top of page


The IOBA Standard is the journal of the Independent Online Booksellers Association and covers the book world, with a special focus on the online used, out-of-print, and collectible bookselling markets.



from The Delaware & Raritan Canal: A Pictorial History by William J. McKelvey, Jr

from The Delaware & Raritan Canal: A Pictorial History by William J. McKelvey, Jr

The Delaware & Raritan Canal: A Pictorial History by William J. McKelvey, Jr. (York, PA: Canal Press Incorporated, 1975).

Nine copies on one of the search services. Four of these include the following notes.

“With a substitute photo for one on page 27 if you find existing imagine offensive.”

“Includes photo to add if another photo of naked men and boys along the canal is found to be offensive.”

“One photo in book is of nude boys on bridge ready to swim in canal. Publishers provide a tipped-in alternate photo for those who find it offensive, so they can cover the original.”

“Alternative photo has been hinged over photo of nude boys pg 27.”

Whoever had my unlisted copy did not shrink from revealing this fine historical photo, as the unhinged modesty panel is nowhere to be found.


Descriptions of Fine to Very Good Books

-100% SAFE / Same-as-new. -Absolutely georgous book. -Perfect unmarked, factory new inner pages. -New never read perfect. -OOH, OOH, OOH pick ME!! BRAND SPANKING NEW!! -Book is in SUPERB condition. -Book was babied. -About like new except it’s mildewed. -The cover is bright and shiny. The text is clean, crisp, solid and unmarked. -100% new & unread & a bargain. -This is the original new book from the publisher. -Book in near new condion — like you bought it at the bookstore. -Fine. Never used. Perfetly usable. -This book is in exceptional condition for age. -The hardcover is near LIKE NEAR. -Spine has a tear, Else near bright. -Whistle clean, tight, & bright: Fine. -The finest copy in the world. Must have belonged to some kid that hated to read and never did. -A couple of Kool-Aid stains and lite ware otherwise Very Fine++. I can’t find the dustjacket. -Ultra clean. -N. V.G. to N.F. Email for detail if important. -Much better than good.

Submitted by Gwen Foss (


Book Blogs

Sarah’s Books—Used & Rare

Posted 9/7/2007

“Odd Volumes and Explained Absences”

We’ve started shopping at the supermarket nearest our new house. Of course while I’m checking out the groceries, Ryan is checking out the dollar used book bin placed, I think courtesy of United Way, at the front of each store in this particular chain. And he comes up to me with a dear old book, Boswell’s Life of Johnson, edited by George Birkbeck Hill (Oxford 1887), olive green cloth, gilt lettering on the spine, large paper edition. Only problem: it’s volume six only, of a six-volume set. Where are the other five? Will I be scrounging in this dollar bin for the rest of eternity, hoping against hope that they will show up, one by one? Yes, yes I will. I did this with my huge Scribner set of the works of Robert Louis Stevenson – I found most of a broken set at a library sale years ago and couldn’t pass it up, then at the same sale the following year I found two more volumes in the set. The spines were faintly discolored in a uniform way, so it was obvious they matched my set. Now, and most likely forever, I’m only missing one volume. And this library discontinued their annual sale a few years ago.

Anyway, back to Boswell – I resisted bringing this book home, poor volume six, because I knew it was going to be a real problem, and I’ve just spent several evenings struggling with what to do with other problems such as this, boxes and boxes of them – books that I’ve taken home for purely sentimental reasons. But under the bright lights of the supermarket, looking at that lovely old Oxford book, I flipped it open and saw two things: first, that this volume contained only “addenda, index, dicta philosophi, &c.” so technically it was readable on its own (the dicta philosophi is “a concordance of Johnson’s sayings” and is just too good for words); second, the book has a large fold-out frontis – “A Chart of Dr. Johnson’s Contemporaries, drawn up by Margaret & Lucy Hill, On the model of a Chart in Mr. Ruskin’s ‘Ariadne Florentina.’” Well. The book came home with us. You see how my mind justifies these things.

The pages are uncut, did I mention that? So I’m cutting them, reading the dicta philosophi this morning. Here are a few apt samples, to sum up the week (I’ll leave out the source citations, for brevity):

Antiquarian: ‘A mere antiquarian is a rugged thing.’

Concentrates: ‘Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight it concentrates his mind wonderfully.’

Housewifery: ‘The fury of housewifery will soon subside.’

Lexicographer: ‘These were the dreams of a poet doomed at last to wake a lexicographer.’

Philosopher: ‘I have tried in my time to be a philosopher; but I don’t know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in.’

Rained: ‘If it rained knowledge I’d hold out my hand.’

Verse: ‘Verse sweetens toil.’

