Member Blogs > ten pound island book company

  • Buying Things That Don't Exist

    Sun, 09 Feb 2014 12:47:45 Permalink
    So much for San Francisco. Long easy drive down the 101 to PismoBeach. The vast Pacific and its eternal song.Monarch butterflies gathering in eucalyptus trees by the hundreds of thousands, as they’ve been doing for eons. The male will fly with his chosen one to the treetops, spend six hours of insect ecstasy, and die. The female will fly away, find a milkweed plant, lay her eggs, and die. Some of these creatures have flown halfway across America, utilizing “stored fat.” Where does a butterfly store enough fat to get it as high as 10,000 feet, 100 miles a day? Read More
  • On Being Geniuses

    Mon, 03 Feb 2014 09:46:59 Permalink
    Telegraph HillOkay. This is the first thing that happens, and it happens every year. We leave home in the pre-dawn chill, hoping we’ve given ourselves sufficient time to account for snow and ice, and that no blizzards trap us in the airport for three days. We pass through security in a sleepy daze, find our seats, doze off, wake, read, sleep, and six hours later step out of the steel cocoon into gentle breezes, blue skies, rolling hills. We feel the sun warm our faces and we think, “We are geniuses!” We’ve made it to California once again.This year the big Read More
  • Bank On It

    Mon, 27 Jan 2014 10:10:06 Permalink
    I taught at CABS (Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar) a few years ago, once as the featured specialist dealer, and once pinch hitting for Rob Rulon-Miller.Rob Rulon-Miller telling students, "Listen to the book!"I went there thinking it would be like a week in summer camp – book stories, hikes, and handicrafts. I came away deeply impressed with the level of commitment on the part of the faculty,the seriousness with which they took their roles as instructors, and the level of information, all of it useful, imparted during that intense week in Colorado Springs. We trained for books with the same intensity as Read More
  • Another Hit for Garry & the Flamingoz?

    Mon, 20 Jan 2014 12:02:08 Permalink
    Sharing a booth at the first Metropolis Book & VintageEphemera Show in New York City with old pal Lin Respess of L&T Respess Books  and taking his goods along with ours. Quite a load. This was my third show in three weeks, and I thought I’d be battle fatigued. Instead I found myself in a genial haze. Another book fair? Why not!As I entered the 69th Regiment Armory I was impressed by the sense of history the place exudes. Of course, the “fighting 69th” has a storied past, and the building itself has been the site of some notable events, including Read More
  • Eye Candy

    Sun, 12 Jan 2014 07:00:02 Permalink
    Marvin Getman's Antiques & Design ShowThis can be a very constricting profession. Financial and intellectual pressures tend to create a kind of intensity in our relationship to our material. We've got to understand that manuscript. We've got to get that catalog out, get those books online. I keep talking about the need for different experiences, new venues, fresh points of view. About getting out and looking at the forest instead of the trees. Or different trees, at least.And, every once in a while I take my own advice. When books and paper get a little stale, there’s always an“antique show” Read More
  • Just a Matter of Luck

    Mon, 06 Jan 2014 01:33:37 Permalink
    After my car got totaled I went for a walk. Slipped on the ice and hurt my wrist so badly I thought it was broken. But I didn’t have time to properly diagnose the injury because, almost immediately upon returning home, I came down with a nasty case of stomach flu courtesy of the grandchildren. You know the drill… porcelain goddess. Next day I was able to determine that I had only bruised, not broken, the wrist. That was the good news. The bad news was that the kid who hit my car (It was parked in front of my Read More
  • My Retirement Plans

    Mon, 30 Dec 2013 09:31:38 Permalink
    N. & W.W. Billings Archive (see below)Everybody knows how to research an old book. You go on the Internet and type the title in Google. After a few minutes of fumbling around you come upon Addall, or Bookfinder, or viaLibri, or ABE or Amazon or any of dozens of sites with searchable databases. On this site, you find a copy of your book for $2500 and you realize you have discovered a great treasure (the other 32 listings for this title, ranging down to $5, are obviously defective, and therefore you ignore them.)But it’s much harder learning about other kinds Read More
  • All I Want for Xmas is a Droid with Apps

