Member Blogs > ten pound island book company

  • 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
  • Not Again

    Sun, 28 Jul 2013 10:18:41 Permalink
    On this weekend for three years running I have blogged about the very pleasant Book Fair at the Castle. This event  is produced by Bernice Bornstein and is held at the Dewey Castle in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The setting is idyllic. The hours are merciful. My colleagues are excellent company. The crowds are small but cheerful. They buy a little, I buy a little. Then I drive home.I am not going to blog about it this year. Im tired of repeating myself. Instead, Id like to try out a draft of the beginning of a chapter called Paper City. It is Read More
  • Not Again

    Sun, 28 Jul 2013 02:59:24 Permalink
    On this weekend for three years running I have blogged about the very pleasant Book Fair at the Castle. This event  is produced by Bernice Bornstein and is held at the Dewey Castle in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The setting is idyllic. The hours are merciful. My colleagues are excellent company. The crowds are small but cheerful. They buy a little, I buy a little. Then I drive home.I am not going to blog about it this year. Im tired of repeating myself. Instead, Id like to try out a draft of the beginning of a chapter called Paper City. It is Read More
  • Arachnophobia

    Mon, 22 Jul 2013 12:34:43 Permalink
    My sister-in-law and I have always enjoyed arguing. Not about big stuff, you understand. Just petty, nit-picky arguments to liven up the sleepy time following one of her terrific Saturday dinners. Is North Dakota a blue or a red state? Does a hurricane spin clockwise or counterclockwise? That sort of thing. With no solid factual basis for an answer at hand, youve got to rely on your wits to defend your position. Its excellent exercise after a big meal, sort of like taking a walk.Then, a few years ago, she got a smart phone. Wed be in the midst of Read More
  • The House Call

    Mon, 15 Jul 2013 11:44:52 Permalink
    The house call is one of the of the most exciting parts of the used book business.Its a thrilling experience, a rite of passage into the trade. A member of the public thinks so highly of your skills as a book maven, (or your status as a cash cow), that they invite you into their private space to examine, and make an offer on, their books. You get to walk around pronouncing on the current state of the market, on whats hot and whats not, all the while maintaining an ingratiating stream of patter that, you hope, will convince the Read More
  • Hors d'oeuvres and Analytics

    Mon, 08 Jul 2013 10:18:20 Permalink
    This is my favorite time of year. Summer is in full swing and the Tour de France - that 2000 mile three week bicycle ramble through the mountains, fields and vineyards of France - is well underway. I structure my mornings around the event. Yard work house painting, and book work in the sweltering July heat for thirty minute intervals, with breaks of ten minutes in front of the TV in the only air conditioned room in the house. Sometimes, as the morning progresses, time in front of the TV stretches out.I dont quite know how I got addicted to the spectacle. It is, as Read More
  • Wily Mammals

    Tue, 02 Jul 2013 07:15:50 Permalink
    Im no star on the lecture circuit, but a few invitations come in every year and always take them up if I can. Its good publicity for my books. And I usually get a free meal. Sometimes they even pay me.When Gone Boy came out I did a lot of gigs talking about gun control. I talked about whaling for Demon of the Waters,and about Diane Arbus and issues of authentication and valuation for my book Huberts Freaks. Over the past year, however, Ive been talking about changes in the publishing business since my first interaction with it in the 1970s. Its a fascinating Read More
  • Wiley Mammals

    Sun, 30 Jun 2013 02:21:39 Permalink
    Im no star on the lecture circuit, but a few invitations come in every year and always take them up if I can. Its good publicity for my books. And I usually get a free meal. Sometimes they even pay me.When Gone Boy came out I did a lot of gigs talking about gun control. I talked about whaling for Demon of the Waters,and about Diane Arbus and issues of authentication and valuation for my book Huberts Freaks. Over the past year, however, Ive been talking about changes in the publishing business since my first interaction with it in the 1970s. Its a fascinating Read More
  • Coffee Break or Cocktail Hour?

    Mon, 24 Jun 2013 02:57:09 Permalink
    Got off the Londonflight late Thursday night. Mowed my lawn and did my wash on Friday, then flew out to Minneapolison Saturday. So is it coffee break or cocktail hour?Cocktail hour. At chez Rulon-Miller, anyway. Spent a wonderful Saturday night with the dean of Minnesotabook dealers, Rob Rulon-Miller, and colleagues Nina Musinsky and John Hellebrand, engaging in urbane and witty banter in Robs wonderful library.The reason for this convocation goes beyond banter. We are gathered here for the Dealers Showcase at the Rare Book and Manuscript Librarians Conference, held this year in downtown Minneapolis. This collision of worlds librarian Read More
  • Malton's Views

    Sat, 15 Jun 2013 07:21:36 Permalink
    One of the things I love about this business is the way it stays fresh. Just when you think youve seen it all, another surprise comes along.Last summer I purchased a scarce color plate book. I know, color plates books arent my thing. But this one had Irish interest, and I was pretty sure I could flog it. I put it in catalog 213 described as follows:Malton, James. A PICTURESQUE AND DESCRIPTIVE VIEW OF THE CITY OF DUBLINDISPLAYED IN A SERIES OF THE MOST INTERESTING SCENES TAKEN IN THE YEAR 1791.   Lon.  n.d.  b/w and handcolored engravings. Oblong folio, unpaginated Read More
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