Category Archives: Organization

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!

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Filed under A Family Business, Book Fairs, Organization, 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 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

Keeping a Record

Dear Readers,

I am sure you may have noticed that it has been quite some time (over two months) since I last wrote a post here. I have no good excuse to offer. For what it’s worth, here is the excuse anyway: Life got really busy. It was nothing extraordinary; it was just that the usual litany of things that always make autumn a hectic time hit with a vengeance in September: the start of school, start of sport season (baseball and football for Huck, and now that baseball is finished, basketball), September book fair, October book fair. Added to the usual busy autumn routine this year were several fun events — my first ABAA Northern California Chapter meeting, my first article in the IOBA Standard, my 25 year high school reunion, Thoughtful Husband’s 25 year high school reunion, our oldest nephew’s wedding in Los Angeles, and the need to look at and evaluate various options for Tom for — gulp! — high school next year. I bought and sold a few books in between activities, but being so busy gave me a sort of writer’s block. I’d read other posts on other great bookish blogs (many of them linked to in the right sidebar here) and think, “so-and-so already covered that . . . and more articulately than I could. I won’t bother writing about it.  When I started writing my blog, few other booksellers were blogging. Four years later, there are many others, much more expert than I who are writing about things far better than I ever will.”  Aren’t you glad that, until now, I decided to spare you my pity party? I really deplore self-pity, even in my own self. It’s paralytic.  I will just point out that my spending time in this kind of thinking got me no further ahead. I just stopped writing. And then I got disappointed with myself. If I had spent time thinking this way when I started my business, I would never have stayed in business for nearly five years.

In short, it wasn’t so much the amount of other priorities competing for my time that took away from blogging though that was part of it. It was that I felt I didn’t have the time to write anything worth reading here.  (Another reminder to my self:  don’t waste time making decisions based on feeling. Think. Logically. Then take action.)  Then, recently, I remembered something. I remembered that I started this blog not in order to write something others would read and appreciate (though that’s always nice and a few people have been so kind as to tell me they do read), but as a way of keeping a record for myself — a record of how a stay-at-home-mom started an antiquarian book business and a bit of a record of Tom and Huck growing up. I realized that in deciding not to blog I wasn’t keeping a record — even if it was a record of a being a bookseller who is sometimes (most of the time) too busy to “do it all” the way most booksellers seem to be able to.  (Lord, how I hate that phrase. I think it sets an unattainable standard.  I can’t do it all. I do well when I pick and choose my priorities and stick to them.)  I wasn’t keeping a record of the growing pains of a one-person business and of my children going from being children to being teenagers.  I knew I’d be sorry I hadn’t kept a record of this time later.

Please  let me apologize for abruptly putting a halt to my blogging activities in mid-September.  To those of you who have been regular readers, I am sorry.  It was rude to just quit with no explanation.  I hope you’ll stick with me as I resume, rusty writing skills be damned.

I am happy (if somewhat embarrassed) to say I have decided, at long last, to snap out of my writer’s funk and just start writing again. Whether what I write is worthwhile or not is not for me to judge.  Soon, look for a belated post on October’s Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair (first time I’ve done that show), a post on what it’s like to be the new kid in the ABAA,  and a post on two people whose adventures I have neglected to record on the blog for a long while — Tom and Huck. Somehow, in the almost-five years since I started my business and the four years since I started this blog, my kids have started to grow up and my business has started to grow.   Thanks to those who have read this blog along the way.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Chris

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Chapter 667 Autumn Goals 2011

Listen.

Do you hear that?

That’s the sound of a quiet house, a house where the children have returned to school.

Excuse me for just one minute while I enjoy a cup of tea and a bit of chocolate and a good read in peace and quiet.

I’m done now. Thank you.

