I posted the question I asked about shelving at a book fair to the Bibliophile List and the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar List last night. Now, I’ve mentioned before that such lists can be helpful. When I awoke this morning I already had 15 different messages advising me on shelving ideas, packaging methods, and book fair supplies. I am still determining which method of shelving will be best for my books at this particular fair, and I’ll post photos of my ultimate decision.
And, I’m telling you again: If you are a new bookseller, you simply must be a part of an email list. They have often stopped me from reinventing the printing press, so to speak. If you want to become well-informed about such controversies as the benefits of spine-out vs. face-out shelving and alphabetizing vs. just grouping books by subject, then sign up now! (If, however, you are a non-bookselling friend or family member and reading this and your eyes are glazing over at such arcane bookselling information, then stop reading now. Just be happy that I take the time to think about how I want to present my business to the world.)
At the recent Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar in August, I had the great privilege of being instructed by Terry Belanger, founder of Rare Book School at University of Virginia and a 2005 MacArthur Fellow. (I promise to post another time about both the Colorado Seminar and the Virginia Rare Book School, because both are amazingly helpful to new booksellers.) While I was mulling over all of these responses, it occured to me that Professor Belanger has already written a book on the very subject of arranging books and it was perhaps written with me in mind:
Belanger, Terry. LUNACY AND THE ARRANGEMENT OF BOOKS.
New Castle. Oak Knoll Books. 2003. 8vo. stiff paper wrappers. (ii), 24 pages.
A humorous and poignant essay on the idiosyncrasies of book arrangements by collectors over the centuries. Professor Belanger treats the reader to some of the idiotic methods of categorizing and shelving books. One gem from an etiquette book of 1863 decreed that a perfect hostess will see to it that the works of male and female authors be properly segregated on her book shelves. Their proximity, unless they happen to be married, should not be tolerated. This book will bring a smile to the face of any bibliophile. Belanger, founder of the Book Arts Press, is the University Professor and Honorary Curator of Special Collections at the University of Virginia. First edition, third printing.
Price: $ 10.00, or, in my case, priceless.
You can order your own copy from Oak Knoll.
Below, you can see why I need this book and need it now! My folio sized books are on the top shelf of my sons’ closet, right next to the box I use to store other treasures — their artwork and schoolwork. While I like to think of it as keeping my treasures together in a safe place, perhaps it is lunacy?
Now, for those of you who live in homes with attics, basements, and rec rooms and are wondering why I would store books on a closet shelf: I need to keep the books I sell out of little hands, and I live in a house that is “only” about 60 years old. Like most post-WWII suburban homes in California, it has no attic, no basement, and very few closets or built in shelves. What, you ask, can a house like this small tract home offer to a bookseller? It’s California location has sunshine and beauty almost 365 days a year and is only a couple miles from helpful grandparents who like to babysit when their grandchildren’s mother goes to book fairs. Lunacy? You be the judge.