Category Archives: A Bookseller’s Education

Chapter 711 More Scholarship Opportunities For Those Wishing To Further Their Bookish Education

I am pleased to tell you about two scholarships which I did not mention in my previous post about the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, Rare Book School, and California Rare Book School.

First, you are probably aware from reading previous blog posts here that my very own mentor, Mr. Z of Tavistock Books, is a bookseller who has been very generous to me and to many other new booksellers with his time, with his advice, and even with his reference book library.  He has even offered a free, annual Reference Book Workshop for many years.  He has been generous because he wants to see those truly interested in learning the antiquarian bookselling trade become great booksellers.  To that end, Mr. Z is, for the first time, offering the Tavistock Books Educational Scholarship. From the Rare Book School website:

The Tavistock Books Educational Scholarship is a full-tuition scholarship opportunity that is available to all antiquarian booksellers interested in taking Joel Silver’s course, “Reference Sources for Researching Rare Books” (L-25), at RBS in Charlottesville, Virginia. One Tavistock Scholarship will be awarded in 2012. Preference will be given to individuals in the early stages of their careers and to those who would not otherwise be able to attend RBS without scholarship assistance.

To apply for the Tavistock scholarship, please submit a 2012 summer application to RBS no later than 16 April 2012. In a cover letter, discuss your reasons for applying for the scholarship to attend “Reference Sources for Researching Rare Books”; please include a brief description of your work in the antiquarian book trade, financial needs, and other relevant information. While not required, a recommendation letter from an ABAA member to accompany the application would be beneficial. Scholarship applicants will be notified of decisions by 30 April 2012.

The Tavistock Books Educational Scholarship is only available for “Reference Sources for Researching Rare Books” during the 23—27 July 2012 session in Charlottesville, Virginia.

If you’re reading this, Mr. Z, thanks so much for all you’ve done for me and for many other antiquarian booksellers who are learning the trade! We all appreciate it!

The second scholarship opportunity is offered by the Northern California Chapter of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABAA). That just so happens to be the chapter to which I was recently elected Secretary.  As such, it’s my job to make sure people know about the George Kane Memorial Scholarship.

George Robert Kane Memorial Scholarship

Application for Summer/Fall 2012

In memory of long-time member George Robert Kane (Oct. 6, 1913 – Nov. 28, 2009), the Northern California Chapter of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America announces the availability of an Educational Scholarship. In the interest of promoting professionalism and education relevant to the antiquarian book trade, persons currently working in or actively pursuing a career in the book trade are especially encouraged to apply. The Scholarship will pay tuition cost (to $1,200) for participation in a course of study offered by the following programs in the Summer/Fall of 2012:

California Rare Book School (Los Angeles)

Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar (Colorado Springs)

Rare Book School (Charlottesville, Virginia)

Applications will be accepted until 5:00 p.m., May 11, 2012. The NCC/ABAA will notify scholarship applicants of its award decision via email by May 25, 2012. Scholarship applications may be submitted via an email attachment to the Chapter Secretary, Chris Lowenstein, at or by regular mail to Chris Lowenstein, Chapter Secretary, c/o Book Hunter’s Holiday, 3182 Campus Drive #205, San Mateo, CA 94403.

To apply for the NCC/ABAA Educational Scholarship, please provide the following:

•            A completed copy of the application form.

•            A personal statement or essay (no longer than two pages) in which you describe your past or current experience in the world of rare books, your goals for the future, and what you hope to gain from the studies afforded by this scholarship.

•            Professional references or letters of recommendation are welcome, but not required.

To request an application, please contact Chris Lowenstein/Book Hunter’s Holiday at:  chris AT bookhuntersholiday DOT com.

What are you waiting for? If either of these scholarships might help you, go ahead and apply! You’ll never know if you don’t try.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 710 It’s That Time Of Year Again

What time of year is that, you wonder?

It’s that time of year when I remind you of the many excellent educational opportunities for booksellers and all of the corresponding scholarship opportunities. (If you know of a program I left out, please leave a comment and let me know.)

First, there’s the wonderful Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. If you are considering becoming an antiquarian bookseller, if you have recently started your business, and even if you’ve had a bookselling business for years, this seminar will teach you more than you thought possible in one short week. In addition to that, you will leave having met many more booksellers than you already know. I attended the seminar myself in 2007, shortly after I opened Book Hunter’s Holiday, and five years later it is still very helpful in the day-to-day way that I conduct my business.  Here are ten good reasons you should consider attending this seminar.

