Member Blogs > ten pound island book company

  • On the Transparency of Markets

    Sun, 19 Apr 2015 04:21:19 Permalink
    item #7 - "Etchings of a Whaling Cruise"Before I got married my girlfriend and I adopted a darling little tabby kitten named Nanny. The girlfriend departed and, for logistical reasons, I was granted custody of the kitty. Nanny and I set up housekeeping, and she soon grew up to be not a graceful mommycat, but a nasty, tough, wonderful old tom – the perfect companion for a randy young bachelor. Nanny ruled the neighborhood and often took longer road trips to lands and ladies beyond the boundaries of his kingdom. He'd return from these rambles with an eye puffed shut Read More
  • Glub

    Mon, 13 Apr 2015 12:14:25 Permalink
    In the week leading up to this year's New York International Antiquarian Book Fair, and its two “shadow” fairs, I'd been in a state of preternatural excitement. Two promoters - Marvin Getman of Impact Events Group and John and Tina Bruno of Flamingo Eventz – were going head to head for supremacy in the satellite book fair market. First Getman crashed the Bruno's turf by scheduling a rival New York shadow show, then the Brunos trumped Getman by moving their shadow show to a new location just across Lexington Ave. from the big show at the Park Avenue Armory. Cold Read More
  • That's Why I Love My Job...

    Mon, 06 Apr 2015 08:09:16 Permalink
    Okay. Hang on to your hats. Here comes the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair, presented by the ABAA. This is the Big Leagues, baby. The World Series of Book. From Thursday night through Sunday afternoon at the Park Avenue Armory, we'll be keeping company with some of the world's finest books and manuscripts – mindbogglingly rare and valuable items - sought by collectors of inestimable wealth (those unspeakably rich folks obvious to all but known by name only to Bill Reese, Don Heald, and their Continental cohorts); representatives of Institutions of Higher Learning whose annual budgets exceed those of Read More
  • Carried Away

    Thu, 02 Apr 2015 06:10:18 Permalink
    Clipper Ship *****People tend to get carried away by the romance of old books and paper, and it's easy to see why. The thrill of the hunt, the joys discovery, and the marvelous stories locked up in dusty old letters, journals, and books provide a perfect escape – an antidote to the stresses of our daily lives. Unfortunately, overworked librarians and book dealers often find that their interaction with books and manuscripts devolves into an insistent time/money proposition. As much as we'd like to linger over an ancient text, or just sit down and read the damned thing, we've got Read More
  • A Humanist Take

    Sun, 29 Mar 2015 06:15:49 Permalink
    Colleague Mike Buehler of Boston Rare Maps  just sent me a link to a fascinating article on modern uses and readings of nineteenth century ship's logs– (dig the YouTube videos of whale ship passages over time!) by a very cool guy named Ben Schmidt at Northeastern University. As near as I can make out, the writer argues for, and explains, the digital application of statistics compiled from ships' logs and journals. From these results he posits a discipline in which the traditional “humanist” reading of such materials would be altered. Yes, it sounds complicated. Perhaps I should let him explain Read More
  • Mon, 23 Mar 2015 11:13:08 Permalink
    What could be more fun than spending two days pouring over old magazines, pamphlets, prints, letters, diaries, photos,advertising, account books, political fliers and broadsides, trade cards, baseball cards, posters, menus, valentines, historical documents, song sheets and songsters, alphabets, juveniles and primers, post cards, labels, stock certificates, passports and old newspapers – to name only a few?If your answer is “Nothing!” you needed to be at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Greenwich, CT this weekend, for the 35th annual Conference and Paper Show of the Ephemera Society of America.The theme this year was “The Sporting Life” and conference organizers provided a full slate of sports Read More
  • Carried Away

    Mon, 16 Mar 2015 11:03:29 Permalink
    Clipper Ship CometPeople tend to get carried away by the romance of old books and paper, and it's easy to see why. The thrill of the hunt, the joys discovery, and the marvelous stories locked up in dusty old letters, journals, and books provide a perfect escape – an antidote to the stresses of our daily lives. Unfortunately, overworked librarians and book dealers often find that their interaction with books and manuscripts devolves into an insistent time/money proposition. As much as we'd like to linger over an ancient text, or just sit down and read the damned thing, we've got Read More
  • Frozen