    Sun, 22 Dec 2013 01:44:11 Permalink
    It's that time of year again, and for the fourth year running I am reprinting my classic Xmas blog, first published to great acclaim in 2010. (Well, the guy who worked for me said he liked it, but of course it was payday.) I love tradition. And I love the tradition of getting a Christmas reprieve from my blogging chores. So, without further ado...I’m old, and have made peace with myself, mostly. I suppose you could call it “set in my ways.” Hence, I feel no need to adjust my wardrobe choices to the dictates of whatever modern fashion might Read More
  • Hens, Chicks, and Whales

    Sun, 15 Dec 2013 04:18:45 Permalink
    According to author Joan Druett a hen frigate “traditionally, was any ship with the captain's wife on board.” In fact, Joan wrote a wonderful book on the subject titled, reasonably enough, Hen Frigates: Wives of Merchant Captains Under Sail. The book came out in 1998, but for years before that I’d known about these sailor-wives, and had always been on the lookout for artifacts from their voyages.They wrote letters aboard ship, of course, and did needlework, drawing, painting, and many of the other “feminine arts” to while the long days away. They annotated bibles and saved leaves and flowers from Read More
  • This is what it's come to…

    Sat, 07 Dec 2013 02:36:41 Permalink
    A call from a longstanding customer who is at death’s door and wants to be sure his collection is properly taken care of. He was avid and wealthy in the 60s and 70s and was able, with the help of a legendary Boston antiques dealer, to vacuum important material from the attics of Back Bay widows at prices that today seem ridiculously low. He also bought from Edward J. Lefkowicz, Carola Paine, Caravan Books, and me. The antique dealer is long dead, as are Paine and the proprietors of Caravan. Lefkowicz has retired from the trade. The collector called me Read More
  • The Amazon Problem

    Mon, 02 Dec 2013 09:51:11 Permalink
    Everybody in the book biz – antiquarian, used, and writing ‘em – seems obsessed with the dominance of Amazon. So, after watching the Patriots – Texans game, and then the Brocos – Chiefs, I snuck in a segment of “60 Minutes” which featured an interview with Jeff Bezos before tuning in the Redskins - Giants game.According to Jeff, warehouses are going up everywhere and Amazon has plans to deliver everything to anyone instantly. His vision of consumer paradise includes flying drones that will drop packages weighing up to five pounds at your doorstep. In fact, the entire sequence was a puff Read More
  • Rabbit Hole Publishing

    Sun, 24 Nov 2013 05:25:43 Permalink
    My writer pals talk about the harsh realities of getting their work published in today’s difficult market. My indie bookstore acquaintances, in their darker moments (they generally put on brave fronts) talk about skyrocketing rents, rising costs, and the decline of the printed word. My IOBA colleagues talk about the difficulties of selling used books in an online environment monopolized by Amazon. My ABAA colleagues talk about how institutional budget cuts and the rise of digital publishing have made it harder than ever to sell antiquarian books.Sounds hard, however you cut it.But what if I told you, as my buddy Anthony Weller told Read More
  • Chittering Hordes

    Mon, 18 Nov 2013 09:11:39 Permalink
    They were everywhere. Squealing, chittering hordes of them. Not as disgusting as crack house roaches or subway rats; vaguely humanoid in fact, with their funny knitted hats, backpacks, discrete piercings, and plastic communications devices dangling from their ears.Utterly self-absorbed, concentrating intently on posting the next YouTube video of their friends in line at Starbucks. Im talking, folks, about teenagers. High school students from everywhere in America, come to the Back Bay to sit on floors, clog the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel, block access to elevators, and stand in line by the dozens at every food venue within half a Read More
  • Other Voices, Other Rooms

    Sun, 10 Nov 2013 09:34:27 Permalink
    Just a quick one this week. Still a lot of items to catalog and prepare before next weekends big Boston International Antiquarian BookFair. And the visitors will be arriving soon!Over at Flatrocks Gallery Anne Marie and Cynthia are getting warmed up for the holiday season with a wonderful show called FeastAs you might imagine, this show features images of food in various media, and food-related items in clay, fabric, wood, and stone. I happened to overhear them brainstorming about it last month, and had a sudden inspiration.Anne Marie, remember that bookshop in Portland we used to stop at? The one that Read More
  • Saturday Afternoon in Vaitahu Bay

    Sun, 03 Nov 2013 10:14:55 Permalink
    Saturday afternoon, November 2, 2013, my back yardSpent most of Saturday morning looking out my back window and thinking it was Friday. Talk about falling back - I saved an entire day! After the jolt of realizing my mistake, or maybe because of it, my afternoon settled into a sleepy routine. I checked my email, ate a couple of leftover Halloween candy bars, and pulled down the next book in the pile waiting to be cataloged.It wasnt much to look at. The binding was broken, the boards were detached, and the sewing had come loose. On top of that, it Read More
  • Sh*t Explosion

