Category Archives: Book Related Products

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!

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Chapter 705 Book Fair Hangovers, My Assistant, and Book Themed Teapots

It’s Saturday. I still have what I like to call “Book Fair Hangover”. Book Fair Hangover does not refer to drunkenness; it refers instead to putting things right after returning home from a book fair. Almost two weeks later, and I still have yet to unpack any of the boxes of books. I also still have to enter the invoices I wrote at both the San Francisco and Los Angeles fairs in my computer. Mostly, I spent the last two weeks shipping some books, writing about the fairs, catching up on emails (853 in a 10 day period, business and personal) and voice mails (22 non-urgent phone calls needing to be returned), replenishing the groceries, and doing laundry in my new washing machine. The old one was beyond repair and TH had it replaced while I was away at the book fairs.

After living without a washing machine in the week before the fairs began, I have never been so thankful to have a working washing machine. I could not make time to do anything bookish without it.  I have christened it My Assistant. When I refer to My Assistant, people assume that  I am referring to an employee, perhaps a cataloguer or book scout of some sort. No, not for me the run-of-the-mill assistant. My Assistant lives out in my garage, far away from the books. She can’t even read or write and it’s useless to try to teach her about antiquarian books, but she has three temperatures and a spin cycle and she gets our clothes sparkling clean in a jiffy.

Sprinkled in between all of the above were Tom and Huck’s basketball playoffs and their corresponding practices, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and guitar lessons. These require lots of driving after school on my part. Remember all those meals I cooked in advance and froze for future busy nights? We’ve eaten all them as I tried to get caught up.  They have been my saving grace since returning home from the fairs. It has been my pleasure not to have to answer the question, “What’s for dinner tonight?” as I sifted through messages and plotted blog posts. I now need to cook more of them and replenish my supply.

February has been a whirlwind — how is it that we are already at the last week of the month? Since it is the weekend, I am going to make my menu plan for the week and go grocery shopping. After that, I’m giving myself permission to take a break with a recent acquisition while My Assistant toils in the garage. The recent acquisition — my latest book-themed teapot. I love this one — it’s a bookshop!

And these. These have been waiting for me to read since early February.

I’ve been waiting for this day to arrive, the day where I sit with a hot pot of tea in a bookish teapot and perform my book nerd ritual of reading all the bookish journals for almost as long as I waited for the book fairs.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 679 Tin Tin and Edgar Allan Poe Go To The Movies On A War Horse

 “Why should people pay good money to go out and see bad films when they can stay home and see bad television for nothing?”  Samuel Goldwyn

I don’t go out to see movies very often. Once upon a time, in the long ago days before I had children and before I understood how rare a truly well-told story is, I went to the movies almost once a week!  The only trouble is that most movies just didn’t tell stories as well as the books I read, and, gradually, I lost interest. That said, I did enjoy last year’s book-into-film portrayal of Charles Portis’s True Grit. As with a well-written book, well-written films are few and far between.  I now save my free time only for movies I really think I’ll enjoy. As you may have guessed from my bookish background, I like to see books that are developed into films. Too often, though, the adaptations don’t translate well to film. I recently learned about three “literary” films, based on books or authors that are coming soon to a theater near you. The trailers are interesting, but we’ll reserve judgment as to what the actual films are like when they are released.

The first is an adaptation of Herge’s Tin Tin books. The books themselves are great fun.  Written in a colorful, comic book style and depicting the adventures of a young reporter turned detective, Herge’s series of books take its readers on adventures all over the world with a very entertaining cast of characters.

I am optimistic about this film, and here’s why:  My own sons, Tom and Huck are, sadly, not (yet) enthusiastic readers. Oh, they can and do read just fine. It’s just that they don’t often seem to enjoy any of the current books written for their age group. I must say, after reading a few of today’s books written for boys age 10-13, I rather agree with the boys that most of them are rubbish. As for the “classics,” one hazard of being the sons of an antiquarian bookseller and former English teacher is that your mother is always shoving the classics down your throat and, while admitting to the superiority of the writing and storytelling, you reject them out of hand because your mom says you should be reading them. There are a few exceptions to this in our house, of course, and one series of books which Tom and Huck have long been ready, willing, and eager to read is the Tin Tin books.  They offer a lot of what young boys might like:  crazy characters, exotic locales, treasure hunting and adventure, and lots and lots of illustration.

I was pleased and excited to find out that Steven Spielberg (who seems to take great joy in directing adventure films — Raiders of the Lost Ark)  and Peter Jackson (who did a pretty good adaptation of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings a few years ago) are teaming up to produce this animated feature and to introduce Tin Tin to a new generation. I have my doubts about books being adapted into films, but if anyone could do justice to Tin Tin, it’s these two.  Here’s the trailer:

Spielberg also has a hand in another book-into-film being released at Christmas. War Horse, based on the book of the same title by Michael Morpurgo.

