Summer 2007 (Vol. VIII, No. 3) Table of Contents
- From the Editor
- Appraising for Booksellers
- An Interview with Donald Hawthorne of Noah’s Ark Book Attic
- “Meet Me in St. Louis,” or, A Book Dealer’s Travels to the Gateway to the West
- Ephemeral Assays: Face Cards
- Book Expo America 2007: “It’s About People and Books”
- Pros and Cons of Alibris.com for Buyers and Sellers
- Craig Horle and Laurie Wolfe of Classic Books and Ephemera
- Nancy Johnson, Bookseller, Denver, CO
- Brian Cassidy, Bookseller, Monterey, CA
- Ye Olde Booksellers : Adventures in American Bookshops, Antique Stores and Auction Rooms
Excerpts from recent online book descriptions.
-Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Acceptable. Heavy edge and cover wear, some faux stains, inside great!!
-Corners bumped, Spine worn at top and bottom with teat at center.
-Book Condition: Good. No Jacket. 4to – over 9 3/4″ – 12″ Tall. 407 pp. For years 1907, 1908, 1909. All the main color plates have been cut out of book; also, a few pages are loose from binding. Spine cocked, some soil to covers; edge & corner wear. Ex-lib w/stamps to front & rear endpapers.
-At some point in book’s peregrinations, a phoney three dollar bill was laid-in.
-Included are a bit of ephemera: A page from the magazine Tops, advertising the 1940 P. C. A. M. Convention July 21 to 27, 1940 (Pacific Coast Assoc. of Magicians?). an unidentified snapshot of two males who one must but asume are muscians and an 8 by 10 sepia half-tone photograph inscribed To Bob Hammer with best wishes from Oscar and his stooge George “Quiver Lip” McAthy, 1944.
Book ‘em, Danno
Ioba is one of the 45 provinces of Burkina Faso in West Africa. The capital of Ioba is Dano, almost as in “Book ‘em, Danno” from the classic TV series Hawaii Five-O. IOBA, the Independent Online Booksellers Association, sells books. Coincidence? Probably.
Notorious C.O.P. by Derrick Parker with Matt Diehl (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2006) features a simulated bullet hole on the front panel of the dust jacket. The entry point is very smooth, but the automobile or recording studio glass it penetrated feels fractured to the touch, like it was real. The three brownish blood drops are also embossed. I contacted St. Martin’s Press with some questions about the process involved, the design spec language used, and the additional printing cost, but nobody got back to me.
From the front inside flap.
“As head of the first special force unit devoted exclusively to the investigation of hip-hop crime, first-grade [that seems awfully young] detective Derrick Parker worked on some of the biggest criminal cases in rap history. From the shooting at Club New York to the murder of Tupac Shakur, Derrick was on the inside of hip-hop’s most notorious crimes.
“Always straddling the fence between “po-po” [gangsta slang for cop] and NYPD outsider, Derrick threatened police tradition to try to get the cases solved. He was the first New York detective on the Biggie Smalls’ [why the apostrophe?] murder and discovered shocking and never-before-revealed information from an unlikely informant. He protected one of the only surviving eyewitnesses to the Jam Master Jay murder and knows the identities of the killers as well as the motivation behind the shooting.
“Notorious C.O.P. reveals hip-hop crimes that never made the papers—like the robbing of Foxy Brown [hold the press!] and the first Hot 97 shooting—and answers some lingering questions about murders that have remained unsolved.
“The book that both the NYPD and the hip-hop community don’t want you to read, Notorious C.O.P. is the first insider look at the real links between crime and hip-hop and the inefficiencies that have left some of the most widely publicized murders in entertainment history unsolved.”
From the rear inside flap.
“Derrick Parker is a twenty-year veteran of the NYPD who headed the first special force unit dedicated to the investigation of hip-hop-related crime. Now off the force, Parker serves as the media’s rap-related crime expert, appearing in Rolling Stone, New York magazine, Vibe, Blender, The New York Times, Newsday, and dozens of other magazines and newspapers as well as on Unsolved Mysteries and shows on MTV, Fox, VH1, and Court TV.