That’s it from Johnson, for now. I’m wrapping things up at the shop today, because I’m about to go off to paint for a week. Another island retreat. I’ll be sans computer, by choice, and I’ll return after the 15th. I can’t wait to get back to painting, but I just found out I’ll be missing Ron Padgett’s poetry reading up the road at the University of Maine on Wednesday next week, rats and double rats! His recent memoir of Joe Brainard was simply terrific, Joe (Coffee House Press 2004) and now he’s got a new book of poems, How to Be Perfect (Coffee House Press 2007). I’m very sorry to miss him, but not so sorry that I’m going to come back to the mainland for the reading.

When I return I’ll be posting pictures of books with decorative cloth covers – in my move I found a carton full of them. Books I kept only for their covers, and very lovely they are, too. Thanks for sticking with me, dear readers, through my frequent absences of late. I’ll be settling in soon for the coming winter. Just gotta get a bit more actual living in first.


Zebulon Montgomery Pike’s Great Western Adventure, 1806-1807 by Jack Kyle Cooper

Made in IOBA

Zebulon Montgomery Pike’s Great Western Adventure, 1806-1807 by Jack Kyle Cooper (Colorado Springs, CO: Clausen Books, 2007). $69.95 (20% off to dealers); very limited number available in hard cover hb isbn 0-9787046-1-4; hb isbn-13 978-0-9787046-1-2 (4to, blue buckram with gilt spine titling; 214pp, including index); b&w illustrations by Jon MacManus, plus maps, and four color plates. The dust jacket (painted exclusively for this publication) is from a portrait by Colorado Springs artist Joseph Bonomo, showing Pike and his climbing party on Mount Rosa while attempting the ascent of the ”Grand Peak,” later named Pike’s Peak by John Charles Fremont. Research of Pike’s clothing was completed by Colorado Springs historian John Patrick Michael Murphy who, after researching Pike’s journals, manufactured the outfit by closely following Lt. Pike’s descriptions. From photos of Mr. Murphy wearing the Pike climbing gear, Joe Bonomo created his portrait which is now in the collection of Jack Cooper’s widow, Jenny Cooper. The book is also available in paperback for $35 (20% dealer discount), isbn 0-9787046-0-6, isbn-13 978-0-8787046-0-5. This is Pam and Doug Clausen’s first publication. The Clausen’s are continuing the tradition of bookselling begun in 1946 by Doug’s father Henry A. Clausen, who opened the first Clausen’s Bookshop in 1946 in Colorado Springs. In our seventh location at 2131 North Weber Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80907. Toll-free 1-888-412-7717, or 1-719-471-5884. Shop hours Wed-Sat 10am-6pm. We are a general stock used and antiquarian bookshop, with emphasis on classics and history. We also offer certified appraisals and book mending services. For more information go to


The Herd Shot ‘Round the World

The Successful Stockman and Manual of Husbandry by Andrew A. Gardenier is one of those great old turn of the last century agricultural titles that sat right next to the bible in the farmhouse. The copy in hand contains various color illustration “manikans”—four tipped-in cut-outs of a cow, for example, showing anatomical divisions, muscles, the circulatory system, and the skeleton, respectively, all resting on a paste-down page of the “digestive apparatus” complete with nine moving organ flaps. Hiding behind the last one are two little fetuses. Brilliant! I bet the children liked playing with this. Anyway, there are 684 pages of arcane information in here, but the farmer saw fit to attach a single small clipping from some ephemeral agricultural publication to one of the first endpapers by means of a straight pin. “To Prevent Choking.—As apples were plentiful last season and our cows had access to them at all times, we had a couple of cases of ‘apple in the throat;’ the animals were in a very dangerous condition and in the last stages. A heaping teaspoonful of gunpowder was given and in 15 minutes bloat and gasses were gone and the cow stopped choking. Thus by the application of this very simple remedy the cow was saved.”


House Calls

All I could ascertain was this. She lived in an old house in the country, about 100 books, very old, very interesting looking, and she didn’t know who owned them to begin with. “They were just there.” I asked for some of the titles. “They are not down here with me. You’ll just have to look at them.” I kept saying no but she broke me down, agreeing to meet in the parking lot of the local library on one of her trips through town. I usually don’t work out of cars, but this seemed like a good compromise. I almost always guarantee a minimum of $25 if they can pass the polite but generally rigorous phone interrogation. The other day, for example, it only took three questions to ascertain that a young man’s 500 hardcover books in the attic were actually the leftovers he was not able to sell on When such house calls don’t work out, my $25 minimum serves as a fairly sharp reminder to improve my line of questioning; and I leave them my card which sometimes pays off. She called to firm up the time of our meeting, adding that she was hoping for $5 each.

