Member Blogs > ten pound island book company

  • Putting the Book Back in Bookselling

    Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:23:06 Permalink
    My favorite thing about IOBA (Independent OnlineBooksellers Association) is the chat line. On the chat line I learn over and over how diverse a business this is. Here's a fairly typical string in which IOBAns help each other sort out a problem: ...I thought I had figured out a way to up the prices by a fixed amount in Excel. The problem was I ruined all the 978 ISBNs and didn't even realize it for a few months. It seems BookHound uses some kind of equation in the ISBN field, which I guess helps with the 10-digit, 13-digit conversion. When the Read More
  • Xmas Rant (one in an ongoing series)

    Mon, 08 Dec 2014 11:37:43 Permalink
    Okay, it's the Christmas season. I think I remember, from an abortive Sunday School career, Jesus telling us to suffer the little children – a tricky collision of images, that. And I recall him saying, “Blessed be the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God.” And, one I spent a lot of time thinking about, “the truth shall make you free.” But nowhere, to the best of my knowledge, did Jesus of Nazareth advise us to clog highways and box store parking lots, to roam malls like zombies in heat, or to line up outside stores at 6:00 Read More
  • House Calls and Archives

    Sun, 30 Nov 2014 07:34:49 Permalink
    Portrait of the artist as a young dog, circa 1967As readers of this blog may be aware, I exited the retail “bricks and mortar” trade years ago. Sold my thousands of books, book shelves and store furniture, and settled down to life as a big shot highfalutin rare book dealer. Almost immediately I found myself in acute distress owing to an unanticipated shortage of cash – I mean in the form of undeclared singles, fives, tens, and twenties that leaked in every day. Like any sensible retail shop owner I had depended on this trickle of green to provide for Read More
  • Funny Business

    Sun, 23 Nov 2014 08:37:20 Permalink
    It's a funny business. There is no accounting for why or when things come to you. Every time I buy an American whaling log, for example, I think I may never see another one again. And then...Over the past month I've gathered, from various sources, a mind boggling stack of 18thand 19th century logbooks and sailor's journals. Not much to look at, I'll admit. But the gravitational force of this remarkable accumulation has dragged me, like a wayward comet, from my comfortable orbit in the 21st century to the dicey seafaring days of the 1800s. The phone rings. I pick Read More
  • Boston 2014: Rheumatology

    Mon, 17 Nov 2014 02:16:14 Permalink
    The fair is over. I made some money. I needed it. What else is new?Well, for one thing, Boston's hotels have uniformly adopted a new ripoff algorithm. The moment room demand reaches a tipping point, rack rates go into overdrive. Boston was crawling with rhumatologists on book fair weekend, and demand for rooms was at an all time high. A couple of prominent rheumatologists, doing what rheumatologists doThese Docs don't care what they pay – they're doctors. But little people like us will suffer. I'm on the book fair committee and when our promoter, the capable Betty Fulton, announced that she'd Read More
  • A Very Special Collection

    Sun, 09 Nov 2014 12:39:49 Permalink
    A couple of weeks ago, on the Exlibris listserve, the resident genius and presiding spirit of the rare book and special collections worlds, Terry Belanger, published summaries of presentations at the “National Colloquium on Library Special Collections.” The roster of speakers featured luminaries such as Stephen Enniss (The Ransom Center), Jay Satterfield (Dartmouth), Mark Dimunation (Library of Congress); and our own Ken Lopez. It interested me that, according to Terry's reports, these people spent a lot of time talking about archives. And it was even more interesting to hear them repeatedly asking, “What constitutes an archive?” Because, obviously, the nature of Read More
  • Book Show Wars Heat Up

    Mon, 03 Nov 2014 09:44:08 Permalink
    In my October 20 blog entry I outlined the turf war that is shaping up between two book fair promoters, Impact Events Group and Flamingo Eventz. At that time it seemed as if Marvin Getman of Impact - by scheduling a New York Shadow Show closer to the big ABAA fair, and opening it earlier - had stolen the march on John and Tina Bruno of Flamingo. This morning subscribers to IOBA, Rarebook, and ABAA chatlines received the following email from Garry Austin:Recently there has been much discussion regarding the future of the “Shadow Show” to the New York ABAA Read More
  • To E or Not to E

