Golden Books Group of Devon, U.K.


An Anglo-American Dyslexic selling books from England 1991 – 2008.

Golden Books Group

Being the great-grandson of Abner Wolf (American pioneer grocer) is a hard place to be with a big reputation to live up to but being of similar character and disposition it was always very much expected that I should go into business in some way as the great Abner had. So it was therefore that in February of ’91 I began my first enterprise, on a market stall (just like Abner had done many years previously), though in my case it was in London’s famous Greenwich. We set up shop (stand/stall) near the famous historic landmarks of the Greenwich Maritime Museum, Greenwich Observatory and indeed the Cutty Sark itself (since damaged by fire alas). Those were eventful days and also the chapter wherein I met and married my wife Ann, an Irish artist. Fuller story on our website.

Library Building Service

By 1993 we had gained enough experience to open our first proper shop in a then sleepy seaside town called Whitstable—famed for its oysters. This was to be the first of many ventures and adventures. Whitstable is on the North Kent coastline, 20 miles north of the City of Canterbury, and its Cathedral was the perfect backdrop for a fledgling book business. After our son was born we relocated the heart of the business to the celebrated “Camden Passage Antiques Market” in North London. This was where artists and intellectuals then mingled with royals and politicos and ordinary mortals in the narrow streets. It may have changed since then—that was the ‘90s!

Two years later after this experiment it was clear that my passion was for antiquarian and rare leather bound books pre-1930s and this is where I now specialize. This has been a happy decision and collectors came from around the world to buy our selection of quality British and European leather bindings. In 1998 I also opened a small temporary bookstand at an antiques mall in Kansas City for about a year.

By 1999 the way of the world had changed and as our future was being reborn on the internet we moved lock stock and barrel to an 18 acre smallholding on the Devon Coast. We were now able to comfortably house our burgeoning quantity of great books for sale. Our online presence at goldenbooksgroup.co.uk was hugely welcomed in those early days when only new books were “out there” and big corporate rivals made us earn our stripes the hard way which we have!

Works of Laurence Sterne

All went very well in the initial stages though Abe somehow managed to somehow capture our original domain names and our traffic from our websites to feed customers to themselves! We were dented badly, first with .com and secondly with .co.uk as they started their UK end. Our gloves really came off as we started our fight back. Luckily for Abe our attention was largely diverted from their domination agenda by more pressing matters and they were spared our legal response at the time. A lot of people lost their domains in this way it would seem.

Latterly we had more devastation when a local birdbrain tried to put us out of business by planting concrete posts right across our business access way. This restricted growth/trading for over 5 years as British law protects the alleged guilty party until actually proved guilty which although frustrating at times does prevent miscarriages of justice most of the time. Usually here, in the UK, as the Plaintiff, you still lose time and money and the guilty party still gets off lightly, often by claiming bankruptcy (despite having assets). It is a strange world and strange times that we live in.

Decorative Angela Brazil girl’s library

Even more recently (as if any further rites of passage were needed) I have been recovering from a serious prolapsed lumbar disc for the past two years.

Running your own business is certainly hard graft, in any weather. Good insurance is the very minimum requirement for survival. We are however still waiting for ours!

By 2003 in response to difficulties over access, we were promoting our new Library Building Service (delivered) which allowed us to exhibit at major antique fairs like Olympia Fine Art & Antiques Fair, the Miami International Antiques Fair and many others.

Works of Laurence Sterne

2007 saw me awarded the great honour of the Directorship of Marketing and Promotions for the Independent Booksellers Network (the UK’s version of IOBA) which is currently going through changes.

The future? I am very interested in keeping Antiquarian and Rare Bookselling and Booksellers as unique and independent as possible and am very loyal to this concept. It is a professional job where older books are respected as testaments and long term investments, cherished and shared and passed on for generations.

Current memberships include LAPADA, CINOA, PBFA, Independent Booksellers Network, and IOBA.

Yes, I did do it and still try to do it my way.

Best wishes,

Ivan and Ann Golden

Ivan Golden operates Golden Books Group out of Devon, UK, and can be contacted at http://www.goldenbooksgroup.co.uk.

The Standard: The Journal of the Independent Online Booksellers Association

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