I always think that summer is going to be less busy than the school year. And while there is less homework and fewer sports practices, summer is a really just different kind of busy — visits to and from relatives, trips to places we don’t have time to see during the school year, and kids and their friends in and out of the house all day. It’s been a real eye opener to me this summer to see just how much growing boys eat. (Tom is now 13 and Huck will be 11 in a few days.) Other than buying and selling books, joining the ABAA, having a couple of books repaired, and planning for fall book fairs, I didn’t accomplish much with regard to the book business. I mostly kept it status quo.

I thought I would write most of Catalogue #2 this summer, but that just didn’t happen. I usually get upset when I set a lot of goals and fail to meet them, but if I didn’t set the goals in the first place, I’d never make progress on anything. I don’t feel too bad about not writing Catalogue #2.  I still need to make a few more acquisitions to round out the collection.  I’ve also been working on some more immediate sales that will help keep cash flow going while I work on Catalogue #2. Doing so has given me time to think, research, and read about the subject of Catalogue #2, which will help me write it when the time comes.

What are the goals for the September and October, 2011?

1) Catalogue many new acquisitions made during the summer in time for the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair on September 17 and the Seattle Book Fair on October 8 and 9. (If you’d like a free pass to either or both fairs, please let me know by leaving a comment or sending an email to chris @ bookhuntersholiday DOT com.)

2) Print individual descriptions of books for sale on nice cardstock for display at the book fairs.

3) Get new business cards before the fairs. I am thinking of having the cards printed at a new letterpress print shop which recently moved from San Francisco to my hometown of San Mateo.

4) Write, edit, and print multiple copies of a Bulletin, a sort of mini-catalogue/list of a collection of bookish ephemera I’ll be bringing to Seattle. I like to call this type of ephemera biblio-ephemera.

Now that vacation is over and school has started, there’s more to come tomorrow. I had time to read a few great books about books over the summer, and I look forward to telling you about them.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 658 The Privilege of Calling Myself “Antiquarian Bookseller”, Or, Book Hunter’s Holiday, ABAA

I am happy to say that today I reached a goal I set for myself a long time ago, a goal I pursued even though I wasn’t entirely sure I would ever reach it. Today, my application for membership in the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) was approved at the Summer Meeting of the Board of Governors of that organization!

It still doesn’t quite seem real. Today I became a member of the ABAA.

How great!

How terrifying!

I must be dreaming. Someone pinch me. On second thought, don’t. I think I like this dream.

I can’t remember where or from whom I first heard about the ABAA, back in the days when I didn’t know any booksellers personally, I had babies running around the house, and I barely had time to even read about antiquarian books, but upon hearing about this association of booksellers who work hard to promote the trade, who have a Board of Governors (!), a written Code of Ethics, and exclusive book fairs where only their own members can exhibit, I immediately thought, “I probably am too old to learn to be an antiquarian bookseller and even if I could, I’ll never be a good enough bookseller to be part of that group.” 

Are you wondering why I said such a thing? You might recall one of my many longstanding phobias about bookselling — being told by a better bookseller than I that I am not a bookseller.  Recall:

“I may be a new bookseller, but I know enough to know that when I visit the shop of another bookseller I should introduce myself (oh, the horror!) and identify myself as a bookseller. Still, I always find this to be an awkward moment. I’ve no reason to make assumptions, but my insecurity makes me think the owner will tell me I’m not a bookseller (because I sell online) and to leave the shop. I cower in fear of being assailed with all of the ways the brilliant shop owner knows more than I do. This has never actually happened to me, and I realize there is no logical reason why I should think that it will, but I just do.”

What happened between my telling myself I couldn’t do it several years ago and now?  If you’ve been reading this blog, you already know the story, and if you haven’t and you want to know, then you can start here. What happened is that I decided to disregard my phobias and reach out to those around me — to other booksellers and other book collectors for their knowledge, advice, and friendship; to my family for their support in my home-based business endeavor; and to you, the readers of this very blog, who sometimes commented or emailed or introduced yourselves to me at book fairs and reassured me that I was not crazy to try to become an antiquarian bookseller, that I could do it. What also happened was a lot of hard work — learning how to start and run a business; learning the trade as quickly as possible by finding a mentor, reading, talking and corresponding with others; selling books on my website, in printed catalogues, and at book fairs; and going to educational seminars near and far as often as I can.