“Matt Diehl is a journalist whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Washington Post, GQ, VIBE [they went with all caps in this second mention of Vibe, probably under the influence ofGQ’s caps], Spin, The Village Voice, and Blender [not to be confused with Spin]. He served as the music columnist for Elle magazine for four years and now serves as the music editor-at-large for Interviewmagazine. His first book was No-Fall Snowboarding.”
From the rear panel (busy cop’s desk motif, blurbs on typescript sheet with coffee cup and stain rings, crumpled up piece of yellow legal paper, folders and pads underneath).
“Yeah, you know me. I’m the guy The Miami Herald called the ‘hip-hop cop’ when they ran a story about the [really big] binder I’d compiled for the NYPD detailing the criminal history of over nine hundred hip-hop artists and associates. Yeah, that was me.
“In my duties as NYPD’s hip-hop cop, I investigated some of the biggest names in music. The Club New York shooting involving Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, Shyne, and Jennifer Lopez, I was there. The Hot 97 shooting that Lil’ Kim is now serving time for—who do you think they called on? [The hip-hop cop?] Cases involving the Wu-Tang Clan, 50 Cent, Nas, DMX, Foxy Brown—I worked them all. [Foxy Brown’s Wikipedia entry includes eight “Legal run-ins” for such offenses as spitting on two hotel workers in Raleigh who could or would not provide an iron; crashing her Range Rover; an altercation with an airport policewoman in Jamaica; attacking two manicurists in Chelsea over a disputed bill; getting handcuffed to a bench for fifteen minutes on order of a Manhattan judge until she agreed to apologize to the court for sticking her tongue out when asked to stop chewing gum; throwing hair glue at and spitting on a Broward County beauty parlor employee who told her it was closing time, and swatting at the arms of the police officer who tried to escort her from the shopping plaza back to the salon; and a couple of minor court violations.]
“As a rookie detective, I patrolled the mean streets of Brooklyn and Queens. I was involved in one of the first cases that would bust drug impresarios Kenneth ‘Supreme’ McGriff, Lorenzo ‘Fat Cat’ Nichols, and Howard ‘Pappy’ Mason.
“I spent years learning and investigating hip-hop on both sides of the fence. [Several paragraphs ago he said he was “straddling” the fence—two different things.] I know the people behind the music and the people they mythologize. There have been numerous books exploring the murders of Tupac, Biggie, and now Jam Master Jay, but as I am the original ‘hip-hop cop,’ no one has ever been where I’ve been, seen what I’ve seen, or knows what I know—and now I’m laying it all out on the line.”
At the end of the day, I am confused by this dust jacket. Is glorified crime and violence good or bad? If the author knows who was behind big unsolved hip-hop murders, why are they still unsolved? Is Fox News more righteous than the NYPD? Maybe it’s a good book and an important contribution to the history of rap, and the author had nothing to do with all this hype. Either way, that’s what libraries are for.
The Blog of Brian Cassidy, Bookseller
“24 Hours in the Life of a Used Book”
I always have mixed feelings when a book I care about is chosen by Oprah for her book club (The Corrections, House of Sand and Fog, Night, East of Eden, Light in August…). On the one hand, I like that good books get read and that reading as a pastime is endorsed on such a mass level. These are undeniably good things. At the same time, I always fear some author debacle (see James Frey or Jonathan Franzen) or worry that in the meeting of mass culture and fine literature, the latter ends up the loser. I’m thinking of moments like when on an early Oprah book club episode one woman complained to Toni Morrison that she had trouble understanding some passages and found herself needing to review. “Yes, my dear,” Morrison replied in her imperious tone, “We call that READING.”