Next up is Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.  Another bookseller once described it to me as “graduate school for booksellers”. With specialized courses such as Introduction to the Principles of Bibliographic Description and Book Illustration Processes to 1900 offered to booksellers, collectors, and librarians, these week-long courses will help you sharpen skills used on a daily basis by antiquarian booksellers — skills in identifying, researching, and writing about books. I had the great good fortune to attend Rare Book School in 2009. Are you wondering whether Rare Book School is for you? You can read about the details of my experience there here, here, and here.

Across the country from Virginia’s Rare Book School is California Rare Book School, on the campus of UCLA. With similar specialized courses to its companion school at the University of Virginia, California Rare Book School offers courses this year such as History, Identification, and Preservation of Photographic Materials and Old Books for Young Children. I took a course called Books of the Far West at California Rare Book School in 2008. If you’re wondering what it was like, you can read about my experience in more detail here and here.

Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, “Well, rare book schools and antiquarian book seminars are all very well and good and there’s no question that they’d be useful for me, but these things cost money.” Having applied to these programs not long after I had opened my business, I wasn’t sure I had the cash flow to attend.  I am happy to say that I have twice benefited from partial and full scholarships to these excellent programs. Sure, it’s possible to apply and not receive a scholarship, but you’ll never know if you don’t try. Go ahead. Dream a bit about what your business can be. Dreaming is good. But then take some steps to make your dream happen. Good luck!

There’s help. There are, in fact, many scholarships and partial scholarships available (many more than when I attended these programs a few years ago), and the time to start applying for these is now.

Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar Scholarships.

Rare Book School, University of Virginia Scholarships.

California Rare Book School, UCLA Scholarships.

Tomorrow:  One More Scholarship Opportunity

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 709 Barter Books, Or, The Story of “Keep Calm and Carry On”

I have a goal in mind. Some may call it a fantasy, but it’s real. It’s a goal. I will do it some day, even if it’s not for years. (Oh, my, this goal is starting to sound a lot like Catalogue #2.) My goal is to take a literary tour of England. I’ve been there once before, years ago, for a few days shortly after graduating college. I visited some of the usual tourist spots — London (the British Library!), Stratford (birthplace of Shakespeare!), Cambridge (I liked it so much when I visited that I sent my parents a postcard asking them to send money so I could stay and go to school there — they didn’t).

Even though I’ve been lucky enough to visit England once, I didn’t have enough time to see many of the places I wanted to. I’d like to go to London Rare Books School. I’d like to tour the Lake District (home of Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth and other poets). I’d like to visit Oxford. I’d like to tour a grand old country house. I’d like to enjoy tea and a scone the British way. But most of all, when I return, I’d like to visit the bookshops of England.

I was reminded of my goal of visiting England and its bookshops when I saw this video today about Barter Books, which is one of the most beautiful bookshops I’ve seen in a while.

I’m adding this place to the list of things I’d like to see when I get to England some day. I think you should, too. Meanwhile, Keep Calm and Carry On!

See you in the stacks!


Filed under A Bookseller's Education, A Family Business, Book Related Products, Uncategorized

Chapter 706 No, The ABAA Is Not A Misspelled Fan Club for Disco Supergroup ABBA, Or, Benefits of ABAA Membership

When I started Book Hunter’s Holiday in 2007, I spent considerable time wondering whether I could or should become a member of the ABAA (Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America). I knew that the three book fairs sponsored by the ABAA are the largest in the United States, and I was fortunate to find a mentor who was already a member of this distinguished group of antiquarian booksellers. I was also lucky that my mentor invited me as his guest to local meetings of the Northern California Chapter of the ABAA so I could get to know some of the bookseller members of the group and check it out for myself. Not everyone is so fortunate. What is a new bookseller to do if he doesn’t know any members of the ABAA or doesn’t know about much about how to go about joining this grand organization? Keep reading.

Are you an antiquarian bookseller? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an ABAA  member or thought about joining this trade association of the best rare booksellers in the United States?

On March 7, at 2:00 p.m. ET, you can learn about the history of the organization, its goals, and its requirements for membership as well as participate in a question and answer session by signing up for an informational “Webinar” (an internet-based seminar). To learn more about it and to sign up to participate, be sure and click here.

UPDATED:  Read a report of a bookseller who participated in the last Webinar here.

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Chapter 704 Also Seen Around the Book Fair in Pasadena, Or, Legends of Southern California

I have a few more photos from the book fair to share with you, photos of various books, booksellers, and related items.  Hope you enjoy!