    Mon, 28 Oct 2013 09:58:17 Permalink
    Maritime List 219 - AfterStill too gimpy to drive across the state, so Im skipping the Albany Book Fair this weekend. But Dan Gaeta, who was doing the show, called to tell me about an interesting item hed found.  Its nice to have friends! (Dan operates John Bale Book Co., a caf and book shop in Waterbury, CT. Talk about a simple but effective website, check out John Bale Books ) Anyway, since Ive been home all week, grumpily compiling my next catalog, and since I dont have a book fair to report on, I thought Id talk a little about Read More
  • People Who Have It Worse

    Wed, 23 Oct 2013 05:13:55 Permalink
    My blown quadriceps tendon turned out to be a little more disabling than Id hoped. For the first time in my career, I was forced to cancel out of a book fair   Book Row in Marvin Getmans infallibly interesting Boston Antiques & Design show . Next weekend is Garry Austins Albany Antiquarian Book Fair. Probably miss that one, too.So there I was, glumly pecking away, cataloging books for my next maritime list, hoping Id be able to get myself back in the game in time for the big Boston Book Fair November 15th. Ill admit that, despite an ample supply of Read More
  • People Who Have It Worse

    Wed, 23 Oct 2013 03:51:32 Permalink
    My blown quadriceps tendon turned out to be a little more disabling than Id hoped. For the first time in my career, I was forced to cancel out of a book fair   Book Row in Marvin Getmans infallibly interesting Boston Antiques & Design show . Next weekend is Garry Austins Albany Antiquarian Book Fair. Probably miss that one, too.So there I was, glumly pecking away, cataloging books for my next maritime list, hoping Id be able to get myself back in the game in time for the big Boston Book Fair November 15th. Ill admit that, despite an ample supply of Read More
  • People Who Have It Worse

    Mon, 21 Oct 2013 10:22:47 Permalink
    My blown quadriceps tendon turned out to be a little more disabling than Id hoped. For the first time in my career, I was forced to cancel out of a book fair   Book Row in Marvin Getmans infallibly interesting Boston Antiques & Design show . Next weekend is Garry Austins Albany Antiquarian Book Fair. Probably miss that one, too.So there I was, glumly pecking away, cataloging books for my next maritime list, hoping Id be able to get myself back in the game in time for the big Boston Book Fair November 15th. Ill admit that, despite an ample supply of Read More
  • Fresh Carpets

    Mon, 14 Oct 2013 12:02:23 Permalink
    Recently, on the Internet discussion lists of the two biggest bookselling trade groups -  IOBA and ABAA  -  Ive been reading disheartening reports. Sales are down. Postage is up. And the big listing sites like AMAZON, ABE and Alibris are raising fees, reducing service and enforcing increasingly byzantine procedures aimed at making it easier and more profitable for them rather than the book dealers who patronize them. Sounds like the way gun nuts talk about their Second Amendment rights. Python coils, and all that.Louis Collins, however, is doing just fine. Hes been in business since the 1960s and its obvious Read More
  • The Original "Big Book"

    Mon, 07 Oct 2013 12:59:19 Permalink
    Lines of the Great EasternIn the random (this weeks nomination for a word thats been misused to death) way typical of buying trips, last weeks journey through  Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia yielded some interesting and unexpected finds.For example, I had no idea that I would uncover an album of 24 silver prints, circa 1890, of what appear to be damaged European ships (Casualties) docked at a Russian shipyard in Odessa,any more than I could have predicted that Id be offered a handsome 14 x 10 silver print of the start of the 1903 Americas Cup race between Read More
  • O, Canada!