And now, on the day she snagged Cormac McCarthy’s only TV interview ever, Oprah had anointed Jeffrey Eugenides’ Pulitzer-winning novel, Middlesex. I had a couple copies in stock at the shop, so when I heard of the selection I headed over to Amazon to see what was happening with the online price and decide if I should bother listing my copies. Though at first it appeared not much was going on, as the above chart demonstrates (click to enlarge), the power of Oprah is not to be underestimated. Oprah single-handedly cut the number of available used copies by more than half (from 375 to about 160) and nearly tripled the asking price (from $2.88 to $7.50), all in a scant 24 hours.
A few clarifications: First, this data is for the “old” trade paperback edition only (as opposed to the new “Oprah” edition). Second, that plummeting price for new copies represents the fact that Amazon sold out of the “old” edition (demonstrated by the fact they say copies will ship in “1-3 weeks”). Third, note the impressive jump in sales rank (500 or so to 17).
Made in IOBA
Elizabeth Svendsen of Blue Jacket Books is co-author, with her father (and under her maiden name) of The Sorcerer’s Companion, A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter(NY: Broadway Books, 2001; 2004 second edition), by Allan Zola Kronzek and Elizabeth Kronzek.
The Dignity of the Bookseller’s Calling
Submitted by Rockford E. Toews (http://www.backcreekbooks.com)
Block and Tackle
I seem to have the only online copy of the improbably titled Nine Lives on Four Coasts: Autobiography/Confession/Love Story of an Educational Administrator, by Byron F. Evans (Urbana, IL: Prairie Publications, 2004 first edition. Signed and warmly inscribed by the author. $35.00). I received the following IOBAbooks query about this offering.
-3/16/2007 12:10 A.M. Customer inquiry: Hi, How are you today? and how are you doing? I am interested in this book, let me know the last price you are willing to sell it, and also let me know if you accept check as form of payment, I could have called you but it was unfortunate that I’m hearing Impaired. I am looking forward to read from you, David Block.email@example.com
-3/16/2007 1:28 A.M. If you would like to order this book, I accept payment by check, money order, PayPal, or credit card. The total comes to $38.00, to include Media Mail shipping. If you email me your confirmation and method of payment now, I can prepare the book for shipping.
-3/16/2007 10:11 A.M. Hi Shawn, Thanks for your email, I am okay with your price, please let me know if pickup is acceptable. I am looking forward to read from you.
-3/16/2007 12:07 P.M. Sorry but pickup is not convenient for me.
[At this point, somebody on the IOBA Discuss list mentioned a similar scam, and we all learned that this same technique was previously attempted against Biblio booksellers. What makes this a bit different is that he chooses titles you actually own, and then sets up a transaction where you get a bogus check for a larger amount and must send him a refund before his “shipper” comes to your business or home in order to pick the book up. It is clumsy, but particularly offensive enough for me to respond, as he had my email address anyway.]
-3/18/2007 11:21 A.M. Sorry but it looks like the book you ordered is out of stock. I thought you might be interested in an alternative to this work. It is titled A Biographical Encyclopedia of Pathetic Lowlifes. Just send me a check for a larger amount, and I will send a refund to wherever you say.
-3/19/2007 6:20 A.M. Thanks for your email, I am okay with your price, please let me know if pickup is acceptable. I am looking forward to read from you.
-3/19/2007 4:49 P.M. Read my previous message again, moron.
-3/20/2007 5:29 A.M. Yes, I know. I am intersted in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Pathetic Lowlifes. I just want to know if pickup is acceptable. I am looking forward to read from you, Thank You.
-3/20/2007 8:21 P.M. Yes, pickup is acceptable. The total is $38.00. Do you live near me?
-3/20/2007 9:55 P.M. Hi. The check I’ll send you will be in excess amount, the amount I’ll write on the check will be higher than the amount to demand for, so the amount written on the check will contains my shipper’s funds. So when it clears your bank deduct your funds, and wire the balance to my shipper to enable him pickup the book from your territory. If you are okay by this arrangement, kindly get back to me with your name, address and phone number so that I can write the check asap. Thank You.
-3/20/2007 10:00 P.M. How much higher than $38.00 will your check be?
-3/29/2007 9:39 P.M. Hello Shawn, Have you received the check?
