Tuesday, January 22, 2013
But getting back to the beginning – a couple weeks ago an attorney came into our store and inquired as to whether we would be interested in a semi-truck full of books. Eric is game for anything. He’d retrieve books from a donkey cart stuck in a Central American rain forest. So of course he told her we’d love to see them. I, on the other hand, responded with a mixture of excitement and skepticism. Before you tell me it’s not possible to be both excited and negative at the same time, I assure you I wasn’t. I see-sawed back and forth between the two emotions for three days. Depending on who I was talking to it sounded either fun and fabulous or stupid and a waste of time. Interestingly enough, It didn’t turn out to be either.
I don’t know what it is about us. Whenever there are a lot of books ranging in condition and subject from superb to landfill located in a less than charming location the Universe sends them to us stamped Express Mail. This is the fourth time I can think of that we encountered a hoarder situation, but I’ve also probably repressed a couple minor ones. Anyway, the previous owner had the semi-truck in the backyard so when the house got too crowded with the various other things he collected he stored the books in plastic tubs, stashed them in the truck, and there they stayed until he died. His interests were pretty varied, but if pinned to the wall I’d say the primary ones were these: art glass lamps, collectible canes, music and musical instruments, horses, horse racing, book collecting, gambling, guns, antique and vintage cars, home building and, oddly enough, interior design
.The good thing about all of this was the fact that the very best books – and there actually were some – had managed to escape confinement in the truck, though the truck itself was less problem than the way it had been packed. Several good titles landed in the dumpster because their owner had stood them upright in the bin and crammed many more upright at a diagonal around them. Several ended up so warped you could have used them to carry in kindling. Fortunately, we had access to a large on-site dumpster which the attorney understood we would need, but this also meant that every bin had to be opened, winnowed, and repacked. We went from 130 bins down to 84 in five hours.As you can see form the photo above, we have them home and neatly stacked. I’ve already been through not quite half (there are some more down at other the end of the garage by the doors too). But I’m in this operation deep enough now to know that despite the junk and the low end stuff I would never buy individually we will still do fine. Primarily this is because we have a unique three-tiered situation which makes such buys work for us. The best items (which right now amount to just two bins) will go online. The next tier will go to the mall and the rest to the store. I wished on an entire constellation of stars that every book in every box or bin would end up being mine so I can breathe easier for a few months about inventory. But clearly it’s not going to happen.
In order to get the goodies, however few in number, I apparently need to WORK.
P.S. Blogger is still not acepting pictures normally. I had to WORK to get his one here and was reluctant to push my luck with more. So if, and when, it gets fixed I'll show you some of the good books.
Monday, January 14, 2013
It’s been a crazy week, as we bought somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-60 tubs of books off a semi-truck. I know – it sounds pretty wacky – but I’ll explain it the next time I post. Meanwhile, back in Sheila Markham’s absorbing book A Book of Booksellers; Conversations with the Antiquarian Book Trade I managed to cull yet more interesting comments from booksellers past and present (mostly past). I loved this book which is why I roared through it as fast as I did, but what you’re getting here is only a microcosm of the wisdom it holds – a handful of crumbs instead of the whole bag of Doritos.
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
As you know, I gnash and rend endlessly over the difficulty of finding books for stock. Turns out I’m not alone, as evidenced by this quote from Peter Eaton, “I was talking to the librarian of Rochdale, where they had a statue of Hitler in the town square and people used to throw books at Hitler for a waste paper drive. The librarian picked out one or two incunabula like that. There were a lot of pickings in those days.”
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
New Year’s Day, however, found us at an auction with the deepest pocketed people in three counties. Everything I wanted passed me by, including a turn-of-the-century game so fabulous that the thick edges of the folding board looked like the spine of a fine book when closed. It had the spinner, the pieces, the original box and even the directions which were pristine. I bid to $130, but it sold at $275. The next thing I tried for was a short stack of early Harley motorcycle magazines from the 20’s and 30’s. I went to $250, but THEY went to somebody else for an eye-popping $650! Our antiques dealer friend Darwin was there and invited us to mend our wounds over dinner that evening, so I made some homemade gingerbread and we headed to Akron for pork and sauerkraut with wine and my dessert. Whatever red wine it was he had I strongly recommend as an antidote to both pricey auctions and fiscal cliffs! (Turns out it was Spellbound, Petite Sirah 2010, California)
Another cool thing that happened over the holidays is a trade I made with my friend Cheryl with whom I reconnected last year (or was it the year before?). Cheryl and I were friends back in the 70’s, but lost track of each other when I moved to Medina. We reconnected decades later in the parking lot at Buehler’s grocery store at River Styx in Medina .Cheryl can sew anything – I mean the woman could make a tuxedo for a gorilla -- but instead she is making fun aprons and pillows which she sells on etsy. Cheryl made a transfer of my website’s logo seen at www.garrisonhousebooks.com and – voila! – my girl in the red chair was immortalized on a pillow. In exchange I gave her a book -- The Sewing Book; Containing Complete Instructions in Sewing and Simple Garment-Making for Children in the Primary and Grammar Grades, published by Butterick in 1913. Because the drawings of the kids in their spiffy outfits are in the public domain she can now resurrect them with a modern spin. To read her take on what happened in our crazy trade go to her blog http://csturgeo.blogspot.com/