One hundred posts on this blog. Can I still keep my book conceit and refer to each post as a chapter, or is it awful to have chapters in the triple digits? When I started blogging in September, I wanted to keep a record of what it was like to start an antiquarian book business. I realize that my life outside of books sometimes finds its way into these posts, because I also want a record of my family just as they are right now and because my family and business life currently overlap. I thank those non-family members who read this blog for being indulgent when my posts digress from the usual bookish topics.
If you’ve been reading regularly, thank you. If you’ve just discovered this blog, feel free to browse through the archives (right sidebar). Mostly, this blog is just a collection of my thoughts on bookselling, which are, at this time, the thoughts of a beginner who wants to learn more. I find great fulfillment in what I do for a living, and I hope that, above all, you get a sense of that in my writing. Perhaps you’ll want to become an antiquarian bookseller or book collector, too? The world needs more of us. In addition to the fact that antiquarian books are fun, selling and collecting them are also small (but sometimes important) acts of preserving and transmitting culture and history.
I don’t know where my bookselling adventures will lead me (that’s half the fun, isn’t it?), but I will continue to pursue my bookselling career, even when I make mistakes along the way, and write about it here.
Today, I am thinking about some of the books I plan to bring to the upcoming San Francisco Book and Paper Fair. I try not to get too attached to the books I’m selling, but there is one find in particular — my first really good find from back when I was just beginning to collect and scout for books — that I am considering offering for sale at the fair. I don’t have a big attachment to this book itself. It does not fit in with my larger specialities of Dante Alighieri or Western Americana or Pioneer Women. The collector part of me, the part that gets so excited over a good book find, is sentimental because this book was my first good find and it encouraged me to keep trying to be a bookseller at a time when I wasn’t sure if I had the skills it takes to be a good bookseller. The collector part of me wants to keep it for that reason alone.
The other part of me — the practical, bookseller part — says: “Sell this book. You need money to print and mail your Dante catalogue, and selling this book will allow you to do that. This is a business, and you need cash flow to move your business forward and get your catalogue and your name exposure. Since this title doesn’t fit into your areas of specialty, what’s the point of holding onto it?”
I’m not sure there is a point to keeping this book. It really doesn’t belong in any of the areas in which I sell books, but it’s a great book. Common sense tells me it’s time to offer it for sale. Common sense also tells me that just because I offer it for sale at a book fair doesn’t mean it will sell. I might still have it after the fair. The final thing my common sense tells me is that I’ll really know for sure whether it’s as good a find as I think it is if the book does sell at the price I ask. Would that not be the best tangible reminder of the fact that I had the skill (and luck) to find the right book at the right price in the right condition?
What would you do?
In an effort to be professional, I’m not going to name the book in question until after I sell it — whenever that is. I’ll let you know if I decide to offer it for sale at the fair and if it does indeed sell. If you want to know before that, you’ll have to come by my booth at the fair. 🙂