Does joining the ABAA mean I’m a different bookseller than I was yesterday? No. I think I’ve always done my best to select good books for sale and to conduct my business in a professional and ethical manner and that would continue whether I became an ABAA member or not. What ABAA membership means, among other things, is that I can be and do and learn more by being a contributing member of an organization that is larger than one person working alone in a tiny corner of her dining room in between driving kids in carpools and washing the dishes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this time with regard to my joining the ABAA:

Does this make me a marquee bookseller? I certainly think not. Not even close. What it made me was someone who could be a small part of a larger team. I’ve since made friends with dealers of all kinds and and even occasionally sold books to those marquee sellers, those much higher in the bookseller food chain than myself. You know the ones. They are the quarterbacks who call the plays in the antiquarian book world, and everyone knows who they are and speaks their names with reverence, passing on the legends of some of their best book plays. Even though I’m not (yet) one of these sellers, it’s (usually) a real thrill and honor to sell them a book (or two or three or more).”

No, I am definitely not anywhere near the top of the bookselling food chain.  I do believe, though, that at long last I have earned the privilege of calling myself “antiquarian bookseller” and believing myself when I say it. May I always endeavor to be worthy of the title.

See you in the stacks!

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Filed under A Bookseller's Education, A Family Business, Getting Started, Internet Resources for Booksellers and Book Collectors, Organization, Uncategorized

Chapter 646 There’s Always Something

Remember that blog remodel I began a few weeks ago?  Perhaps you’ll also recall that I asked you to vote on your favorite look for the blog and then I began to tinker even more with the “winning look” and then I went to Seattle, where I was consumed by all the bookshops.  Then I returned home and . . . the blog still sits, halfway remodeled, all of its visual deficiencies here for any passerby to see.

I want to let you know that I have not forgotten the blog remodel and that, well, like the Dante catalogue which took longer than I planned (2 years and 11 months longer), I will finish the blog remodel eventually. At this point, it’s a matter of sitting down with several hours of uninterrupted time. That’s a rare occurrence around here at the end of Tom and Huck’s school year.  The first and last months of school seem more crazed than the rest of the school year.  The amount of parental paperwork to be completed for next year’s enrollment in school, the parent meetings for next fall’s sports team participation, and the shopping for books on the summer reading list consume so much time it is rather astounding. There are also Boy Scout ceremonies, end-of-year music recitals, and culminating, year-end academic projects for both boys. This year, Tom’s class, the 7th graders, are throwing a dinner dance party for the graduating 8th graders and their families. If you’ve read this blog since its inception, you already know that residual childhood shyness sometimes rears its ugly head and I sometimes feel awkward in large social situations. Hence, I dread throwing parties. Lucky for me, another unsuspecting victim kind mother volunteered to be party chairman and I am merely an assistant who scurries about in the background during the week of the party.  I have only had to track down a costume for Tom to wear (party theme is Star Wars), help him make a video with his classmates that will be shown at the party, take him to performance rehearsals, and to help with set-up yesterday and clean-up at the party this evening. As I am one of about 70 helpers, this is actually not too bad. Many hands make light work after all.

Soon it will be time for our annual Yosemite camping trip and after that I am helping to plan an end-of-the-year party for Huck’s class.  Then it will finally be summer! The combination of all of these end of year activities has made working on the book business this month a ridiculous folly that I attempt only in an effort to relieve the tedium of attending too many parent meetings at school. I love my book business. It makes me happy to sit and catalogue, surrounded by a pile of books that demand nothing of me (except to be sold) and that give so much beauty and interesting information. As I recall from past years, the books will still be here in a couple of weeks when the boys finish up school.