    Mon, 09 Mar 2015 09:42:22 Permalink
    Key Bridge and Frozen PotomacAlong with robins and daylight savings time, the Washington Antiquarian Book Fair is the harbinger of spring. In the old days, I'd drive down to the house of my friends who run Bartleby's Books, park my car in their driveway, and take a long, pleasant, shirtsleeved walk down Wisconsin Avenue to their shop in Georgetown, delighting in forsythias, daffodils, and short dresses along the way. But their shop has been closed for four years, and it's a good thing, too. Their business is thriving at home, and I would have needed skis to make the walk Read More
  • Back in the Saddle

    Fri, 27 Feb 2015 05:23:15 Permalink
    As my sojourn at writers camp in Ireland comes to an end I find my thoughts turning back to the book trade. In particular, a recent article in the Boston Globe about the planned sale of a collection of rare books that had been bequeathed to a local institution, Gordon College, with the proviso that the collection remain intact and stay at the college. Now the college, in a fundraising effort, has decided to send the books to auction at Doyle Gallery in New York, and they've run into a storm of protest from the family of the donor and Read More
  • Fred Rosselot

    Mon, 23 Feb 2015 05:31:39 Permalink
    While in Ireland and out of the book world, I've been posting chapters from a story I'm working on. (See entries below.) The story is set in the town of Talman, a fictional iteration of Nyack, NY, one of the stops on my book route for decades. One of my favorite guys in Nyack is Fred Rosselot, a lovely guy with a sharp mind and a sharper eye for books - with which he filled his house.This past weekend, Fred was severely injured in a fire which destroyed his house and his entire stock.For details go to https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6wjd6Presumably the ABAA Read More
  • Chapter IV

    Sun, 22 Feb 2015 03:19:00 Permalink
    Jerry is making a Manhattan on the rocks for Mister Windle. He pours the frothing liquid from the shaker into the glass where it settles to amber with hints of yellow, scarlet, and blue from the reflection of the Christmas lights strung above the bar. No cherry. Mister Windle is a Brit and has an accent, but he's turned out to be a good guy despite the way he sounds - which, afterall, isn't his fault - genuinely interested in Americans and things American. He’d introduced himself three years ago as, “Windle, John Windle” and Jerry, just to see what Read More
  • Not Coming to a Theater Near You Anytime Soon

    Mon, 16 Feb 2015 03:59:30 Permalink
     II Kelly shambles out of his living quarters as if he’d been hibernating there. He’s dressed, but might have slept in his clothes. Needs a shave. Jarkey, who also needs a shave, is sitting at one of the two desks in the front office, pecking the typewriter, scowling at the article he’s writing about Radio Row, the Lower West Side neighborhood recently obliterated to clear the way for the new World Trade Center. He’s wondering if anyone cares. The whole place was a rathole anyway. Kelly sits at the other desk, rummages through the top drawer, finds a packet of Read More
  • Used Books of the Future that Never Made it to the Future

    Sun, 08 Feb 2015 02:09:33 Permalink
    Spent the weekend on Sherkin Island, where our Irish friends Kathy and Mike have some family property that they're developing into an event center.  It's beautiful here, in the rugged but calm way that typifies so much of the Irish coast. Lovely scenery, good friends, and plenty of excellent food, drink, laughter, and talk. It's easy to think of this place as its own kind of paradise. But this morning, as I was looking out over the water back toward the town of Skibbereen,I remembered the proposal I wrote in 2004 for a non-fiction book about Ireland that presented quite a Read More
  • Super Bowl Sunday

    Mon, 02 Feb 2015 08:02:01 Permalink
    Super Bowl didn't start until 11:30 pm in Ireland, so there was plenty of time for an afternoon walk up Mt. Clara in County Cork. The game itself was surreal.Al and Chris frequently interrupted by Irish presenters with little feel for the game, and, strangely, no Super Bowl commercials! Instead we got the usual round of cheesy Irish ads for Lucozade, phone sex (the dial-in number ended 69-69-69) and Budweiser, which these people think is a fancy imported beer. A nation of savages!Guess that's why I love it here.The contest was one of the best in years. The weird circus catch Read More
  • Super Bowl Sunday