    Mon, 27 Oct 2014 01:23:52 Permalink
    Maritime Lists 1-225. Thirty-eight years of agony and ecstasy in a foot and a halfA few years ago, in the course of one of my hyper-dramatized but mostly benign financial panics, I decided to stop issuing printed catalogs. Though I loved, and was proud of, my catalogs, they cost nearly of $4 each, and seemed to serve primarily as a vehicles for frustrated customers to complain about my grossly unfair manner of distributing them, or excuses for non-ordering pedants to inform me of the many grammatical and spelling errors they contained. I sent hyper-dramatized farewells to customers who did not Read More
  • Book Show Wars

    Mon, 20 Oct 2014 07:37:05 Permalink
    Back in the 1990s Bernice Bornstein saw an opportunity and took advantage of it. Her husband Marvin owned a parking lot directly across the street from the Hynes Auditorium, where the Boston International Antiquarian BookFair was being held. “Why not have a smaller show for non-ABAA dealers that same weekend?” she asked. “We could use the basement of Marvin's garage.” Thus the first “Shadow Show” was born.The idea met intense resistance at first. Old-line ABAA dealers were concerned that another show would steal customers and dilute earnings. They feared the public would confuse the ABAA show, where rigid standards for Read More
  • "Govern Yourselves Accordingly"

    Mon, 13 Oct 2014 10:37:12 Permalink
    This was supposed to have been a review of last weekend's Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair. But the event went so smoothly, and was such a success, that there isn't really much to say about it. Load in and setup proceeded without a hitch. The venue was roomy and well lit, and a steady and enthusiastic crowd kept us on our toes all weekend, dealing with librarians, private collectors and even a smattering of that most sought after demographic, young people. Almost everyone made money. I had dinner Sunday night with two dealers who each sold over $100,000, and now I have Read More
  • Robbie

    Mon, 06 Oct 2014 08:28:15 Permalink
    I'm up in Cape Breton working on the last of the Ledyard essays, clearing land, and hauling gravel for the foundation of the writer's shack that, time and $$ permitting, will some day be sitting at the top of my field. Aside from a few email queries, there's not much business going on at Ten Pound Island Book Company, so I thought I'd give you a little sample from the current Ledyard piece. As you may recall, the project centers around my walk from Hanover, New Hampshire to Hartford, Connecticut, tracing a canoe voyage made by the famed “American Traveler” Read More
  • Last Walk

    Sun, 28 Sep 2014 09:46:28 Permalink
    Headed to the farm on Cape Breton to lay the foundation for my Thoreau-not writer's shack, and to finish writing up the last of the Ledyard walk. And yes, you're right. Walking it was a snap compared to writing it...PrefaceLedyard bleeding out upon the sands of Egypt. A quick flashback montage of Dartmouth College, Captain Cook, John Paul Jones, Jefferson in Paris, those seductive ladies of the night, Joseph Banks, the Nile (“Do you know the river Connecticut? Of all the rivers I have seen it most resembles it in size.”) The sand.But I’m finished with Ledyard, long before his Read More
  • Paper Town

    Mon, 22 Sep 2014 03:13:08 Permalink
    It was a beautiful morning, one of the last fine days of the summer, with trees just beginning to turn the corner toward the explosion of colors that precede winter's monotone. But instead of going into the woods, where I know the swamp maples along the brook are already flashing their pinks and deeper reds, I got in my car and drove to Paper Town That's what promoters John and Tina Bruno call it, anyway. Actually, it's nothing more than a large conference room in a former Radisson (I think)  Hotel, now repurposed as a slightly seedy, past-its-prime Holiday Inn. Which is, Read More
  • Marvin's Daughter

    Tue, 16 Sep 2014 05:42:35 Permalink
    In the 1980s a buddy of mine who worked for a union in Manhattan got to know some people who knew some people who made it possible for him to purchase a three family tenement in Greenpoint. This deal required some social engineering because Greenpoint was a very tight neighborhood. I used to hang out there when I had business in New York, and I remember it as tidy but bleak, sporting long rows of asbestos clad tenements under gunmetal skies. When I parked my car and walked to by buddy's place, eyes followed me every step of the way Read More
  • Marvin's Daughter

    Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:23:57 Permalink
    In the 1980s a buddy of mine who worked for a union in Manhattan got to know some people who knew some people who made it possible for him to purchase a three family tenement in Greenpoint. This deal required some social engineering because Greenpoint was a very tight neighborhood. I used to hang out there when I had business in New York, and I remember it as tidy but bleak, sporting long rows of asbestos clad tenements under gunmetal skies. When I parked my car and walked to by buddy's place, eyes followed me every step of the way Read More
  • Marvin's Daughter