-3/29/2007 9:57 P.M. Hi again David. I haven’t been to the Post Office recently, as it is a long journey from my village, but plan to do so shortly. Please let me know how much over $38.00 it is. What amount did you write the check for? Thanks.
-4/19/2007 12:41 A.M. I have been to my post office and there is no check there from you. Do you still want to order this book? If not, I would like to take it off hold in case anybody else wants it. Please let me know as soon as possible. Thank you.
-4/19/2007 8:28 P.M. I am sorry for the late response, I was not filling fine, but I am okay now. please I would need a mailing address, rather than post office box. I will send the check first thing tommorow morning. I am looking forward to read from you.
-4/19/2007 8:28 P.M. Sorry but we only have a Post Office box.
-4/19/2007 8:46 P.M. Okay I’ll send it there tommorow morning. Thank You.
-4/28/2007 12:12 P.M. Hi, have you received the check?
-5/2/2007 8:37 P.M. No. Does your mother know what you do for a living?
-5/3/2007 12:06 A.M. why do you said so?
-5/3/2007 12:41 A.M. Because you (“David Block/Tom Grant”) are a well known scammer who cheats people out of their hard-earned money by lying to them. Most Biblio and IOBAbooks booksellers know better than to send you payment for the “shipper’s funds” difference between the actual cost of the book and the big bad check you send them. First of all this is a really stupid way to try and cheat people, though apparently some are fooled or you wouldn’t still be doing it, and secondly we have all shared your emails and discussed your methods. Chances are your mother would be ashamed of this behavior. Get a real and honest job, before it is too late.
[At this point, our online correspondence comes to an end.]
Pub Sale Tale by Bruce Tober
I’ve become something of a hermit in the past couple of months. Takes all I can do to leave the flat and usually only manage to do so 2 or 3 times a week for a couple or 3 hours each.
Today was one of those days. Took til about 10am to force myself out the door. While walking to the bus tried to decide on where to go. Finally got to the bus stop and decided on taking the 451 route. That left me with 3 choices, village 1, town or village 2. By the time we got to village 1 I decided I’d not been there in quite a while so might as well.
Stopped in at each of the 4 or 5 charity shops and found nothing (not surprising, they’ve had nothing but pretty new take on holiday books for a couple of years). So I stopped for a Guinness (hadn’t had breakfast, let alone lunch yet). I immediately recognised the pub. It was where I bought a load of books (from one of their rooms, the decor of which is Edwardian library) last year.
I talked to the manager and made the arrangements, which he was totally amenable to.
I walked out having finished my Guinness, with about 30 books. I gave the manager £20 (later found out that I’d actually given him a £10 by mistake) which he was more than happy with.
I’ve only checked two of the books so far (each bought for about £0.30) and one’s going to list for £60 (first edition of a physics book by the 1924 Nobel Prize for Physics recipient) and the other one’s going to list for about £40 (a Mrs Beeton’s Every-Day Cookery from the 1930s).
And many of the others look likely to make a very nice price.
Damn! I love this business.
Submitted by Bruce Tober (http://www.star-dot-star.net)
My 1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager ceased to exist a couple months back, at least in the form I was familiar with. We were having overheating problems with both vehicles, and the original dealership thought the Voyager only needed a new thermostat and water pump. Monroe Muffler (our garage of choice) previously detected the need for a vastly more expensive head gasket job, but they are not allowed to work on engines. When the repair did not solve the overheating problem, I just took it easy on the van for a few days, topping it off with coolant between eruptions until we had the time and funds to deal with this. The Subaru going to my daughter just received a new head gasket of its own, plus all new brakes and tires, and we were in the process of buying a new vehicle to replace it, so the timing was not good.
Anyway, I was a couple towns away taking my mother to McDonald’s when the guy at Window Two looked down and exclaimed, “Holy Crap!” Detecting steam coming up from the engine, I pulled back to the fairly remote and empty parking lot we eat in when visiting this establishment, in order to deal with the problem there. Stepping out of the vehicle, I noticed blistering hood metal, which is never a good sign. At about this time I also realized that the steam was actually smoke. Raising my hood with some caution, there was a nice little engine fire going on down there, on the driver and battery side.
