not been a profitable enterprise for me.
This time around, the promoter of the fair, Jim Kay of sold out every exhibitor space and had a waiting list of exhibitors. This is in no small part due to his willingness to keep the fair affordable for dealers, to promote and advertise the fair heavily, and to his sense of humor. Every time I have done this fair, whether sales have been high or low, I know that Jim consistently gets lots of people through the door — last time I did this fair, it was over 600 people for 60 dealers.

The weather was beautiful, with hot Indian Summer temperatures and sunny skies. I packed in a hurry late Thursday night and hoped the fair would be a successful one. No matter whether my sales were good or bad, I knew that at the very least I’d have a great weekend with my fellow booksellers. There were over 60 booksellers, most from west of the Rocky Mountains, and they included me (Book Hunter’s Holiday), Mr. Z (Tavistock Books), Brad Johnson (The Book Shop), Taylor Bowie (John Michael Lang Fine Books), Stephanie Howlett-West (S. Howlett-West Books), Jim Graham (James Graham, Bookseller), John Howell (John Howell for Books), Ken Sanders (Ken Sanders Rare Books). A few other booksellers also came up to assist, most notably Zhenya Dzhavgova (Z-H Books) and Greg Krisilas (Coconut Rose Rare Books and Autographs). A couple more Bay Area booksellers were also seen at the fair, examining (and sometimes buying) the books of their colleagues, including John Windle (John Windle Antiquarian Books) and Bob Haines (Argonaut Book Shop). I was sorry that I didn’t get to leave for the fair earlier, which would have also given me time to shop the lovely book shop of Sacramento bookseller, Barry Cassidy (Barry Cassidy Rare Books). Next time!

As far as the Sacramento fair goes, this one was good for me in all ways — selling books, buying books, and fraternizing with my bibliophilic buddies. I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Rather than take pictures of my own booth, which I’ve done many, many times before, I thought I’d share photos of some of my colleagues and their booths:

Brad Johnson of The Book Shop created a welcoming atmosphere in his booth.

Zhenya Dzhavgova graces the booth of John Howell for Books.

Jim Graham shows Greg Krisilas a good book.

From right to left: Stephanie Howlett-West, me, and Stephanie’s assistant for the fair, Kim (Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, 2012).

Brad Johnson and Ken Sanders celebrate the end of another Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair.

Post-fair celebratory bookseller dinner with what one bookseller called a “rogue’s gallery”.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 716 Back to Work, Back to School, Back to Books

If you’re still checking on this blog after the past several months, I am amazed. And if you’re still there, yes, I am still here. The blog and I have been silent for months for a variety of reasons, most of which are not compelling to anyone but me. To all who have emailed or called or asked in person, thank you. I very much appreciate all who noticed my absence and took the time to check in with me. And even if you didn’t notice my “radio silence” until you read this very post, thanks for reading right now. I am happy to report that I am fine, that my family is fine, and that Book Hunter’s Holiday is still here. There are a few new things to report about Book Hunter’s Holiday, and I’ll elaborate on that next time I post, which will likely be after this coming weekend’s Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair.

(Poster above is a 1940 Works Progress Administration poster. I saw it recently on a bookish website, but I am sorry to say I can’t recall which one. In any case, thanks to the person who first posted it.)

See you in the stacks!


Filed under A Family Business, Book Fairs, Organization, Uncategorized

Chapter 715 I’m Not The Only Bookseller Who, For Better Or For Worse, Loves Book Fairs

The New York Antiquarian Book Fair is happening this weekend — and I’m here, where I usually am, in California. Some day at some point in the future, I will make my way to the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, but right now life at home is not to be missed.  Look at these photos of the very rare (but not unheard of) weather we had last night:

Credit:  Phil McGrew/SF Gate

That’s lightning striking the Bay Bridge. And here’s the Golden Gate Bridge:

Have I said aloud that even though replacing our roof was an inconvenient and very expensive project, I’m so thankful we did so? Despite very heavy downpours, high winds, hail, thunder, lightning —  and yes, even a tornado warning —  there was not a drop of water inside the house last night. I am so grateful for that.

While I’ve literally been helping to keep a roof over my family’s head, I’ve also been thinking of my bookselling colleagues at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair and hoping that there are lots of book sales and that lots of fun is had by all. I have no doubt that Ian Kahn will keep us all informed about the fair with his usual photo-filled posts over at the Lux Mentis blog.

One of my bookselling colleagues and partners in February’s Collective Catalogue endeavor is writing for about being an entrepreneur.   Sunday Steinkirchner of B&B Rare Books has written a great post on the pleasures and pitfalls of book fairs and of owning one’s own business. She captures the essence of that and confirms some of my own book fair experiences when she writes:

“Trade shows are also the epitome of risk. They are expensive and time consuming, and there is no guarantee that the investment will pay off. We’ve had shows where we have doubled our investment within the first few hours… dinner on us! We’ve had complete busts whereby we and other sellers have resorted to flinging rubber bands at each other for entertainment… time to eat take-out in the hotel room. The potential for business can also be intimidating. When high expectations are not met, the tension and anxiety on the long drive home can be overwhelming.”

I highly recommend that you pop over here to read all of it.

See you in the stacks! Someday in the future, I’ll also see you at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair!

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