I just like the cover of this book, and its title fits the way I will remember this particular book fair:

IOBA (Independent Online Booksellers Association) Officers — Vice President Howard Prouty of ReadInk on the left and President Joachim Koch of Books Tell You Why on the right.

I am in love with the hand-colored frontispiece of this miniature book:

Cute series books from Tavistock Books:

I’m a sucker for Italian books with lovely bindings (yes, these shown below are mine, some of which sold during the course of the fair). If you have any like these, and are interested in selling them, please let me know.

You can’t go to southern California without thinking about the movies.  This circa 1887 Isaiah West Taber photo album of San Francisco, Yosemite, and parts of southern California is ready for its close up. Coming soon to a theater near you . . .

. . . it’s ABAA Book Fair, The Movie! No, really. Cinestories is making a short promotional piece about the book fair and filmed many of the books on display at the fair, including a couple of my own. I really hope my books don’t end up on the cutting room floor. I and many other booksellers were also interviewed for the short film they’re making.  It was exhilarating and exciting! It was also extremely awkward! I am definitely not a natural in front of a camera. I made them let me “practice” my answers once so that I could avoid saying aloud California-isms that, after living here my entire life, I cannot avoid saying, things like “like” and “um” and the worst one of all, “totally awesome!” What kind of antiquarian bookseller says “totally awesome”?  (Answer: Apparently I do when nervous or excited, but I try to keep that to my internal dialogue with myself. It’s not pretty on-screen or at a dignified antiquarian book fair.)

Nervousness aside, it was totally awesome being interviewed. 🙂

I didn’t get enough of a chance to leave my booth and walk around and take more photographs, so these next are from my own booth again. Note to self: Do not expect to have time to walk around at a fair with 200 booksellers if you expect to stay at your booth and sell books to the 2,500 people who walked through the door. Next time, enlist a friend as an assistant. Assistants are, like, totally awesome! I’m sorry. I’m in a humorous mood today, and I can’t help myself. At least I have until now avoided the other really awful California colloquialism — totally rad.  As in, my bookselling good luck charm — the Dante bookend  — is totally rad and I am so glad he came to this fair to bring me good luck.

My other bookselling good luck charms — a poker chip from a poker tournament I won and a St. John medal. St. John of God is the patron saint of booksellers. He was himself a bookseller in Spain in the 1500s.  I bring these good luck charms along because I need all the help I can get and to remind me that antiquarian bookselling is part having good books, part knowledge and skill, part gambling, and part hoping and praying that your fair is a good one.

One of the best things about a book fair is that you often dine out or have drinks with colleagues at the end of the day. Some of my colleagues are real foodies, always seeking out the best restaurant in town or the most exotic type of food. Bookselling adventures combined with culinary adventures are terrific. It’s always a pleasure to eat with my food-loving friends, because then you get desserts like this one:

Totally rad:  Ken Sanders, me, and Cynthia Gibson being regaled with antiquarian bookselling legends in the Sheraton lounge at the end of the last day of the fair.

See you in the stacks!


Filed under A Bookseller's Education, Book Fairs

Chapter 703 Part 3 of the 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair 2012, Or, No Retreat, Baby, No Surrender

You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

I woke early Friday morning, planning to finish setting up my booth and do a little book shopping prior to the fair opening to the public at 3:00 p.m.  When I entered the exhibit hall, I saw a table with lots of bookseller catalogues that visitors to the fair could take with them. What a delight to see The Collective Catalogue, featuring my books and the books of my bookselling friends right next to the other bookseller catalogues! (See top left corner.)

Here’s my booth as it finally looked when it was all set for the fair:

Some bookshelves:

More bookshelves:

My booth was on a corner, so I did what I could to utilize the outside edge of my real estate:

Glass counter case:

The fair opened at 3:00 p.m. sharp, and I am happy to say that many people filled the wide aisles and crowded the booths. The abundant publicity certainly helped this fair get a good turn out. The booth was busy with activity, some people buying and some not — but, hey, when your booth is one of 200, you accept the fact that not everyone who visits it will buy a book. I met some new customers, some librarians, some booksellers, and some book collectors, I sold some books. All was good, and then the fair closed 9:00 p.m. It was an exhausting 12-hour day, but not so exhausting that I couldn’t enjoy a delicious dinner with some colleagues afterward.