The Number 10 Filet-O-Fish sandwich meal comes with a big ass Coke, which I carefully poured down on the conflagration, and although it was largely quelled, it’s pretty hard to put out burning rubber and oily engine parts, and it licked back up again right quick. Mom’s smaller Coke and two bottles of spring water were also put to use, to no avail. I considered driving my flaming van back to McDonald’s in order to borrow their fire extinguisher, but saving Mom’s life and calling 911 seemed the better plan. Beating on the now fully involved engine with a wet packing sheet while waiting for the police and fire trucks, I realized that emptying the vehicle of anything I ever wanted to see again probably made more sense, and when that was done we waited pretty far away in case it blew. Long story short, it took two police extinguishers and a fire pumper to cool things off, and we had a nice quiet five minutes to eat our cold food (with no drinks) between the departure of the authorities and the arrival of the wife and tow truck.
The Allstate adjustor was sympathetic to my plight, but he could not help prove that faulty repairs led to the fire, as all the evidence was in one molten mass. The dealership was very quick to deny any culpability, though they were kind enough to let it sit there for a few days earning storage fees. $2,500 plus change was the best he could do, which is not that bad for a 1997 with 130,000 miles. I visited the old girl a few days later to drop off the seats (an extra $150 for that) and to pick up a parking lot hang tag missed in the sweep, and they actually had to cut a rectangle in the hood in order to gain access. All this was sad, as we’d spent so much time together.
So I halfheartedly looked for a replacement until a Monday morning was coming up where three of us would need to go to work in three different directions with one vehicle. I’d been holding out for a slightly newer model of the same van. The Plymouth Grand Voyager and her sister the Dodge Grand Caravan were the bookseller’s vehicle of choice for awhile there. I remember doing book shows where the parking lot during setup looked like a Plymouth dealership. The sliding doors are great, it can hold an enormous amount of books, and if you do antiques as well it will accommodate a ten foot dining room table and still close in the back. I even wanted the same color, metallic pearl green with the grey interior. After several weeks of near misses and jamming book call booty and large items like a free roadside down-filled sofa worth $500 into the small Subaru, I finally found one online, though the dealership was about ninety miles away in Brattleboro, VT. It was a 1999 with only 84,000 miles, and it even had a CD player! They wanted $5,000 and settled for $4,500. The closest I came to that was several 1999s and 2000s with about 120,000 miles in the $3,000-$4,000 range, so the price seemed pretty good.
We were also rafting the Upper Delaware River and bringing my daughter to Longwood Gardens in PA for a year long paid internship all in a five day period, so time was short. Route 9 through the Green Mountains of Vermont is spectacular, and although we couldn’t peruse a great looking bookstore in Wilmington, we did take a lemonade moment to look down from the bridge at a couple of large trout patrolling crystal clear waters, one on each side, unless it was a single example just messing with our heads, though I would be the last to ascribe certain human qualities to beasts, be they rough or smooth. I had the assurance of Mark’s Motors that this van was in great shape, that it would pass a routine day-of-sale internal inspection with no problems, and that the entire transaction would only take twenty minutes. Needless to say, it didn’t go down quite that way. Their small service department found it needed rear brakes and a new tire (no extra charge), and there were other inefficiencies. We killed time by having a wonderful marina lunch under bright blue skies, and then fully exploring progressive downtown Brattleboro (funniest sight: a children’s store T-shirt with the image of Bush and the caption “President Poopy Head”). From the low parking space we found, I looked upward toward the fringing mountains and saw a large yellow banner way up on the back of a building that read, “75,000 Used Books,” so bingo off we went scaling the sidewalk heights of lower Brattleboro off on our own quests.