Why am I telling you this? We’re all busy with various things, and, well, it seems like there’s always something, trying to distract me here and there, from my book hunting and bookselling adventures. Perhaps that’s the case for you, too.  I’m telling you about the non-bookish events going on here at the moment because I want you to know that I have not forgotten about the blog remodel.  I do seem to find snippets of time to write and to post, but my time for proofreading said posts and for sitting down to focus on re-designing the blog is limited. I’ll be writing and posting, but not finishing up the remodel until sometime in June.  Apologies, too, for any typos, mis-spellings, etc. My scattered mind is having a tough time catching my own mistakes when I write.  I could just quit. I could have done that with the Dante catalogue, too.  (I mean, really, who takes three years to write their first catalogue?) However, I find that if I keep moving forward during these busy seasons, I will later be happy I have done so.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 643 And the Winner is . . .

Choice #2!

Thanks very much to all (41 people!) who voted on the various options for the look of the Book Hunter’s Holiday blog and to those who took time to send me comments and email with suggestions for improvement. Here’s how the final tally looks:

Choice #2 (above) received 37% of the vote.

Choice #1 (below) received 19% of the vote.

Choice #3 (below) tied with Choice #1, receiving 19% of the vote.

Choice #4, (below) the way the old blog looked, received 15% of the vote.

11% of voters chose “other” and a few of these readers sent me emails about what they would change.

More than one of you did not like the photo of the books that was in the header. Someone even generously said that the books I’ve offered for sale at book fairs and on my website look better than the ones in the photo. The photo was a stock photo of old books, not my books, but point taken. Still others felt that the dark brown background was too dark on the eyes and that the “blizzard white” background was to hard on the eyes, and encouraged me to find some kind of custom-color happy medium. Nearly all who commented felt that the Book Hunter’s Holiday logo (known as the Book Hunter) should be prominent on the page. There was almost equal disagreement about whether the blog ought to have one or two sidebars. The advantage of two sidebars is that one doesn’t have to scroll down so far on the screen to see the information in the sidebar. That said, the advantage of one sidebar is that there is less visual distraction on the page.

So, what’s coming next? The blog will start incorporating both the winning layout and a few other modifications that take into account some of the specific comments people made. I’ll start working on that today, but the process is likely to take a few days. If you’re reading this on a blog reader or via email subscription, you might want to periodically check in here to see how the remodel is coming along.

Thanks again for your input. I really value your opinions and will use the information I gleaned from the informal poll to make a more dynamic and more readable blog, a place you might look forward to visiting.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 641 Blog Remodel: Thanks for Telling Me What You Like and What You Don’t

Thanks so much to all who gave feedback on the blog’s new look, whether by comment, email, or telephone.  It really helps me to know how the blog looks on your computer (or cell phone or iPad). I’ve received both praise and gentle criticism for the new look, which suggests to me that there are a few improvements that can still be made.

I’ve been told that on some browsers the dark brown background of the blog looks black, so in the next few days I will be experimenting with a different color scheme that is lighter in tone. The background should look brown, but not so brown it appears black.

I’ve also had a few people sign up for email subscriptions and I was notified of those subscriptions, but when someone else tried to sign up tonight (Tuesday), clicking on the subscription button took her to a blank screen, so I’ll try to resolve that issue as well. I’ll let you know when the problem is resolved so that if you’d like to sign up for a “subscription” to have new blog posts from this blog delivered to your email inbox, you can do so.

If you are reading the blog on an iPhone or an iPad, you should be able to read it just fine, but when viewed from these devices, the layout and color scheme of the blog look completely different from the way they look on a computer because the iPhone and iPad use mobile browsers to “read” online content. Apparently, these are different than a computer browser. (I am a total amateur when it comes to understanding how technology actually works. I just know that usually it does work.)  Once I resolve the issues on the computer version of the blog and reach a “final” format, I will adjust the layout for mobile browsers as well.

I am so glad to have had so many responses. It’s my desire to make this blog a place you enjoy visiting (perhaps with a cup of tea in hand).  I also want to make it a worthwhile resource for those who want to learn more about book collecting and bookselling. Additionally, I want the blog to link to my store website so I can sell a few books along the way.  It’s going to take a bit more revision to get everything to work in harmony, but I think I can do it in the next several days.