Here are photos of a few other booksellers’ booths:

Brad and Jennifer Johnson of The Book Shop. Young Mr. Koch of Books Tell You Why is also in the photo:

B & B Rare Books

My mentor, the distinguished Mr. Z of Tavistock Books:

One of my across the aisle neighbors was William Reese Company and right next door to them was Australia’s Hordern House. Even though I had every intention of introducing myself to my neighbors, I had a terrible attack of shyness and fear of booksellers-whose-books-cannot-be-matched-by-anyone-else and barely said anything to them all weekend. (Why must I be so socially awkward? I really wasn’t trying to be snobbish, but for a book nerd, meeting such a bookseller is like meeting a rock star. I get tongue-tied and nervous. I tend to forget they’re just people hoping to have a good fair, too.) Truly, I was honored and awed to be in such esteemed company.  You want great books? These two firms have better-than-great books! And I have to add a special thank you to Teri Osborn of William Reese Company, who, when my booth was too busy for me to leave, brought me a sandwich to eat during her own lunch break. Twice! Thanks, Teri!  Nick Aretakis, who also works for William Reese Co. and who I knew via email but had never met in person, bravely took the walk across the aisle to my booth to say hello and wish me a good fair.  And Derek and Anthony from Hordern House cheerfully said hello and introduced themselves during the course of the weekend.

I wasn’t the only rookie at the fair.  The Book Hunter’s Holiday booth was right next door to the booths of two other ABAA rookies, Howard Prouty of ReadInk Books and John Howell of John Howell for Books. It was such a relief not to be the only brand new bookseller at the fair and a real comfort to know that the other new guys were in the two booths next to mine. Most appreciated was the occasional help over the weekend of Howard and John’s assistants, Gayle, Beth, and Merle. We referred to ourselves as Rookies’ Row.

Left to right: Howard Prouty, John Howell, and me.

Too often I hear booksellers say that we’re not in the Golden Age of bookselling any more. Perhaps we’re not. I wasn’t a bookseller during the so-called Golden Age. I wasn’t even alive during the Golden Age, although I’ve read about and it sounds like it was a good time. All I know is that my days at this particular fair were Glory Days. I sold some books – not all of them, but enough of them. I bought some books — not all I wanted, but enough of them. I met lots of new book collectors, librarians, and booksellers. I even met a couple of videographers (more on that tomorrow). I dined with friends and colleagues every night. I heard lots of antiquarian bookselling legend and lore. Last weekend, in the supposed sunset of the printed book, in an era dominated by digital technology, in the sleepy town of Pasadena, just outside of Los Angeles, hundreds of booksellers and thousands of bibliophiles came together from all over the world to celebrate the printed word.  I can’t imagine anything more golden than that.

A few more photos to wrap it all up tomorrow!

Adding this last song from my book fair playlist. Bruce Springsteen and Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem (the past and the future of Rock performing together) singing “No Surrender”. This song’s for all you booksellers out there who think the era of printed books is over:

We busted out of class had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school
Tonight I hear the neighborhood drummer sound
I can feel my heart begin to pound
You say you’re tired and you just want to close your eyes and follow your dreams down

We made a promise we swore we’d always remember
No retreat no surrender
Like soldiers in the winter’s night with a vow to defend
No retreat no surrender

Now young faces grow sad and old and hearts of fire grow cold
We swore blood brothers against the wind
I’m ready to grow young again
And hear your sister’s voice calling us home across the open yards
Well maybe we could cut someplace of our own
With these drums and these guitars

Blood brothers in the stormy night with a vow to defend
No retreat no surrender

Now on the street tonight the lights grow dim
The walls of my room are closing in
There’s a war outside still raging
you say it ain’t ours anymore to win
I want to sleep beneath peaceful skies in my lover’s bed
with a wide open country in my eyes
and these romantic dreams in my head

Blood brothers in the stormy night with a vow to defend
No retreat no surrender”


Filed under A Bookseller's Education, Book Fairs

Chapter 701 Part 1 of The 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair 2012, Or, It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock n’ Roll

There’s an American slang term for major league baseball — The Show — that’s “The Show” with an upper case “T” and an upper case “S”.  Being in The Show means playing ball in the big leagues, among the professional players.  Before leaving for last weekend’s 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair, one of the three largest book fairs in the United States sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA), I felt a lot like a rookie player who was going to The Show. This was my chance, at long last, to check out the Big League of bookselling from the seller’s side of the booth.