A few twists and turns later I entered Brattleboro Books, which I now know to be the largest used bookstore in southern Vermont. I spent a half hour poking around, and would have needed another to look for the modest topics and authors I collect in such stores (turn-of-the-century journalism, Harry A. Franck upgrades, etc.); or those that I can easily resell locally if the price is right (Catskill Mountain railroad lines, etc.). It has just the right combination of jumble, organization, coziness, and what appears to be new arrivals in boxes. Serendipity too. Down in the basement, a big red copy of Marlboro Music Programs 1951-1984 caught my eye, and a perfectly pressed Monarch butterfly was laid inside.
The highlight of the visit was a chat with co-proprietor Ellen Tenney. We shared some booksellerish sentiments and she allowed me to take a few pictures. I told her about my green Voyager and she pointed to hers parked right outside. I would link to a very nice article on the Tenneys that appeared in the 1/1/2007 Vermont Business Magazine, but it pulsates with too much garish advertising, so google it if you want. I see Rachel Ray slurping a Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee in one of those ads, by the way. She got her start in my area with little food spots on the local news, and Ellen mentioned that the now famous Rachel Ray did a piece from Brattleboro Books for her show. I apologized for not buying anything, though I did pick up a small photography book on Vermont dogs in one of the other three local bookstores Brattleboro strongly supports.
I’d like to say the Plymouth Grand Voyager saga ended well, but I don’t know yet. We had lots to do at home before the close of the business day, so I made the unorthodox arrangement of making the return trip the actual test drive. Some things don’t feel quite right, like the brakes, the two back seats shake more than they should (though they will rarely be in anyway), and I’m hoping the smell I detect is only Armor All and not cigarettes. I usually buy new, to avoid cooties and the time and expense of constant repairs. The CARFAX report they coughed up shows this started off as a rental in Michigan, and I am the fourth owner, which is not the uncheckered past I envisioned when chatting with the sales rep on the phone. It looks great (nearly new) for its age though, the CD player is sweet, and it’s so nice to see the temperature gauge right in the middle where it belongs. (When A. J.’s SUV caught on fire in the recent series finale of The Sopranos I had a bad flashback, and I don’t think a Filet-O-Fish will ever taste the same again either, though that might be a good thing.) Next week’s inspection will reveal more, though I wouldn’t mind investing another grand or three sooner or later if that what it takes to Voyager again. It isn’t so much about the make and model, however, as the vast cargo space . . . its five year mission: to explore strange new lands, to seek out new books and new antiques, to boldly go where no van of mine has gone before. I plan to run it into the ground doing my thing and trade it in for a new one some day if my thing goes well. Maybe there will be a good hybrid van by then.
Images of Brattleboro Books
Brattleboro Books, Brattleboro, VT (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Book Store Labels: Peabody Book Shop, Baltimore, MD
Found on the extreme lower right inside cover of The O’Donoghue; A Tale of Ireland Fifty Years Ago by Charles Lever (Dublin: William Curry, Jun. and Company, 1845).
The Standard can always use interesting, well-written articles on subjects of interest to the bookselling trade. Please query first, however, to email@example.com. You will be supplied with submission guidelines, but to summarize, the material should be original, it is subject to editing, you retain copyright, and of course there is no payment other than most everyone’s satisfaction. You do not need to be a member of IOBA, except for the IOBA Bookseller Profiles section, though we would surely like you to join. We are very interested in the book trade outside the U.S. as well.
Currently we are seeking short pieces for the following self-explanatory columns. House Calls; Garage/Estate/Library Sale Tales; Auction Action; Book Show Impressions; Book Store Lore; and Library File.
Blue Rum by Ernest Souza, down and out expatriate in Portugal, deep blue boards,
top edges dark blue, “blue tobacco smoke,” “hideous blue jardinieres,” “blue as blue glass,”
blue rum running and “Blue Sleep” addicts, hazy azul oscuro permeates, 1930 blue.
From the comic section of the New York Journal American dated 4/8/1945, the third panel of “Bringing Up Father” by Geo. McManus.
IOBA Standard, Summer Edition 2007, Volume 8, No. 3.
Check out the Independent Online Booksellers Association Website