“I already explained that they are probably not worth much at all. If you want $500 I don’t think we should bother getting together, as you would just be disappointed. You weren’t even able to tell me what kind of books they are.”

“They’re in the car already. History books and such. I’ll take $25. I just want to get rid of them.”

“Like I said before, they may be worth a lot more than that, but I won’t know until I see them.”

We agreed on a day and time. The car pulls in, the trunk pops open, and there sat six boxes of just about the most awful books you’d ever want to see, time-blasted, cracked and warped, dog-eared and foxed, oddly moisturized and linty, bad historical fiction and tame bodice-rippers from the likes of Thomas Costain, Frank Yerby and dozens of lesser lights in these fields, mostly ex-library to boot.

“Hmmm. I’ll give you the $25, but I can’t do anything at all with these, and only a couple are even good enough to donate to a charity book sale. You say you don’t know where they came from?”

“Nope. I run the lake association laundry room lending library where we have our summer camp, and they just appeared on the shelves one day four or five years ago.”


Somewhat Punny Bookstore Names

Lots of these are probably no longer in business.

A Likely Story (South Miami, FL) A Likely Story (Urbana, IL) A Novel Idea (Sarasota, FL) A-Book-A-Brac Shop (Miami Beach, FL) All Booked Up (The Villages, FL) All That’s Fit to Print (St. Petersburg, FL) Beyond Words (Northampton, MA) Bibliowha? (Beverly Hills, CA) Bookberries (New York, NY) Bookin’ It (Little Falls, MN) Bound to Please (Sidney, NY) Burning Books (Austin, TX) Chase the Bookseller (Boulder City, NV) Deliberate Literate (Memphis, TN) Dog Eared Book Barn (Hoosick, NY) forWORDS (Torrance, CA) Full of the Dickens (Sandusky, OH) Hardback Cafe & Bookstore (Chapel Hill, NC) Jots and Titles (Marietta, GA) Moby Dickens (Taos, NM) Monkey See, Monkey Read (Northfield, MN) Novel Hovel (Redlands, CA) Novel Shoppe, dba Aunt Teek’s & Uncle Lectable’s Vintage Store (Taylor, TX) One for the Books (High Point, NC) One for the Books (Newhall, CA) Pleasure Bound (Sedona, AZ) Run for Cover! (Brooklyn, NY) Shelf Indulgence Books (San Francisco, CA) The Bookkeepers (Texarkana, TX) The Cerebral Deli (Dunseith, ND) The Happy Booker (San Bernardino CA) The Little Read Book (Wauwatosa, WI) The Prints and the Paper (Eugene, OR) The Scholar Ship (Stafford, VA) Tome Raiders (Charlotte, NC) Twice Read Tales (Kennesaw, GA) Twice Sold Tales (Red Bank, NJ) Verbatim (Foley, AL) Westside Stories (Santa Cruz, CA) What the Book? (Seoul, South Korea) [Editor’s favorite] What the Dickens (Auckland, New Zealand) Words-Worth Books (Holbrook, NY) Writ & Wisdom (Pittsburgh, PA) Submitted by Gwen Foss (


Estate Sale Tales

Friday morning, and just one local estate sale to check out. I could go into all the surrounding suburbs or nearby cities or outlying towns but don’t feel like it. Kind of an interesting house with knotty pine floors, old print curtains, red floor lamps, and rather vast interior spaces. The Ponderosa East. I got there late because I generally can’t abide the opening gun crush these days. Most of the good furniture was sold already. Found a very heavy old ledger in the basement filled with transcribed musical scores. For example, “Casta Diva” from the opera Norma by Vincenzo Bellini. On old, large format rag paper, title pages (some decorated) in Italian in the flourishing hand of one Giovanni Ruscetta, all the musical notes written out, four to eight pages each, mostly dated 1897 Naples. Don’t know what they might be worth but the whole batch was only $25. The homeowner had been the longtime choral director at a big high school a couple of towns away. I was poking around in a basement file cabinet and made a low offer on all his files. They were bemused but agreed if I would leave anything personal for the lawyer, which I can do with my eyes closed by now. There were also twenty tied bundles of music on a table in the garage all marked $12 each, probably so they could go down to $10 each, but by noon they would have been happy to get $5 for the whole lot.

