Book Hunter’s Holiday, ABAA was founded in January, 2007 by Chris Lowenstein, mother of two and high school English teacher. Though Book Hunter’s Holiday does not have a brick and mortar shop, the firm has an online antiquarian book shop, sells books at several book fairs each year, and publishes print catalogues of books for sale.
We sell antiquarian books, ephemera, and manuscripts, and while we offer books for sale in all subjects, we have a specialty in Dante Alighieri, Western Americana (particularly books by and about women), and hand-painted bindings. If you’d like to receive future catalogues and bulletins by either email or post, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Book Hunter’s Holiday came to be:
I love everything about books: The scent of ink sunk into fibrous paper like salve into a wound. The alluring glint of gleaming gilt, beckoning a reader to the contents inside. The story of another, someone whom the poetry of Christopher Morley describes as “A voice of human laughter or distress/A word that no one needs as much as I.” The satisfying “thunk” of a well-read book slammed shut when the story is spent. The passionate discussion of what makes a book great. Books provide pleasure and insight on all levels.
I have gravitated toward books and the book business since I can remember. One of my earliest teenage jobs was at a local bookstore, and I majored in English at Santa Clara University. During college, I worked part-time at Santa Clara’s Orradre Library and interned during the summers at San Francisco publisher Chronicle Books. However, my heart was in studying books more than it was in making them, and so a few years after graduating, I returned to school for a teaching credential. In 2000, after nearly six years, I retired from teaching high school English shortly before the birth of my second child to devote the majority of my time to my young family. It was during this time that what began as a book-collecting hobby became full-fledged bibliomania.
When I was teaching, I collected illustrated editions of Dante’s Divine Comedy. I liked to show these books to my senior students, who were studying the work at the time. The images helped them to understand the ways different people had interpreted Dante through the centuries. When I stopped teaching, I missed sharing my books with others. For recreation, I read as many books as I could about book collecting, particularly the series by Nicholas Basbanes. At the end of his first book, A Gentle Madness, I reconsidered the Dante collection I had begun to build and I thought to myself, “Where have you [antiquarian books] been all my life? Why wasn’t I aware of this as a career option before?” I decided I would make a fulfilling life raising my family and selling antiquarian books, and when my youngest child entered elementary school, Book Hunter’s Holiday was born.
In founding Book Hunter’s Holiday, I have transformed what was previously a hobby into a career. Bookselling and I seem made for one another. I have the love of books that is the prerequisite for any collector or seller of books. I have a good general knowledge of literature and history. I am strangely addicted to the research and downright detective work it often takes to identify and properly describe a book. More importantly, I love a serendipitous find — researching it, cataloguing it, and then matching it up with a person who will appreciate and buy the book.
For the past three years I’ve written this blog, where I describe my life as an antiquarian bookseller and the fantastic books that catch my eye. I also write occasional articles for the Fine Books and Collections Blog and The Accidental Antiquarian column for BookThink, an online publication for booksellers. In order to learn more about the trade as well as to promote the trade to others, I am a member of the Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA), The Book Club of California, The San Francisco Corral of Westerners, and The Ephemera Society of America. I became a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) in 2011.
One of the best things about being an antiquarian bookseller is learning every day how much more I still have to learn. In order to educate myself, I’ve been fortunate enough to return to school, sometimes even with a scholarship. I’m a member of the Class of 2007 of the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, the Class of 2008 at Rare Book School, UCLA (CalRBS), and the Class of 2009 at Rare Book School, University of Virginia (RBS).
Still wondering what an antiquarian bookseller does and how that’s different from your typical used bookseller? Start here.
See you in the stacks!