Like a typical rookie, I had little idea of what to expect.  I was excited. I was supremely happy to be going to The Show, having finally reached a goal I set for myself five years ago. I had wishful and wild delusions (fantasies — not actual expectations) of selling my entire booth of books. (This fantasy is based on a bit of antiquarian bookselling lore that I heard actually happened to another bookseller at an ABAA fair a couple of decades ago.) I was also nervous. Ok. Terrified. I was scared my books would pale in comparison to those of the other booksellers. I worried that my books might not sell at all. And with a few big bills looming in my immediate future, the thought of no sales haunted me like a specter. In short, I was a typical rookie mixture of awe, hope, fear, and wanting to prove that Book Hunter’s Holiday was worthy of being at The Show.

Like a long, nine-inning baseball game, survival of the book fair itself would require pacing. Following immediately on the heels of the previous weekend’s San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print, and Paper Fair (three days), the ABAA fair in Pasadena, California required one full day of travel, one and a half days of set-up, three days of book fair, one morning seminar, several evening receptions, dinners, and post-dinner drinks, and one full day of driving home. The pace would only be complicated by several disastrous happenings at home just before the fairs began. Frazzled, tired, and unprepared due to domestic disasters was not at all how I envisioned going to The Show, after nearly five years waiting to be eligible to participate. By time I left my house for Pasadena last Tuesday, I was a jumble of nerves and exhaustion.

I knew that I needed to focus on books, to turn off the negative thoughts and worries colliding in my mind. So I decided to do something with which many athletes and runners are familiar. I made a special playlist of music to help me focus on The Show. This sort of playlist can be any sort of music that you like, but it must be music that makes you feel good. It must be music that inspires you in some way. I was a kid and a teenager in the 1970s and 1980s, so I like all the Classic Rock, Heavy Metal, New Wave, Ska, and Punk music from that era. I also like Classical music and Country music.  (Remember: “I am large. I contain multitudes.” — Walt Whitman)  To top it off, Tom and Huck, as a bit of a farewell gesture and an effort to get their old Mom to be aware of current musical trends, helped me assemble a playlist of what they call “Decent Music from the 21st Century”.  I had all sorts of songs from which to choose on the long drive to Pasadena.

As I began my journey to The Show, I knew I needed to hear a song that is fantastic, bombastic, and dramatic, a song that contains both truth and ridiculousness; frankly, I needed a song that would keep me awake on the 6+ hour drive.  I chose a song by Australian band AC/DC, a 1974 hit whose title metaphorically sums up my journey in antiquarian bookselling to date:  “It’s a Long Way to the Top If You Wanna Rock n’ Roll”. (Really, you can never go wrong with the combination of electric guitar and bagpipe solo. It never fails to uplift.) 🙂

Part 2  of the fair report to follow tomorrow! See you in the stacks! Meanwhile, video and lyrics of my personal bookselling theme song for the fair are below. If you don’t want to watch or hear it all, watch at least 1:30-2:45 for the insanely great combination of bagpipes and electric guitars.

Ridin’ down the highway
Goin’ to a show
Stop in all the by-ways

Playin’ rock n’ roll
Gettin’ robbed
Gettin’ stoned
Gettin’ beat up, broken boned
Gettin’ had
Gettin’ took
I tell you folks
It’s harder than it looks

It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
If you think it’s easy doin’ one night stands
Try playin’ in a rock roll band
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll

Hotel, motel
Make you wanna cry
Lady do the hard sell
Know the reason why
Gettin’ old
Gettin’ grey
Gettin’ ripped off
Gettin’ sold
Second hand
That’s how it goes
Playin’ in a band

It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
If you wanna be a star on stage and screen
Look out it’s rough and mean
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll


Filed under A Bookseller's Education, Book Fairs

Chapter 698 Pep Talk To Myself On The Occasion Of My First ABAA Fair, Or, Rudy Revisited, Or, “I’ve been ready for this my whole life!”

I probably won’t do much blogging from Pasadena, so the blog will be silent for about a week until I return home. I’m really thrilled to sell books at my first ABAA Fair (and terrified — what if no one buys any of my books?!) At one of the earliest book fairs I did, in San Francisco in 2007, I compared my being able to participate in the book fair to Rudy Ruettiger’s ability to be part of the awesome, totally awesome Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team.  Though I’m  not really an avid fan of American football and I know that lots of people (not me) think the movie “Rudy” is a bit corny, I notice lots of ways in which football is comparable to my experience in antiquarian bookselling. (Perhaps a topic for a future post?)