On the antiques side, picked up an anatomically correct ceramic bulldog that I thought was kind of cheap at $8 till I got home in the bright light of my outside work area and saw the fine line that bespoke of a broken head. Either I’m slipping or it was simply too dark in that piney house. Ben Cartwright would have mentioned the repair if this was his live garage sale rather than his dead estate sale. On the other hand, he would have shot anybody who tried to steal it. The bulldog will stay outside prettifying a cement block which braces a twisty Jenny Lind planter-bearing headboard, there to remind me about looking for damage while heading out on these campaigns. I stuck that headboard in the round stone strip between my back walk and garage wall a few years ago for the same reason, to remind me not to buy old beds in bad condition, but it looks all grown in now draped with trailing nasturtiums and other blossoms. Maybe this area can be made into a shrine for relatively weatherproof auction and yard sale errors. Also got a large Imperial two-section blue enamel with white stenciled letters clam steamer/chowder dispenser for $15 that produced an incredibly loud noise as I tripped running back up the basement steps before the light changed in this still-crowded estate sale. Thick bright red and green suspendered woolen pants with an old Montgomery Ward label for a dollar (an easy twenty at the antique center) and ten or so other items rounded out the lot, for a grand total of $175. The deceased had a long high narrow shelf crowded with dozens of ceramic Irish decanters, all marked $30. I pulled down the “Dogs of Ireland” specimen while they were tallying my purchases even though it looked more than a little tacky. “We can work with you on the price if you take them all.” I burst out laughing but they took it well. There is very much of an ebb and flow with estate sales, and the tide often starts going out rapidly at noon on the first day.

Among the files were many of his non-legal personal papers. Obviously there were no descendants. First you notice this by what’s for sale and then confirmation usually comes in the checkout line banter. Here were his college term papers (mostly As but two Cs marked “late” and “too much quoted material”), lots of glee club work, WW II action in the Pacific Theater, very active in music organizations, summer music camps, an impressive resume, etc. There was one carefully preserved letter from the 1970s containing ostensibly friendly but rather ominous advice from a superior in the school system. R.K.O. (many folders carried these initials and I thought they might contain valuable movie material till I got home) had to reinvigorate his efforts with the music department, which had become noticeably tired. Too many old timers were coasting. Look what the principal did to the Language Department last year. You’re next. I can’t sell this for you. You must continually impress. No doubt you’ll want to discuss this with me soon but don’t be on the defensive. Think Positive! Among his many letters of acknowledgement and choral group hotel reservations (you were working hard the whole time Robert…screw them!) were lots of early job offers, including one from a new Arizona high school that sounded great. He might have been happier (or even still alive) if he’d taken it. It never fails to amaze that a schlub like me should be the final evaluator of such a life. Two large boxes documenting his earthly presence waiting for Monday’s recycling trash, and the common published items are just fertilizer for my growing business. Hopefully. That reminds me to check on Giovanni Ruscetta, the musical transcriptionist. Nothing jumping off the screen. Would have been better if he himself was famous too. Probably just a student or a wannabe. The only decent surprise in the whole lot was an incongruous Pittsfield, MA boxing poster from the 1930s or so which should do pretty well on the Bay or at auction. The referee was “Shotsy” Shanahan, and the biggest fighters were “Chick” West, “Young” Oliver, and “Joe” Eagen. “Joe”?


Image of 7th Ave. Books 7th Ave. Books, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY

7th Ave. Books, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY

I took this picture last summer, not realizing I should have panned a bit to the right in order to catch Park Slope Books just next door. The sad demise of 7th Ave. Books is reported in the 7/28/2007 issue of The Brooklyn Paper.

Book Store Labels: The Christian Book Centre, Madang, New Guinea

Found on the upper left rear inside cover of Mountains in the Clouds by Olaf Ruhen (London: Angus & Robertson, 1963).


The Standard can always use interesting, well-written articles on subjects of interest to the bookselling trade, although we would fall off our Office Max chair if we ever received any that were not solicited or strong-armed to begin with. Please query first, however, to 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.



Early preview estate sale guy, you said all the books upstairs and down for $300,

but you reneged on the upstairs, so while you’re in the basement haggling with a plumber,

I’ll just liberate this blue dictionary to you compact edition of the OED to me I’ve always wanted.


Book Store Labels: The Christian Book Centre, Madang, New Guinea Found on the upper left rear inside cover of Mountains in the Clouds by Olaf Ruhen (London: Angus & Robertson, 1963).

Book Store Labels: The Christian Book Centre, Madang, New Guinea Found on the upper left rear inside cover of Mountains in the Clouds by Olaf Ruhen (London: Angus & Robertson, 1963).

From the comic section of the New York Sunday Mirror dated 8/22/1948, “Louie” by Harry Hanan.

From the comic section of the New York Sunday Mirror dated 8/22/1948, “Louie” by Harry Hanan.




IOBA Standard, Fall Edition 2007, Volume 8, No. 4.




bottom of page