I began, as many dealers have, as a collector. Basically I collected (and read of course!) SF/fantasy and horror paperbacks. From Asimov to Tolkien via Lovecraft and Verne and all points in between. Obviously I was/am into the visual side of all this as well—the movies and TV series of this genre. I noticed early on that there was an interesting cross-over…that is, a book that “ties-in” to the film or TV show. I then came across a seller (long retired) who actually dealt inter alia in these type of books. I became his best customer! When he moved on to pastures new I bought all his stock up and cherry picked the ones I wanted for my own collection. I had no interest in the leftovers, but I began to think that others might.
I then collated a simple typed list and put an advert in book and film magazines inviting any interested parties to send a stamped address envelope for said list. The response was encouraging and eventually this progressed to a proper regular printed catalogue. Sourcing stock was done through the normal channels of B&M stores (many about in those days), charity shops (not so many!), car boots, etc. Things took off quite nicely. Although these types of books were stocked by general paperback dealers they would be buried amongst their normal listings and often overlooked. I also made contact with sources in the U.S.A. which opened a whole new line of titles and printings for my U.K. customers.
Although most tie-ins are paperbacks and are fairly common, over the years certain “cult” series always seem to be in demand with new generations discovering them, and these can command decent prices. Grapper recently went for a high price at auction—unfortunately not from this dealer!
Back to my own book dealing, things were ticking over nicely with the regular printed catalogues. Then the INTERNET exploded onto the scene. Bookdealing was never the same again! I was fairly new to computers but learnt quickly—in order to survive. I joined ABE early on (since departed, due to “artistic differences” as they say) and also listed on various smaller sites. However I was determined to have my own site and after several false starts of trying to do it myself I looked around and found Chrislands—life savers!
They spoon fed me through the set up and now it’s simply a matter of uploading data and images. A very reasonable monthly fee and any questions or problems are answered or solved very promptly. A casualty of this was my printed catalogue, which was no longer cost-effective to produce. Ironically I had several phone calls from people asking have they missed a catalogue. I replied that not enough “customers” bought books to make it viable. Yes you’ve guessed it. These were the same customers who bought one cheap paperback a year just to stay on the mailing list!
Because of my niche market I’ve only ever dealt by mail order via a printed catalogue and now solely online. It would of course not be feasible to have a proper bookshop unless I branched out considerably, which I’m not keen to do, and this would also be economic suicide! So I’m quite content pottering along doing this. For those of a practical mind my wife is a full time College Lecturer which enables us (and two cats) to eat and me to work from home!
Mark Sugen operates Sugen & Co. Film & TV Tie-Ins out of North Yorkshire, England (by mail-order only) and can be contacted at http://www.film-tvtieins.com.