When I started my bookselling business in 2007, a few people (very few, but unfortunately I have a long memory), some of whom were booksellers and some not, told me that I shouldn’t hope to become a successful antiquarian bookseller or to join the ABAA.  Too late to join an industry that some view as a dinosaur on the verge of extinction. Too old to be starting in a business that takes years if not decades to learn. Too busy with family obligations to accomplish or contribute much. Some of what was said to me proved true; some has not. It’s five years later and, thanks to the support and encouragement of many others and to my own stubbornness, I’m still here buying and selling books and loving every minute of it. I’m not a major player, a quarterback of antiquarian bookselling. I don’t call the plays, and I sometimes fumble and have a bad book fair with lower than expected sales.  I’m not particularly well known as a bookseller by those outside of this geographic area, and my books are not necessarily the rarest in the room at a book fair, but I made the team and I’m making progress each  year. Good enough for me. Thanks for coming along for the ride with me!

So, am I ready for my first ABAA book fair?

“I’ve been ready for this my whole life!”

(If you don’t have time to watch this three minute video clip, I suggest watching from 1:49 to 2:05. You’ll understand why I chose the title I did for this post.)

Whatever happens at my first ABAA fair, whether anyone buys my books or not, I’ll remember getting to this point for the rest of my life.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

Will I ever be carried out of a book fair exhibition hall hoisted on the shoulders of my fellow booksellers? I don’t know and I don’t care.

I’m just thrilled to be a player in the game.

See you at the fair!


Filed under A Bookseller's Education, Book Fairs, Uncategorized

Chapter 677 You Might Be A Bibliophile If . . .

I’m busy unpacking and doing laundry from our Thanksgiving visit to the home Thoughtful Husband’s sister and I’m beginning to try to clean make my house look festive for the Christmas season, but I still want to make the effort to post something and to ease back into a regular blogging routine. Courtesy of my colleague, Ian Kahn, here is a list of 75 (pretty hilarious) signs you’re a bibliophile. Most, if not all, of the signs apply to me.  And perhaps you? Click here to see.

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Chapter 676 Thankful

I know I haven’t blogged in two months, but I couldn’t let Thanksgiving pass without the annual writing down of a few of the things for which I am thankful this year. Here they are, in no particular order:

1) I am extremely grateful to have reached a goal I set for myself back when I read A Gentle Madness, by Nicholas Basbanes, back in 2003 or 2004.  It was there that I first read about antiquarian books, book collecting, and those quirky folks known as antiquarian booksellers. It was also there that I first read of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) and thought, “I wonder if I could ever learn enough to be good enough to be a part of that.”  I am so thankful that, as of July, 2011 I am a happy member of the ABAA and ILAB (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers).

2)  I am  thankful that there are wonderful writers like Nicholas Basbanes who are willing to take the time to write accounts of niche fields like antiquarian books.

3) I am so thankful for the family who has supported me in my bookselling endeavor — from parents and a mother-in-law who have been willing to babysit or drive carpool at the last minute to a husband who pretends he doesn’t mind the growing piles of books that continue to multiply in our house to kids who think that living around rare books is like living in an interactive history lesson.

4) I am thankful for customers — the bookbuying public, without whom we booksellers wouldn’t survive. Worse, without whom we wouldn’t have anyone as enthusiastic about old books as we are.  

5) I am thankful for good bookselling friends, especially those who were willing to be my sponsors and references for ABAA membership and especially those who have cheered me on in good times and encouraged me when I doubted myself.

6) I am thankful for the books that came my way this year. I bought fewer, but in my opinion better, books this year. Come book fair time, I hope it makes all the difference.

7) I am thankful for the opportunity to participate in so many book fairs. In 2011, I did the Sacramento fair (in September and again in March), the Pasadena fair, and the Seattle fair. In February, 2012, I am looking forward to selling books at the San Francisco fair and the Pasadena fair. (The Pasadena fair will be my first ABAA show. I am extra thankful to be able to participate in that fair.)

8) I am grateful for the chance to write this blog, even when I stumble at it, and for the chance to be a contributor to the IOBA Standard and an occasional contributor to the Fine Books & Collections blog.

9) I am grateful for each and every one of you who stops in to read this blog, whether it is regularly or occasionally or only once. Thanks.

10) I am grateful for the gift of my health and my life.

11) I am grateful that we made our annual journey with the kids and the dog and with the senior relatives who can no longer drive to the home of my sister-in-law and her family. This year, my amazing cook of a brother-in-law is making Turducken. If you don’t know what it is, Google it. The short story is that it is a chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey. Strange? Most certainly. But it’s certainly something out of the ordinary and it seems to have brought various relatives around the table to see what it’s all about. For that, I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving! See you in the stacks!


Filed under A Bookseller's Education, A Family Business