Chapter 341 Sorting Out Priorities, Or, First Things First

I confessed in the past two posts that I’ve hit some serious stumbling blocks trying to complete the Dante catalogue. An underestimation of the time and effort involved and my lack of desktop publishing skill combined with some urgent family and domestic demands has made this a difficult (though still enjoyable) project. My options, as I see them, are as follows: I could just put out a list of the books and be done with it. I could leave out all the images of the books, and just put out a catalogue of descriptions, but as this is my first print catalogue and my introduction to libraries, collectors, and some other booksellers, I really don’t want to do that. This collection of books, mostly illustrated editions of Dante, have a visual appeal that I want to the catalogue to convey. I had envisioned a certain kind of “look” to the catalogue, and I’d really like to achieve that if possible. If it’s not achievable, I will settle for descriptions with images, but the bottom line is that the catalogue must have images.

I’ve been thinking about how to organize my time so that I can complete and print and mail this catalogue. My family and domestic demands are not going to change, and, truth be told, those are my first priority above all others. I’m sure it seems logical to some that if I gave up blogging and writing I’d have a bit more time. I like blogging and writing about as much as I like selling books, however, and I will note that two booksellers I’d like to emulate (Rostenberg and Stern) both sold books and wrote books. So, I won’t be giving that up either. I have until May before I will exhibit and sell my own books at a book fair again, so the lack of fairs frees up my schedule considerably. (I will be quite busy during the week of the San Francisco fair in February, but as I am working for Mr. Z. that week, there will be no prep nor follow up work as there is when I sell my own books at a fair.) I’ve also decided to continue to delay updating my bookselling website. I like selling on the internet, but for now my focus will be on print catalogues and book fairs. When things begin to improve a bit around here and I get that catalogue done, improving the website (and listing more books online) are next. Even though the website hasn’t been updated in some time, I am removing the pressure to do something with it by removing it from the list of things to do right now. Will this cost me some sales in the short run? Probably. Will I gain more sales in the long run by doing a quality job on the catalogue? I sure think so. The answer remains to be seen.

I’m reminded of the time when I became a sophomore in high school. I was so happy to have completed my freshman year and begin my second year of high school, no longer a beginner. I was surprised when my history teacher informed our class that the word “sophomore” means “wise fool”. “You think you know a lot because you’re not freshmen any more,” he said, “but you are still so unaware of so much. You are all like wise fools.”

I just completed my sophomore (second) year of bookselling, a year in which I realized I knew enough to be an antiquarian bookseller with some success. I was, however, a bit of a wise fool. If only I had realized how much more I had to learn, I would not have tried to run a website, open a shop, sell at book fairs, further my education, and print catalogues simultaneously. This year, my third in the business, I think I have learned that there is still so much to learn and that pacing is the key to learning it well.

Thanks for reading through my bookselling ups and my downs. I hope maybe a few of you booksellers can relate, or, at the very least feel very good about the rate of speed with which you issue print catalogues.

Have a good weekend! See you in the stacks!

Monday: The Solace of Good Books, Or, The Provincial Lady

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Filed under A Bookseller's Education, A Family Business, Catalogues

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