Member Blogs > ten pound island book companyXmas 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 a.m., frantic for bargains on toys. There is nothing in the Bible about getting so stressed out that we can barely be civil to one another, or about dealing with our stress by self-medicating to excess, or lashing out at our nearest and dearest, or about being so harried with money concerns and gift lists that we come to despise this season, in which we should be celebrating the passing of the darkest hour and - some would have it - the birth of a savior.Jesus told us to give to the poor, not to shop till we drop. He told us to love one another. I don't think there's much in the Bible about out of print books, but I'd like to write a parable, or maybe an O'Henry story, about gobbling up Internet bandwidth with variations on the 25% off sale for that “certain someone on your Christmas list.” theme. Sure, some people like to get books for Christmas; and some people, like me, enjoy giving books for Christmas. But I'll bet a vast majority of the book buying public is thoroughly sick of mistletoe draped “Holiday Specials.” (She'd better like cheap books, because that Christmas discount only applies to books under $10.) Or “30% if you buy ten!” (A box of random used books. Just what I wanted!) I suspect that, because book buying is such an intensely personal activity, books as gifts fall flat more often than not. In my brick and mortar retail days, sales were always better after Christmas, when customers had discharged their seasonal obligations and felt free to indulge themselves with a book or books only they knew they wanted.Isn't it odd that we book dealers spend most of the year trying to separate ourselves from the cheesy, crass world of retail widget sales, and then at Christmastime we jump right into it without a second thought? I'm as guilty as anyone. My next catalog is called “A Holiday Sampler.” Aesthetically and intellectually, books might be in a class by themselves, but we're still book sellers, after all.Here's a little something from Maritime List 227 - A Holiday Sampler for that “Certain Someone” on your Christmas list (more likely you than anyone else).Anon.William the Sailor. London: Orlando Hodgson, n.d. (ca. 1840). Eight leaves of hand colored wood engravings, plus printed front wrapper. Young William leaves his stout father, his loving sister, and their farm for Portsmouth and life aboard a man-o-war, despite the father's warnings of a hard times ahead. Sis comes to visit him and they take a side trip to Scotland. Then his ship sinks and "hundreds of people drowned," But William is saved and lives among the "Indians... for many years." Finally he takes a ship home and writes to his sister and father of his adventures. But his ship sinks in a storm and the sister finds William's "cold corpse on the sea shore." 
    So that's what you get, kids, for going off and joining the navy. "Thus we see the fatal effects of disobedience, and rejecting the advice of good and kind parents." With printed front wrapper bound in, giving "a list of [46] large coloured children's books... Many Others in Progress." Scarce, Worldcat showing only three libraries holding copies (It dates this item circa 1840 "inferred from Hodgson's years of activity at 111 Fleet Street address.") All in eight pretty pictures, with patronizing text. A very good copy bound in half blue morocco over marbled boards. From the library of Eugene Field, with his ownership signature.$300

Looks like you are ready to submit this application

If you are satisfied that your application is complete, go ahead and click "submit this application."
Otherwise, click "review this application" to review your answers or make additional changes.