Category Archives: A Family Business

Chapter 722 Don’t Call It A Comeback, Or, The Bookseller Returns


Bookmark courtesy of my friends at The Book Shop in Covina, California.

For several months now, I’ve been trying to return to regular posting on the blog and every time I do, it seems my time for writing is thwarted by other circumstances. I’m back. Again. For now. Don’t call it a comeback, because posting may not last and it definitely won’t be daily, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

Where have I been the past few months?

Are you ready for this?

I’ve expanded my bibliophilic duties to include along with bookselling another job I used to do long ago and really enjoyed. That’s right, I’ve been working at a local high school since last April.

And I’ve been tutoring some visiting students from China in English since the fall semester began.

As of last week, I began teaching freshmen and sophomore English — five classes of about 30 students apiece.


There are various reasons, many of which are interesting only to me.  One of the reasons that is worth mentioning to the book-loving readers of this blog is that if there is to be a next generation of book collectors, we who sell books must first encourage a generation of book lovers, of people who understand that reading a printed book is a different experience than reading a back-lit screen.  Many antiquarian booksellers worry about whether the generation coming up — a generation raised on the digital device — will, when they come of age, bother with something as archaic as book collecting.  Some even wonder if they’ll bother with something as archaic as book reading. 🙂

Being a mother of two people who are part of the digital generation, I have an especially vested interest in this concern.  I want my own children and my students to know the satisfaction of reading well-chosen words. 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.





But so antiquarian bookselling seemed to me when I started Book Hunter’s Holiday back in 2007, and I’m still here.

It goes without saying that Book Hunter’s Holiday will keep on bookin’. I’m not closing the business, but you’ll see less of me online than in previous years. I’ll definitely see you at the 46th International Antiquarian Book Fair in San Francisco in February. In the meantime, look for some posts to preview what I’ll be bringing to the fair.

See you in the stacks and in the classroom!


Filed under A Family Business, Getting Started, Uncategorized

Chapter 716 Back to Work, Back to School, Back to Books

If you’re still checking on this blog after the past several months, I am amazed. And if you’re still there, yes, I am still here. The blog and I have been silent for months for a variety of reasons, most of which are not compelling to anyone but me. To all who have emailed or called or asked in person, thank you. I very much appreciate all who noticed my absence and took the time to check in with me. And even if you didn’t notice my “radio silence” until you read this very post, thanks for reading right now. I am happy to report that I am fine, that my family is fine, and that Book Hunter’s Holiday is still here. There are a few new things to report about Book Hunter’s Holiday, and I’ll elaborate on that next time I post, which will likely be after this coming weekend’s Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair.

(Poster above is a 1940 Works Progress Administration poster. I saw it recently on a bookish website, but I am sorry to say I can’t recall which one. In any case, thanks to the person who first posted it.)

See you in the stacks!


Filed under A Family Business, Book Fairs, Organization, Uncategorized

Chapter 714 Why I Haven’t Written Lately

Happy to say that Phase One of the new roof is complete. The old roof was removed and the new roof is now on. Next up is an electrical inspection in the attic and then new insulation. Did I mention that my kids are home from school this week (Easter Break), too? And another new opportunity, about which I will write some other time, has popped up, too.  Not much book work going on these days, but I promise I’ll be back just as soon as I can.

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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 708 “We May Live Without Friends, We May Live Without Books” . . . I Hope I Never Have To

I had a house call this weekend, and purchased a few new books which, if you can make it, you will see at the upcoming Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair, to be held March 24. On the cover of one of the books, a cook book, is the following verse:

While I agree that “civilized man cannot live without cooks,” I’m not so sure I like the part that says, “We may live without friends, we may live without books . . .”  I suppose we may live without those things, but I sure hope I never have to.

We’re busy around here this week managing one sick child, school, several basketball practices, and one Championship basketball game on Thursday night! Keep your fingers crossed that Tom will feel better in time for his game and that, having won two playoff games over the weekend, they win their big game Thursday night. Also, let’s hope that Huck stays healthy so I don’t have to deal with two sick kids at once. 🙂

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 692 Fun While It Lasted

If you follow American football, then you already know — my hometown team, the San Francisco 49ers, lost to the New York Giants today. They will not be going to the Superbowl this year. Sad. Still, it was an exciting first season for the 49ers new coach, Jim Harbaugh. There was actually a whiff of the magical “dynasty” years of the 1980s, the decade when the 49ers, led by Coach Bill Walsh, won many Superbowl games. I actually look forward to next season.

I must say that I’m relieved about one thing. Had the 49ers won today, they would be playing in the Superbowl game on Sunday, February 5.

So what, you ask?