    Mon, 02 Feb 2015 05:53:06 Permalink
    Super Bowl didn't start until 11:30 pm in Ireland, so there was plenty of time for an afternoon walk up Mt. Clara in County Cork. The game itself was surreal.Al and Chris frequently interrupted by Irish presenters with little feel for the game, and, strangely, no Super Bowl commercials! Instead we got the usual round of cheesy Irish ads for Lucozade, phone sex (the dial-in number ended 69-69-69) and Budweiser, which these people think is a fancy imported beer. A nation of savages!Guess that's why I love it here.The game itself was one of the best in years. The weird circus Read More
  • Chapter I. Dicky's Dream

    Mon, 26 Jan 2015 12:06:03 Permalink
    He'd been having a dream; one of those turgid, anxious dreams you might get from eating too much before going to bed. In the dream he'd been sitting in a car with his family watching an exciting basketball game. Then he realized it was 5:50, leaving him only a little more than an hour to get to his hotel uptown and then get back down to meet his friends. He said his goodbyes and began to leave, then remembered he'd forgotten his suitcase, which was not much bigger than a big briefcase. It had a zippered pouch in front and Read More
  • Mon, 19 Jan 2015 04:33:41 Permalink
    The Emerald Isle had a surprise for me when I arrived. Read More
  • Same Old, Same Old..

    Mon, 12 Jan 2015 07:51:27 Permalink
    Same old white knuckle whiteout snowstorm drive down I-84 Friday morning. Same old cold and gray Hartford. Same old dank concrete basement, with its toxic lights, slushy galoshes, weary porters, and slightly bewildered staff. Same old dealers. Same old customers. At least some of the paper was new. In all the years I've been exhibiting at Papermania in January in Hartford, Connecticut, the scene has hardly changed at all. If you were to compare an image of booth 92 taken on Sunday, January 11, 2015 with an image taken at the same booth in any other year between now and 1988, Read More
  • Home of the Camel

    Mon, 05 Jan 2015 04:44:39 Permalink
    Every winter I pay a visit to The Camel. This distinguished dromedary lives on a balcony in a huge steel and concrete structure reminiscent of an airplane hangar. He is tended by kindly old men in funny hats who prefer to do good things for sick children rather than just sit around and drink and tell bad jokes and tired stories. Or, they do good things for sick children AND sit around and drink and tell bad jokes and tired stories. I'm speaking, of course, of the Shriner's Auditorium just off Interstate 93 in Wilmington Mass. Every year, in this venue, promoter Read More
  • Home of the Camel

    Mon, 05 Jan 2015 03:13:42 Permalink
    Every winter I pay a visit to The Camel. This distinguished dromedary lives on a balcony in a huge steel and concrete structure reminiscent of an airplane hangar. He is tended by kindly old men in funny hats who prefer to do good things for sick children rather than just sit around and drink and tell bad jokes and tired stories. Or, they do good things for sick children AND sit around and drink and tell bad jokes and tired stories. I'm speaking, of course, of the Shriner's Auditorium just off Interstate 93 in Wilmington Mass. Every year, in this venue, promoter Read More
  • Used Books of the Future (continued)

    Mon, 29 Dec 2014 01:35:02 Permalink
    Years ago a colleague named Owen Kubiksent me an enigmatic manuscript. After considerable headscratching I determined it was the journal of a young naval officer sent to the Pacific to capture a sociopath who had committed murder and mutiny on the whaleship Globe. We sold it to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and felt quite pleased with ourselves.Then it occurred to me that this manuscript would be an excellent frame for a new non-fiction book about the gory events aboard the Globe.Owing to the unexpected success of Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea, there was a bull market for Read More
  • Venting and Flogging

    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 04:26:11 Permalink
    Rant alert. If the pressures of the Holiday Season have left you feeling a mite tetchy, you are advised to skip directly to the interesting offerings at the end of this essay.My annual gift issue of the magazine Sea History arrived this week. They send it free every Christmas to former subscribers, with an advertising supplement attached. This year the supplement was from A.G.A. Correa, a company that sells cute gold stuff to wear around your neck or wrist – lighthouses, seagulls, clam shells, rope knots, sailboats. Prices range from hundreds to mid-thousands. Hey, it's 14K gold.Ten Pound Island Book Read More
  • 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
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