Jean S. McKenna of Jean S. McKenna – Books

Hello all, I have been asked to be this week’s bio. I feel I have talked so much about myself that you Already know everything there is to know, but here goes:

I have been married for 41 years (to the same man) have 3 sons, 37, 38, 39, and 5 grandchildren, 4 of whom, with their parents, live with us. Three of them are home schooled, so there is always a lot of activity going on. The house is filled with music, piano, flute, violin, noise, ballet, Irish Dancing, Art, chaos, and love. It will be devastating when they leave – going from 8 around the dinner table every night to 2. Well, enough of that, we will adapt, and I will be grateful for the support of all my “book friends”. We have certainly enjoyed this time. They have been with us for 1-l/2 years now, and will soon be on their way overseas to work at Christian Schools – that is their calling, but for us it will be very tough. I appreciate all of the friends I have made, and am still making, over IOBA, and Biblio., they help me through the tough times. One of which was a bout with breast cancer, and my husband’s, laryngectomy. He cannot speak without an aid, but he still works, is doing fine, as I am. We are truly blessed.

I still live in the same area my ancestors founded c1600’s, and have never lived more than 30 Miles from my birthplace, which just happens to be Beverly, Mass., on the northshore of Mass. I’m an old yankee, and proud of it!! “I am what I am”, and as predictable as they come.

I began selling o.p. books in 1973 anticipating an empty nest, and to support my “habit”, as so many of us do. Actually, a bit before this, I was selling at flea markets/antique markets, So it was a natural progression to expand. I opened my first book shop around 1976, forced into it by one of my flea market customers going “berserk”, and tossing all of his books out the windows. I think he called me from the “psych.” ward asking if I would take all of his books on consignment 50/50. When I arrived at his little house, I was amazed to see nothing but books – piled high to the ceiling.My husband, who is very supportive by the way, said no way could we handle more books in the house; as luck would have it, there was a small shop opening down the street from us – $185.00 a month. I was very nervous, but took the plunge, and have never regretted it. I moved only when building was sold. I went to a lovely, expensive part of town, and when rent reached $900.00 a month, it was no longer fun, so I asked my husband if I could come home, and he said I could, but not the books, which of course, had multiplied over the years (13 years later) so, of course, we added a very expensive addition to our home, and I now have a 20′ x 30′ book room at home. I do mail order, internet, and about 8-9 book fairs, and antique shows per year. I have cut down considerable on doing shows, as the internet takes up so much time.

I have learned so much from my customers over the years, and have lost many good customer/friends, but I have also made many good friends. It is a great community. IOBA will only add to this.

I specialize in Children’s Books, Illustrated Books, and General Stock, usually the areas my customers have led me into, with their interests; usually moderately priced, with the occasional rarity thrown in. I chose this niche for myself, and have been very comfortable with my choice.

People are always asking me how/why I got into this business, of low pay, long hours (sometimes) And no benefits, but a great boss 🙂

Well, my earliest recollection regarding books, is my Grandmother’s attic. She and I spent hours going through the old things, including Godey’s Ladies Books, G.Henty, books, old games, toys, etc. I oftened wished she had newer toys to Play with, but now I appreciate the game of Authors, old dolls with china heads, etc. She also Loved Agatha Christie, so I read those along with the Henty books, and NANCY DREW, Disney, and what ever else I could get my hands on, included the Saturday Evening Post with those great Norman Rockwell covers. To this day, he is still a favorite. I have always been an avid reader, as were my parents, and working in the school library in 5th grade remains one of my fondest childhood memories. My parents belonged to the Lit. Guild, so I worked my way through most of those as well. As an adult I volunteered many hours at the local library and historical society, learing more about books in these two places.

I keep my family, who are all readers, supplied with books, and especially my husband, who waits patiently outside bookshops, antique malls, and book sales for me. My family has always been very supportive in the pursuit of my “career”. It also helps that my husband has an accounting background, and does the taxes, record keeping, credit card stuff, etc.

I’m happy to be where I am, and I’m thankful for all of you. It’s important to love what you do, and do what you love, because it defines who you are I believe, and I love what I do. Even through sickness, I was able to continue, creeping to the computer, getting the support of book friends, and occasionally selling a book or two. So..I figure I can do this for the rest of my life, and I intend to!!

Jean S. McKenna

Jean S. McKenna – Books (Specializing in Children’s)
P.O. Box 190
(UPS Delivery – 10 Longview Terrace)
Beverly, MA 01915 U.S.A
Phone:(978) 922-3182

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