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THE STANDARD

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.

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Shop Cat – Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts Company

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As told by Blake to Colleen Barrett, Cataloguer


Blake joined the staff of the Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts Company (PRB&M), an antiquarian bookstore in northeast Philly, in late 2011. This loveable tabby cat had big paws to fill as her predecessor Sessa had many admirers, his own email address, and even his own division of the business: “SessaBks,” which continues to offer good used, “medium rare,” and simply serendipitous stock complementing our core early books of Europe & the Americas. After much thought, PRB&M’s proprietors Cynthia Buffington and David Szewczyk decided to name her after the English poet, painter, and printer William Blake, a surprisingly fitting name considering the variety of activities in which Blake participates — not to mention that some people say she’s a “tiger”!

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Blake spends her days here at The Arsenal patrolling the bookstore, which served for over 100 years as U.S. Army officers’ quarters before it became home to PRB&M’s stock and offices. Her lack of opposable thumbs prevents her from greatly contributing to cataloging efforts, but she makes up for it through her phenomenal public relations skills. She often greets visitors at our Saturday Open Houses, occasionally contributes to emails, and “helps” employees with their daily work by cleaning their desks of notes with her tail or demanding attention when they need a break. Her most famous appearance in print to date has been in the Lifestyle section of Cat Fancy, where she was a featured cool cat, but she is even more enthusiastic about being featured in a truly bookish publication.

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