    Mon, 30 Sep 2013 07:26:34 Permalink
    Found a few good things to buy in Halifax, then went up to Cape Breton to do some more work on the Back Forty.Spotty Internet, low battery, no electricity.That's it for this week Read More
  • The Wrong Guy

    Sun, 22 Sep 2013 10:16:58 Permalink
    Short road trip, but a long day. I didnt pull into my Quality Inn until about 9:30 p.m. Kicked off my shoes with a weary sigh, poured me a whiskey, and flipped open the days McNews.I must confess that USA Today is one of my great illicit road pleasures, right up there with Krispy Kreme Donuts and rib eyes at Outback Steak House. There is something indescribably tasty (and equally sickening, if imbibed to excess) about the daily froth of American popular culture delivered in an analog mode. If you spill your whiskey you can mop it up with the Read More
  • "The report of my death was an exaggeration"

    Mon, 16 Sep 2013 10:40:11 Permalink
    Peter Blackman spreads his waresSeems hard to believe that, just a year ago, I was writing the obituary of the New Hampshire Antiquarian Bookseller Association Book Fair. This event, one of the longest running in the trade, had just been cancelled owing to lack of response from New Hampshire dealers.It was a sad state of affairs. Id been attending the show since the late 1970s, back when it was the big event of the fall and the air in the function hall (I think the venue was called the Highway Hotel) crackled with excitement. Who bore the responsibility for last Read More
  • The Best Blurb I Never Got

    Sun, 08 Sep 2013 11:25:16 Permalink
    Elmore Dutch Leonard is my hero.His crime stories are great, but its his westerns written at the beginning of his career that really get me. Sentence to sentence Leonard can hold his own with Hemingway, and his plots are so soundly constructed and deeply satisfying that two of them, at least, have been turned into big Hollywood movies Hombre and 3:10 to Yuma.The power of those stories has to do with  the country  in which they occur. Leonard writes about the west in a way that makes the setting seem elemental and timeless. The details he deploys Read More
  • Blue Monday

    Sun, 01 Sep 2013 01:24:58 Permalink
    Raymond Chandlers Philip Marlowe was a jaded knight-errant with a taste for wisecracks. Dashiell Hammetts Continental Op, by comparison, was a blunt instrument. A dumpy middle aged guy, tough as nails, with an engine that wouldnt quit. Theyre both wonderful characters, and I know their voices as well as I know the voice of an old friend.Last Monday, in a restful moment following my lengthy road trip, I got a yen for yet another detectives voice the moody tones of Lew Archer, Ross Macdonalds iconic shamus. Archer prowled Southern California a generation after Marlowe. The scene had changed, and Read More
  • Me and the Brothers

    Mon, 26 Aug 2013 11:25:18 Permalink
    Normally, the Boston - Philly run is a tough one. No matter what time I leave Gloucester I get caught up in rush hour surrounding one of the several urban centers along my route. This year, however, I seemed to be traveling under a lucky star. I left home at 5 a.m. and was in suburban Philadelphia by lunchtime. Baltimore the next day, after another effortless drive. Up to Metchen, NJ that evening, same story. Then the drive I was dreading. New Jersey to Hartford on Friday morning, through the hell of the tunnel/bridge traffic jams, stalled cars, fender benders, Read More
  • Trumpets of Death

    Mon, 19 Aug 2013 08:54:49 Permalink
    A patch of clethra or "sweet pepper" along the pathThis is one of my favorite seasons in the woods.Ill be walking along, listening to the crickets tuning up for their summers end symphony, watching the baby hoppy-toads tumble comically across my path, sniffing forest aromas of pine or leaf mold and mushrooms, when suddenly Ill catch an intoxicating whiff of perfume. The effect is always surprising. The woods hardly seem to be a place for such delicate fragrance. Then Ill see a patch of clethra, or sweet pepper as they are commonly called, ahead of me on the path. And Read More
  • That Interesting Young Female

    Mon, 12 Aug 2013 10:52:27 Permalink
    In his classic book on the bookselling trade, Adventures of a Treasure Hunter, my bookselling idol Charlie Everitt has this to say about vacations, Vacations with me are an end, not a means. I believe in taking two, preferably three, months off, pursuing the greatest of game fish, the smallmouth bass, with no radio and no old books.Like many of Everitts pronouncements, this one has a valuable grain of truth bloated to steroidal proportions by his love of a good story. I sincerely doubt old Charlie ever spent three straight months fishing for smallmouth bass, but his core observation is Read More
  • The Monster Inside Me

    Sun, 04 Aug 2013 09:56:46 Permalink
     Ive got a nice catalog of rare books shaping up for publication some time after Labor Day. Just have to survive the cash flow crunch for another month. All my dough is tied up in the nice catalog and, as usual, Im waiting on $25,000 in receivables to keep me alive. Such is the tedious math of the micro businessman.So, as a survival aid, Im taking my chainsaw up to the farm in Cape Breton tomorrow. Ill live on whiskey, rice, and beans, and keep my other expenses close to zero while clearing my field (the work of the past Read More
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