Last but not least comes The Raven, featuring none other than John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe.  I enjoy John Cusack as an actor, but I can’t really imagine him as Edgar Allan Poe. We’ll see how the final film is.

In any case, it’s nice to see Hollywood paying an extra bit of attention to books these days. Books provide the best content, hands down!

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 671 Bookseller Tickets

Look what I found in the back of some books I am cataloguing: bookseller tickets — and all of them from San Francisco!

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Chapter 617 New Book Club for Women. Attendance is Mandatory and Excuses Unacceptable.

New book club for women? Well. Not really. This was the cover of the funny Valentine’s Day card I received from Thoughtful Husband. I absolutely could not accomplish any of the few things I do manage to accomplish (like going to back-to-back book fairs) without his constant encouragement and willingness to manage things here at home when I am away. Thanks, Valentine!

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Chapter 576 Big Weekend Plans

I have big plans this weekend.

Big.

Thoughtful Husband is taking Huck on a Cub Scout father-son camping trip and Tom is going to an all-day birthday party on Saturday.

Am I going out?

No.

Am I going to stay home and catch up on things like laundry, meal planning, and closet-cleaning?

No.

Will I be working hard to sell books?

Maybe. Probably not. But I will be doing book-related “work”. You see, something’s been waiting quietly for my time and undivided attention all week.

You will instantly guess what I plan on doing when you see what arrived in the mail this week:

That’s right. It’s time for the ultimate book nerd ritual — reading Fine Books & Collections Magazine from cover to cover while enjoying tea (Earl Grey Imperial — nothing but the best) from a book-shaped teapot (take your pick, below):

I will, of course, be sipping the tea from one (or maybe even all if I make an entire pot of tea) of my book themed mugs:

There may even be chocolate involved.

And, as a bonus, the local historical society is having a big book sale this weekend!

See you after I read my Fine Books & Collections Magazine.

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Chapter 573 “Insults from the Bard on every Card”, Or, Playing Poker with Shakespeare

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you might know that I not only love books, I love book-related items that appear in popular culture.

For example, there was this find in my recent Dante Catalogue:

And some time ago I wrote about Shakespearean Insult Chewing Gum:

Seeing the printed book alluded to in popular culture helps me maintain my faith in and love of printed books.

Last week, I went to San Francisco with my friend Cathy to see this museum exhibit and to eat lunch at the charming Lovejoy’s Tea Room. Lovejoy’s is more than just a tea room. They also sell all kinds of vintage goodies. Amongst the tea cups, old photographs, and vintage embroidered table linens, I found and had to have these:

Created by San Francisco’s very own Prospero Art, the playing cards feature, “clever and cutting insults from the Bard on every card”. The art featured on the cards are watercolored pen and ink drawings by Jan Padover, and are inspired by some of the masters of art history. Here are just a few (click on the image below to enlarge):

Prospero Art also features another set of Shakespearean playing cards, Shakespearean greeting cards, and what look to be a very cute set of Alice in Wonderland playing cards:

I and few other booksellers I know have discussed on several occasions putting together a little bookseller poker game after a book fair, but, for various reasons, it has never materialized. Maybe it will at the San Francisco ABAA fair in February. I think we may have found the perfect cards for our game.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 572 Vintage Comic Novelty Dustjackets Have Sold

I just want to say thanks and to let some customers who have asked know that all seven of the vintage comic novelty dustjackets I wrote about last week have sold. Thanks, too, to BOOKTRYST, for helping to bring them to people’s attention.

I’ll be back with a new post tomorrow involving Shakespeare, insults, and a deck of cards.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 571 Vintage Comic Novelty Dustjackets, Or, How to Win Friends and Influence People

During the summer, when I was hunting for books at estate sales with Huck, I came across seven dustjackets. Normally, I wouldn’t be interested in dustjackets without books, but, as you can see by the titles in the two images above, these dustjackets were — ahem — different.

In 1959, Reginald S. Leister and Roger Crawford created and designed a series of ridiculous and amusing dustjackets in order “to provide thousands of Americans with the opportunity to amaze and amuse their friends and party guests with a new and different form of subtle humor.” It was hoped that a person would put the comic dustjackets on regular books and display them in rather conspicuous places.

According to Leister, some of the conspicuous uses of such dustjackets could include, high school and college students who want a “never-ending source of fun for fooling members of the faculty”.