    Mon, 15 Sep 2014 12:38:35 Permalink
    In the 1980s a buddy of mine who worked for a union in Manhattan got to know some people who knew some people who made it possible for him to purchase a three family tenement in Greenpoint. This deal required some social engineering because Greenpoint was a very tight neighborhood. I used to hang out there when I had business in New York, and I remember it as tidy but bleak, sporting long rows of asbestos clad tenements under gunmetal skies. When I parked my car and walked to by buddy's place, eyes followed me every step of the way Read More
  • Marvin's Daughter

    Mon, 15 Sep 2014 01:44:10 Permalink
    In the 1980s a buddy of mine who worked for a union in Manhattan got to know some people who knew some people who made it possible for him to purchase a three family tenement in Greenpoint. This deal required some social engineering because Greenpoint was a very tight neighborhood. I used to hang out there when I had business in New York, and I remember it as tidy but bleak, sporting long rows of asbestos clad tenements under gunmetal skies. When I parked my car and walked to by buddy's place, eyes followed me every step of the way Read More
  • Unexpected!

    Mon, 08 Sep 2014 09:46:14 Permalink
    The traditional day of rest was a busy one for me. I spent most of it fooling around with the first blog entry for my new e-commerce site, Unexpected! - Hope you'll check it out. I think I've tapped into a booming business with a great future. Then I finished wrapping orders from Maritime List 225, then I went across the street to Flatrocks Gallery where Anne Marie and Cynthia have curated a wonderful end-of-the-summer show called “Afloat.” A lovely mixture of painting, collage, and sculpture that evoke the sea. Today's highlight was another splendid garden party (guess who the Read More
  • Labor in Vain

    Tue, 02 Sep 2014 08:52:42 Permalink
    Here's how the mind wanders on a Labor Day weekend...While leafing through a 19thcentury manuscript on naval ordnance I became captivated by two superbly rendered pages of ink drawings illustrating the “Parts of a Rifle.” This got me to thinking about what guns were like two hundred years ago and then, of course, what they are like now, and all the trouble we're having, socially and politically, trying to figure out what to do about them. Everyone has something to say about the matter, and that's part of the problem. We are passionate, polarized, and utterly paralyzed when it comes to Read More
  • Labor in Vain

    Tue, 02 Sep 2014 05:08:40 Permalink
    Here's how the mind wanders on a Labor Day weekend... While leafing through a 19thcentury manuscript on naval ordnance I became captivated by two superbly rendered pages of ink drawings illustrating the “Parts of a Rifle.” This got me to thinking about what guns were like two hundred years ago and then, of course, what they are like now, and all the trouble we're having, socially and politically, trying to figure out what to do about them.Everyone has something to say about the matter, and that's part of the problem. We are passionate, polarized, and utterly paralyzed when it comes to actually Read More
  • Labor in Vain

    Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:18:47 Permalink
    Here's how the mind wanders on a Labor Day weekend...While leafing through a 19thcentury manuscript on naval ordnance I became captivated by two superbly rendered pages of ink drawings illustrating the “Parts of a Rifle.” This got me to thinking about what guns were like two hundred years ago and then, of course, what they are like now, and all the trouble we're having, socially and politically, trying to figure out what to do about them. Everyone has something to say about the matter, and that's part of the problem. We are passionate, polarized, and utterly paralyzed when it comes to Read More
  • Labor in Vain

    Mon, 01 Sep 2014 02:09:57 Permalink
    Here's how the mind wanders on a Labor Day weekend...While leafing through a 19thcentury manuscript on naval ordnance I became captivated by two superbly rendered pages of ink drawings illustrating the “Parts of a Rifle.” This got me to thinking about what guns were like two hundred years ago and then, of course, what they are like now, and all the trouble we're having, socially and politically, trying to figure out what to do about them. Everyone has something to say about the matter, and that's part of the problem. We are passionate, polarized, and utterly paralyzed when it comes to Read More
  • The Wife and Me

    Mon, 25 Aug 2014 04:05:48 Permalink
    Ernest Wessen's letters are a must for aspiring Americana dealersIn his memoir, The Adventures of a Treasure Hunter my idol, Charlie Everitt, refers to his wife as “Mrs. Everitt.” I like the old fashioned formality of that address. Same with Ernest Wessen, the great Midwestern Americanist and author of the legendary series of catalogs called Midland Notes: “Mrs. Wessen and I were returning from a visit to the folks in Maine...” etc. I would very much like to tell you about the trip Mrs. Gibson and I took recently, but when we married she kept her (Irish) family name – Read More
  • A Classy Move