Thanks for your patience while the remodel continues. I’ll be back just as soon as I can.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 640 Unveiling the New Look

Tom and Huck were both busy with plans of their own this weekend, which meant that, strangely, I had plenty of time to work on books virtually uninterrupted. This is a rare weekend occurrence and I did not let it go to waste. It was a productive weekend, as I re-modeled and updated this blog, attended an antiques fair across the San Francisco Bay, and went to an auction in Silicon Valley.  It’s late Sunday as I type this, and I am now ready to relax with a book and some tea. Iced tea, that is. The sun finally broke through in the Bay Area today and it is nearly 80 degrees fahrenheit.

If you’re reading this blog, thank you. I’d love it if you take a look at the new layout and color-scheme and let me know what you think. I’ll point out a few of the differences and new features. A few things still need a little tweaking, but this amateur is glad to have managed the changes I did make.

If you’re reading this post through RSS subscription or a blog reader such as Google Reader, you might want to click through to the actual blog today so you can see the changes for yourself. You can click here to see the re-vamped version of the blog.

1) New menu feature at the top of the home page.

Eventually, I plan to re-design the Book Hunter’s Holiday online bookstore, and, when I do, I hope it’s format will look similar to the blog. Why? I don’t really know. I like symmetry. I like people to know that the blog and the bookstore are related.  I plan to use the menu at the top of the blog on my bookstore website as well in order to unify the two sites. You can use the menu to read about how Book Hunter’s Holiday got started, to access the blog home page, and to shop the online antiquarian bookstore. Under News and Events, you can access any news articles that feature Book Hunter’s Holiday (yeah, wishful thinking, I know, but there have actually been a couple over the years). Under Catalogues and Bulletins, you will find images and a downloadable PDF of all (one of) my catalogues and some of the one-item bulletins I’ve written for book fairs.  Under the last section, Helpful Resources, you will find links to all sorts of places such as the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, Rare Book School, auction record subscriptions, bookseller associations, and book collecting organizations.

2) On the left sidebar, you will find a link to the Book Hunter’s Holiday bookstore, our IOBA (Independent Online Booksellers Association) badge, the story of the Book Hunter’s Holiday logo (drawn by my great-grandmother), an explanation of what makes an antiquarian bookseller different from other booksellers, and a list of books I’m currently reading.  A while ago, a reader asked if there was any way to subscribe to this blog by email. I am happy to say that you can now do that, and you will find the subscription link on the left sidebar, too.

3)  On the right sidebar, you will find a downloadable PDF our most recent catalogue, a feature that allows you to search the blog for past posts, the five most recent posts, the top 10 most-read posts, and a search field for Categories and blog Archives.  I’ve also updated my blogroll, removing any links that are no longer in operation and updating a few whose blogs have migrated to new addresses.

4) You’ll find content, the heart of the blog, unchanged, right smack in the middle of the page.  As much as I like the ability to add more nifty features, I suspect (hope?) that most of you are here for the content. I know I am. I’m writing the blog to keep a record of my life as an antiquarian bookseller.  All of my book finds, sweet triumphs, ridiculous failures, and ongoing social awkwardness will continue to appear here.  If you like a particular post, there is a feature that will allow you to email the link to a friend or share the post via Facebook, Twitter, and a few other social network services. Your ability to leave comments and let me know what you’re thinking remains the same. Simply read to the bottom of a post and fill out the comment box.

I hope you’ll find that these changes make the blog easier to use and more dynamic. If, in your travels through various parts of the blog, you note a feature that doesn’t work like it should or doesn’t make sense or detracts from the blog as a whole, please leave a comment and let me know.

Last but not least, thank you for your readership. A few of you have been reading since the beginning, and I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed knowing that others have followed my progress as a bookseller (Hi, Mom!) and getting to know a few you via comments and even in person.

See you in the stacks!

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