Wednesday, August 21, 2013

And So It Grows ....


Where does the time go? Sounds like an old song I vaguely remember, but it’s a real question. I have never worked harder in all my years of bookselling and yet it seems like I’m trying to juggle a dozen books in the air without breaking any bindings. I am definitely fried these days, so much so that I’m getting crispy around the edges. Part of that is the arrival of the second half of the 4000 books from the Cleveland sale. I got them about a week or two ago (time is complicated – who knows?) and have made only a small dent in the unpacking. Most of my time has been spent stocking my new ephemera site which you can see at  It’s a very slow process because I have to do it one item at a time, but I did reach the magic number of 100 “products” today. Why that’s magical I have no idea, but it feels like a milestone somehow.

As I write this I’m waiting for a guy who bought a book from me on Abe to come by to sell me half a dozen books of his. They’re good, so I’m pretty happy about it, but  I don’t know. I am really, really wound up, vibrating like a buzz saw, and have been since I last wrote. I also see that I lost a follower too which doesn’t surprise me. Why hang around the Dead Zone? I truly am trying hard to get over here more frequently and I hope that will happen, but for now I’m doing the best I can. I also think the ephemera site is not going to  attract an audience as easily as I’d hoped. I put a link on both it and my book site so you can easily switch back and forth between the two, but my book trraffic is not paying much attention to the ephemera. It looks like that will have to find its own audience.

I spent some time yesterday designing a flyer which I hope won’t be a waste of time. Eric’s  going to be selling for the store at the Great Trail Festival in Malvern for the next two weekends and he said he would put a flyer in every bag with every sale if I made one. So I gave it a go and he called just now to tell me it turned out very well. I’d show it you but I won’t have it until tonight.

Another thing that’s  been bugging me these days is the antiques mall. Traffic there has been quite slow compared to other summers, though I did just sell a set of 95 Louis L’ Amour novels which I immediately replaced with 116, plus a photograph book. That should take another year to sell which is how long the first set needed to find a home. My big issue right now with the mall though is another theft. You won’t believe this one! I didn’t believe this one and I still can hardly grasp it. We were over there Sunday restocking when Eric says, “Oh, look, you sold that nice A.I. Root beekeeping catalog. The worker forgot the ticket though.” Sure enough, the catalog was missing from its space on the top shelf. Eric unlocked the glass door and removed the ticket which I then took to the desk for their records. Imagine my shock when they said it hadn’t sold!  Apparently, somebody picked the lock, snatched it, and locked the cabinet back up with no one being the wiser. And now I’ve lost this scarce 1916 local interest trade catalog priced at $45. The chances of getting it back are minus-zero.

This post is definitely a downer – I know that -- but I have always told you the real deal, good or bad, so this time is no different. Sales were strong for a while, but ever since last weekend have really dropped off and this is with me listing every single freaking day! So add it all up and there’s no whirling and twirling over here.

And definitely no confetti.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

NOW We're Talking!


As we speak, books in white banker  boxes dance with books in brown cardboard cartons in the garage, a sight I have not enjoyed since last winter when we found ourselves tramping through the dark heart of January to buy books on a semi-truck.. At least this time there was no climbing involved, no shivering, no hands the color of boiled lobsters, no skating over glazed tree roots, and, the best part of all, no uglies -- just the good, the bad, and the very good.  It may not seem like it, but this is HUGE. We always get some uglies – remember Ugly House a couple years ago? Well, this time we finally bought our books in a sedate and pleasing atmosphere. And get this --  none of them smelled bad or littered the floor with pieces of themselves. Now that’s what I call PROGRESS!

Of course all these books weren’t free and we did spend a lot of money, but it was a great deal and  I have zero regrets. I don’t know how many boxes we’ve gone through because Eric unloaded quite a few and transferred the books to the shelves in the garage. From there I’ve listed 58 online and taken 32 to the antiques mall. So far I’ve sold two – one at each venue – but both were decent sales, if a bit odd. I have beautiful architecture books, a special limited edition of the 1937 Audubon Birds of America in mint condition, a slipcased  pristine copy of the first modern printing of Catlin’s Drawings of the North American Indians as they were rendered in pencil with their accompanying notes in his sketchbook., and  much Ohioana and ephemera. But what did I sell? A book about the New England Society in Cleveland from the early 1930’s and another about the Pittsburgh Glass Company, also from the early 30’s. The latter was a thing of beauty though – fabulous pictures. I sold it once before a few years ago on ebay, but that was back in the day when the bay knew how to play nice with others.

To say that I feel a sense of optimism right now is a massive understatement of the highest order when  the garage is so pleasingly full and  only half of what we bought is even here yet. We have to go back and get the rest next week or maybe  the week after. Meanwhile I love the way I look at a shelf and immediately pick out maybe two good titles and then later go back to the same shelf and awaken several sleepers. A perfect example of the latter  is my favorite ephemera piece – a scarce item about the Mayflower Hotel in Akron. My parents had their wedding breakfast there in 1949, but for me it’s forever linked with summer when the Soap Box Derby came to town. The press, WHLO radio, a band, and pretty high school cheerleaders and majorettes gathered outside the hotel and as each racer pulled up in front  (in those days they were all boys) music played, the girls kissed the  would-be conquering heroes, and Akron’s biggest summer event was officially launched. The building still stands, but the grand Mayflower receded into history which makes my wonderful find all the more meaningful.

In the midst of this joy, however, my husband’s secretary of 36 years suddenly died, so there were a few days of shock,  incredulity, and sadness. But with it came a monumental sense of  NOW. At the service the rent-a-minister (who was quite icky) said over and over that the woman he had never met “squeezed every drop out of each moment.” I wish it were true but I don’t believe it. None of us really do that, but some of us try hard. I’m a trier and I’m going tto try even harder now, though I must say that my work as a bookseller has been the most fulfilling job of my life aside from  raising my children.

And that’s precisely why I’m either whirling, twirling and throwing confetti, or whining like a gnat in your ear!