Well, Feburary 5 is the last day of the San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print, and Paper Fair. Had the 49ers been in the Superbowl on February 5, all of San Francisco, fervent football fans or no, would have skipped the book fair to watch the game. While I know that the worlds of book collectors and football fans rarely intersect, all Bay Area citizens, even those like me who don’t follow football, would have been home watching their home team play in the big game. Now that two East Coast teams are in the Superbowl (New England Patriots vs. New York Giants), most San Franciscans won’t give a hoot. Maybe they could give the book fair a try?

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 684 My Favorite Christmas Gift — A Clean House, Or, Enjoy It While It Lasts

Well here it is, the night before Christmas Eve. It’s been quiet on the blog this week because I’ve been cooking and cleaning and baking and wrapping gifts and just having fun with family and friends. And selling a few books. And working on a special project for the February book fairs. I’m enjoying everything, but being the introvert that I truly am, I crave more time to read and to write for the blog.

We’re hosting dinner for 10 at our house tomorrow night, and I’ve made ahead as much of the food as I can. Tom and Huck, who have been off of school all week, were recruited today to help clean the house. Despite not being thrilled to do chores during Christmas vacation, they did a fantastic job. In fact, I think that the clean house they left me is the best Christmas present they can give me. It was at my behest that they did these tasks, but they did a good job, and spent most of the day making our house look nice. Having company for dinner is good motivation to really clean the house well.  The boys washed windows — inside and out,  cleaned baseboards, helped change sheets on beds, cleaned the bathrooms, and cleaned up the dumping ground room we affectionately call the Play Room. I’ve been trying to figure out where to put all of the books that are usually all over the dining room table and another table that is usually where the Christmas tree is now baking batches of fudge, toffee, and cookies and am almost finished. Dinner is prepped for tomorrow night’s feast and presents are wrapped and under the tree. Here are a few pictures of the tree and the living room (probably the cleanest I shall ever see it). Note the absence of antiquarian books in the photo. This cleanliness and lack of book clutter surely will not last more than 24 hours, so enjoy it while it lasts.

And here are some of my favorite book-related Christmas ornaments. (Yeah, that’s right. I have book-themed Christmas ornaments. Just a few.) 😉

This is a lovely printer’s device that was made into an ornament by the very talented and crafty Jennifer Johnson at The Book Shop in Covina, California.

I made my mom buy me this ornament a few years ago. She thought it was ugly (I do, too), but I laughed when I read it and had to have it:

My mom bought me this ornament in 2007, the year I started Book Hunter’s Holiday. I’ve written about it once before:

I got this ornament when I went to Rare Book School at University of Virginia. I took a short field trip to Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. Since I am a big fan of Thomas Jefferson, Rare Book School, and blue and white china plates, it seemed like the perfect souvenir of my trip. (That’s Jefferson’s home pictured on the plate.)

I got this ornament at the Surveyor’s House (aka one of the many childhood homes of my favorite author, Laura Ingalls Wilder) when I visited De Smet, South Dakota on an RV trip across country with my family.  This particular house is featured in Wilder’s book, By the Shores of Silver Lake.

And last but not least is this little memento of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. I got it during this year’s Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading the blog. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, know that I am thinking of you and am thankful for you this holiday season. You’re part of what makes bookselling such fun!


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Chapter 683 Our Houseguest

I’ve been doing a combination of bookish and domestic type things this week. When I get a chance to divide time pretty evenly between books and home, that’s the best kind of week there is. First, I worked on a project for the upcoming book fairs in San Francisco and Pasadena in February. (More on that at another time.) Next, I went to the annual Holiday Party and Quarterly Meeting of the Northern California Chapter of the ABAA (Antiquarian Booksellers Association). When I entered the party, I was the newest member of the Northern California Chapter, having joined the organization a few months ago, in July. When I left the party, I had somehow agreed to be Chapter Secretary! I was a little nervous about what this might require, but I’ve been told this mostly involves taking and distributing minutes at quarterly meetings, so it seems to be a good opportunity to learn more about our Northern California Chapter.

And on the domestic front, I’m trying to get prepared for Christmas. One of my brothers and his family are visiting us the week before Christmas and on Christmas Eve, and my other brother and his family are visiting us after Christmas and during New Year’s. We’re also hosting a group at our home on Christmas Eve. In anticipation of a full schedule, I have been busy cooking ahead and freezing a few things for the next week. I cooked four lasagnas (if you’re going to go to the trouble to make one, you may as well quadruple the recipe and have a few extra dinners ready to go during the busy basketball season in January). I also prepared and froze our traditional Christmas morning breakfast casserole. It’s made of eggs, cheese, bread, sausage, onions, mushrooms, and butter — so bad for you it is delicious and definitely indulgent enough for holiday dining. That way I can enjoy Christmas morning. I just have to defrost the casserole the night before and then pop it in the oven when we are enjoying the morning. I then made a couple loaves of Applesauce Cinnamon Bread and froze those for quick snacks for the boys, their visiting cousins, or anyone else who drops by.

