Please accept my apologies for not blogging Friday. Huck was a bit under the weather, though he seems all better now. We spent the weekend coloring Easter Eggs and trying to finish painting the stripes on one wall in a bedroom. I must confess that, despite our bold plan, the painting is not going well. Though we meticulously taped off the areas to be painted in the striped colors, the paint bled under the tape and the edges of each stripe are smudged. We are still deciding the best way to remedy the situation. I could be disappointed. Instead, I choose to believe that it is confirmation that I am intended to be an antiquarian bookseller instead of a housepainter.
Tom and Huck have this week off of school, so blogging will be light as we fit in a few fun activities. I’ll resume my normal pace once they resume their normal schedules. Thanks for understanding.
Meanwhile, here is Part 1 of my most recent BookThink article. In an effort to break the reading into manageable chunks, I’ll post Part 2 tomorrow.
BECOMING AN ANTIQUARIAN BOOKSELLER:
SCOUTING AND FINDING SALEABLE BOOKS
By Chris Lowenstein
I recently exhibited at the San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print, and Paper Fair. It’s a large fair with over 200 booksellers showing off and selling their best books and ephemera. Someone new to book collecting and bookselling might wonder where these sellers find their inventory — most of it varied, interesting, and in great condition. Though the ability to market and sell your books is key to succeeding as an antiquarian bookseller, perhaps more important is the ability to find good books. Scratch that. Good books are everywhere. What’s most important is honing your ability to recognize and acquire the best books in the best condition at the best price. This is an infinitely more challenging task, and one of the most exciting parts of the job of an antiquarian bookseller.
A new bookseller might ask, “How do you know when you’ve found a saleable book?” The simplicity of the question belies the complexity of its answer. Author, illustrator, title, subject, edition, condition, binding — all these things and less have attracted me to the books I’ve acquired and later sold. Sometimes I buy a book because it’s the first edition by a well-known author. Sometimes I buy a book because it is the first written account of a significant historical event, or because it offers a different perspective than most of the other accounts of an historical event. Perhaps it’s a much-loved illustrator or a beautiful binding that attracts me, content notwithstanding. Perhaps it’s a book completely outside of my field of specialty, but it’s in fine condition.
Just as it’s difficult to pin down the definitive characteristics of an antiquarian bookseller, it’s difficult to pin down what kind of book is best for an antiquarian bookseller to sell. Like true beauty — or dare I say –pornography, I just know a saleable book when I see it, and based on my knowledge of a particular author, genre, or subject, its value is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps the best strategy a new bookseller can take is to learn what knowledge we need to recognize books that we can sell.
To be continued tomorrow . ..
See you in the stacks!