Chapter 539 Reference Book Acquisitions, Or, Knowledge Adds Value

I’m still working on “spring cleaning” our house this week. What a chore — a necessary chore. I feel so much better when things are organized (ok, kind of organized). πŸ™‚ Last week I made it through cleaning out and re-organizing kitchen cabinets and Tom and Huck’s room. This week it’s on to cleaning out their closet and to two storage closets we have in our hallway. I am beginning to find clothes, pantry items, and books where I expect them to be, and that makes me happy.

Thoughtful Husband has his own version of spring cleaning. He is still working on completing the rest of my bookcases. Remember these?

There are two more like that coming, and Thoughtful Husband is working on the last one as we speak. He’s only had time to assemble them in between Tom and Huck’s sports games on weekends, so it’s been slow going. As he completes a bookcase, I’ve been slowly unpacking books from last month’s Sacramento book fair and organizing my new shelves.

One of the fun things about filling my new shelves with books is that I can see where there are gaps in my various collections. Take reference books for example. I have quite a few of them, but I think a good bookseller can never have enough of them. I always try to spend some of my acquisition budget on reference books, and I bought quite a few more at good prices here and at the Sacramento book fair. I’ve said it before, but I haven’t said it again for quite some time, so I’ll say it again: Knowledge adds value. Information is one of the keys to succeeding in the antiquarian book business. Contrary to popular opinion, not all of this information is available on the internet. Much of the information you need to know you can find in reference books and bibliographies, some of which are easy to find if you know they exist and some of which are quite obscure.

Here are a couple of photos of my recent reference acquisitions, purchased largely to fill in gaps in areas of interest to me:

In the photo above, the bottom two books are California Local History, by Margaret Miller Rocq) and Basic Texas Books by J.H. Jenkins. If you’re going to collect Texas books and documents, I also suggest you read the book called Texfake so you are aware of why and how authentication of certain of these type of items can sometimes be difficult.


A Christie’s auction catalog from 1997 — The Doris Frohnsdorff Collection of Beatrix Potter.

The World of Louisa May Alcott, by William Anderson and David Wade.

A History and Bibliography of the Roycroft Printing Shop, by Paul McKenna.

Works of Maurice Sendak: 1947-1994, by Joyce Hanrahan

When I see my reference books — which now fill one 36-inch-wide, six-shelf bookcase — I am happy with what I’ve been able to acquire in three short years. Many of them I got very cheaply at library sales. A few were gifts from kind booksellers who wanted to encourage me in my budding bookselling career. Some I sought out from other booksellers, and still others came from past housecalls. But being able to organize these books in one place also allows me to see the areas in which I need to continue to add to my reference collection.

As I finally make a place for every thing (and every book) and have every thing in its place, I know these books will get much use, will help me to know as much as possible about the books I buy and sell, and will continue to bring me much satisfaction. That’s why spring cleaning is such a necessary — and in the case of books, enjoyable — chore.


Filed under Bibliography and Reference Books, Book Fairs, Book Finds, Organization

4 responses to “Chapter 539 Reference Book Acquisitions, Or, Knowledge Adds Value

  1. WJM

    Seriously: borrow TH? Only a week. Will return him in good condition and original DJ. Will pay airfare, room, board, and scout Rand-McNally high and low for Danteana for the next two years.

  2. WJM

    I actually just missed the big Air Rand-McNally seat sale, but I have a LOT of styrofoam peanuts.

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