Further, “Persons desirous of attracting attention or of making new friends and influencing people under rather unusual conditions will discover these book jackets are truly the answer to their problem, especially if displayed while commuting on the bus or trolley; when traveling by plane or train; when lying on the beach; while waiting for a friend on a street corner, or in a hotel lobby; or when dining alone in a strange restaurant.”

He goes on to encourage traveling salesmen to use the dustjackets on books “as a stimulant to lagging conversation with a buyer or as a means of breaking the ice with a tough purchasing agent, especially if the book is casually laid on the prospect’s desk and then simply wait until his curiosity at seeing such a book can contain itself no longer.”

Leister encouraged his customers to send him ideas for more comic book jacket ideas: “We can’t guarantee that they will be used, nor that you will receive any financial reward, but at least you will have had the satisfaction of knowing that you may have contributed in some small way to keeping your fellow Americans smiling.”

Leister Game Company was founded by Reginald S. Leister in the basement of his home in Toledo, Ohio in 1933. Now in business for over 75 years, the company continues to specialize in novelty gags and gifts as well as party games and books.

Each dust jacket:

Toledo, Ohio: Leister Game Co., Inc., 1959. 8 1/2″ x 21″. Color printed dustjacket complete with illustrated front cover, “author” photo and “publicity endorsements” on the back cover. Designed by Roger Crawford. Photography by Emily A. Leister (née Worcester), Reginald’s wife.

If you’d like to see all of the dustjackets in the series, they are featured today in a post at the always interesting BOOKTRYST by bookman extraordinaire, Stephen J. Gertz. The dustjackets will make you laugh — I promise. The copy written on the rear panel of each dustjacket is visible there, complete with “author” photograph. If you’d like to purchase one of the dustjackets featured in the post at BOOKTRYST, they are for sale at my website for $25 each.

UPDATE: All of the dustjackets have now sold. Thanks!

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Chapter 561 Tacky But Apropos for an Antiquarian Bookseller

This story begins with Huck, but I promise you it is indeed book-related.

Huck and I went out to another estate sale today. I have to say that I really enjoy watching my nine-year-old son, whose spending threshold is about $2 per item, choose objects he thinks he is going to resell at a garage sale at the end of summer.

Let’s just say that his picks are not what I would pick. But then again, I’m not a nine-year-old boy. And I’m only shopping for books, of which I haven’t found many at the sales we visited this past week.

Here are a few of Huck’s finds from the past week: an old matchbook from Andersen Pea Soup; a pencil case that also acts as a ruler, pencil sharpener, and multiplication table; a giant paperclip; and a miniature toolbox. Total cost for all these things: $3.75.

He plans to give the miniature toolbox to his dad, Thoughtful Husband, for Thoughtful Husband’s birthday, which is coming up soon. Look what’s inside the miniature toolbox: lots and lots of real, miniature screwdrivers! At just $1, that toolbox was a good find for Huck.

Perhaps the acquisition I really couldn’t understand, though, was this:

It’s at the opposite end of the spectrum from the miniature toolbox with miniature screwdrivers. It’s a three-foot long, extremely heavy, cast iron (I think it may be iron?) wrench made for hanging on a wall. An actual wrench is placed next to the big wrench in the picture above to show scale.

Huck fell in love with it immediately. He says if he can’t sell it at the garage sale, he’ll hang it on the wall of his and Tom’s bedroom.

What?! Someone — please. Come by at the end of the summer and buy it so I don’t have to look at it hanging in my house. Please.

Again, the giant wrench and the miniature toolbox are not what I would have picked, but then again, I’m not a nine-year-old boy. Huck knows what I’m interested in finding at estate sales: books. He looks for books for me, too.

Today, he was wandering about the sale and found me staring at a bookcase full of books that are not worth the paper on which they’re printed. I was discouraged. I hate making the time and effort to look for good books and coming home empty-handed. Again.

“Mom! You have to come with me. Right now! I found the perfect thing for you, but I didn’t pick it up since you said not to touch anything fragile. Come right now! You HAVE to get this!”

I had no good reason to trust the judgment of someone who thinks a three-foot-long cast iron wrench is a must-have, but I love Huck’s enthusiasm, so I followed along.

Huck was right. I HAD to have this item. Here it is:

Wondering what this is? It looks like a bunch of old books arranged in a semi-circle.

But look at the back of it:

That’s right. It’s a lamp — a lamp! — with a ceramic base and old leather book spines glued around it. The picture above shows where a lightbulb would go and the electric plug.

I liked the lamp, even though I have no idea where I’m going to put it. The detail that finally made me decide to buy it was the title on one of the book spines that make up the lamp — Dante’s Divine Comedy:

Tacky, yes. But very apropos for an antiquarian bookseller who specializes in Dante, don’t you think?

See you in the stacks!

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