    Sun, 17 Aug 2014 09:42:08 Permalink
    In what I hope is not a trend going forward from the canceled Philadelphia Book Show, exhibitors received word last week through the grapevine that the summer Papermania show in Hartford CT had been called off.In a phone conversation with Gary Gipstein, son of the show's originator Paul Gipstein, Gary said that the managers of the XL Center(the new name for the venue in which the show is traditionally held) were, per their management agreement, making improvements to the building. Gipstein had been notified that this work was coming, and had been assured that it would not conflict with the Read More
  • Middle River, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada, August 9, 2014

    Mon, 11 Aug 2014 07:16:10 Permalink
    Ledyard bleeding out upon the sands of Egypt. Maybe a quick flashback montage of Dartmouth, Captain Cook, John Paul Jones, Jefferson in Paris, those seductive ladies of the night, Joseph Banks, the Nile (“Do you know the river Connecticut? Of all the rivers I have seen it most resembles it in size.”) The sand.But I'm done with that. With Ledyard, too, long before his final, fatal African adventure. Now it feels as if the man had only been an excuse – a typically preposterous one – for dragging myself out of the house into the … what? Well, maybe not “into” Read More
  • Guest Blog

    Sun, 03 Aug 2014 07:27:23 Permalink
    Dawn in my field, sometime last summerI'm on the way up to my field in Cape Breton to work on the last essay about my walk down the Connecticut River, tracing the journey John Ledyard made in 1773, and thinking about America then and America now. The walking can be hard, but writing about it is always harder.Anyway, there's no Internet, or electricity, or running water up there, and not many people either, which is why I go there. So I thought I'd better post this week's blog entry from the comfort of my Comfort Inn in New Glasgow, Nova Read More
  • A Little History

    Sun, 27 Jul 2014 04:56:37 Permalink
    I'm writing from the magnificent pile of stone and anguish known as Chapter 11 Books, situated between a Jiffy Lube and a drive-thru mortuary, and patronized primarily by people who'll have to come back when they've got more time. At the moment I'm wondering how one retires from a trade that most people take up after they retire. No answers are forthcoming. It's beginning to look as if I'll die with my books on.The dream ends. I wake to find myself in a slightly too comfortable chair at the edge of my booth at the Twenty-Fourth, or Twenty-Fifth, or Twenty-Sixth Read More
  • The Novel I Never Wrote

    Sun, 20 Jul 2014 01:33:46 Permalink
    Last month I bought three pamphlets about a murder that took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1830. It was a sensational affair in its day, a victory for prosecutor Daniel Webster, and an interesting sidelight in the history of American jurisprudence. But that was not why I bought the pamphlets.In 1829 William Low of Salem was sent to Canton to manage the affairs of Russell & Co. the great American China Trade firm. He brought his wife along and, to keep her company, his twenty-year-old niece, Harriett Low.Harriett Low, as painted by George ChinneryHappily for posterity, Harriett kept a detailed Read More
  • Actively Engaged in Retirement?

    Sun, 13 Jul 2014 12:07:51 Permalink
    With the commencement of my seventh decade on this planet I occasionally find myself feeling old. I can rarely stay awake past 9 p.m., and I have the sense that my time is growing short, which sometimes makes my temper even shorter. This unfortunate confluence has inspired me to begin compiling a catalog called “Old, Rare, and Short.” Then, last Monday, I put the catalog on the shelf for a few days and headed out to Springfield Massachusetts for the last bit of the Ledyard walk - a 40 mile hike to Hartford Connecticut. (For those of you who have not Read More
  • Collage

    Sun, 06 Jul 2014 08:33:18 Permalink
    PrefaceThis is a book about a walk down the Connecticut River by a man who finds himself getting old, but not too old to walk. The ostensible purpose of his walk is scholarly, dignified, historical - the deconstruction of the legend of John Ledyard, who made a similar journey in 1773. But the walk might also be the man's final attempt to outdistance the "old" that will soon and forever after precede the "man" in reference to himself.     Stubbornly, he chooses to walk the river because John Ledyard (who actually sailed down it in a canoe) won fame for Read More
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