As a busy mom who is trying to run her own book business, I find great comfort in having a few extra meals in the freezer for busy times. Each week, I am trying to find a recipe that I know will freeze well, that is, that I know will still taste good when I finally decide to defrost and cook it. I then double the recipe for at least one dinner. We eat one dinner that night and put the extra dinner in the freezer for future busy nights or other emergencies. It’s my goal to get up to 11 meals in my freezer so that I have a variety of things from which to choose. This seemed like a chore at first, but if I make a fresh pot of tea and play music I like while I do it, it’s actually not so bad. I almost enjoy it. And then there’s the feeling I get a few weeks later, when I have a homemade, ready-made meal in the freezer to defrost and cook on a busy evening —  I am always so relieved and glad I took the time to do it. If we are going to survive four evenings per week basketball practice (between Tom and Huck, who are on separate teams, each team practices twice a week), then I will be doing myself a favor to have dinner already planned once in a while.

On the agenda for this weekend is to bake some fudge, candied walnuts, and my grandmother’s Christmas cookies.

I don’t mean to bore you bookish types with all of my kitchen goings-on. It’s just that some of my friends who also work and have children and I are always discussing ways to streamline things we need to do around the home — like making dinner every night. This part of the post is for them.

And, last but not least, we have a houseguest for the weekend:

Meet Watson! He’s our friend’s dog and we’re taking care of him while she’s away for a few days. He’s a sweet, three month old Bernese (or is it Burmese?) Mountain Dog. He has become fast friends with Huck:

Our little spaniel, Molly, however, isn’t quite sure what to make of this new arrival:
All for now! Tom and Huck just finished up school for the next couple of weeks, so we’re looking forward to having the leisure to get in the Christmas spirit!

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 682 Thank Goodness The Weekend Is Here

Both Tom and Huck are playing on basketball teams from now until the end of February.  It’s lots of fun, but, combined with their other activities (Boy Scouts and guitar for Tom, Cub Scouts and bass guitar for Huck), it makes for hectic afternoons. Here is a sample schedule from one day last week:

3:00 p.m. Pick up boys at school, which is not in walking distance of our home, unfortunately. Return home for quick snack and change of clothes for boys.

4:00 p.m. Take Tom to guitar, here in our hometown.

4:30 p.m. Take Huck to basketball practice — two towns away because our school gym is too small to accommodate the teams from every grade, so we rent gym space where we can find it.

5:00 p.m. Return to our town to pick up Tom from guitar.

5:30 p.m. Drive back to Huck’s basketball practice to pick him up.

6:00 p.m. Drive home on Highway 101 during notorious Silicon Valley rush hour traffic. (This is the part I really can’t stand.)

6:40 p.m. Home. Time to make dinner and make sure boys do homework. Did I mention that Huck has a book report due tomorrow?

Despite what the crazy schedule above may indicate, I try not to overschedule the boys (or myself, for that matter). I believe that some of the best learning and growth for kids happens when they have free time. I also believe that if they want to participate in these activities, it’s my job to help them do that, within reasonable limits. I limit them to one sport each per season (i.e. no playing basketball and baseball during the same season). Each takes music lessons, but only once a week for an hour. Each is involved in Scouts, but that’s only once every other week. Each kid participates in activities of his own choosing (meaning that I do not force them to play sports or music or to be Scouts — they’ve chosen these things). Even though we try make rational decisions about what activities the kids participate in, every couple of weeks, all of these activities converge during the same week and sometimes the same day. By the end of a week where everything seems to be happening at once,  I am very grateful for the weekend (except when the basketball game starts at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.)

This past week was one such extra busy week when activities converged. I was so glad when Friday came and I had some time to sit down and think about books for a couple of hours while the boys were at school. I decided that, in order to really savor the moment of time I had to just be at home, I would make it extra special. Maybe it’s just me, but when I take time to be present to the things that really matter (home life and books), I enjoy it more and don’t get driven crazy by the busy family schedule. With basketball season here, I have to fit in these moments whenever I can. It keeps me calm and energized.  Here are a few photos of my Friday bliss:

Comfort and Joy Tea from one of my book-themed teapots and my Rare Book School mug. Maple Oatmeal scone served on a piece from a Wedgwood Queensware dessert set I found at an estate sale in September:

New acquisitions and bookseller catalogues that arrived in the mail this week, waiting to be opened:

Books. Catalogues. Tea. Scones. Perfect. TGIF! (Thank God It’s Friday!)

See you in the stacks!

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Filed under A Family Business, Book Finds, Catalogues, Organization

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