I am Victor Goldring and trade under the simple name of Goldring Books. Based in Eastbourne, East Sussex, United Kingdom. It is operated out of our home and we sell on the internet only, with our website www.goldringbooks.com being established in 2004. I came to bookselling late in life having held a senior accounting position with an American multi-national oil corporation but decided to take early retirement at 50, too much stress and travelling having worn me down. It was certainly time to quit the “rat race” and to concentrate on enjoying life and having more free time to devote to ourselves. I am ably assisted by my wife Christine and not assisted by our cat Oliver, who regards all packaging as toys. I have always had a great love of books and have been a collector most of my life and bookselling was a logical step to take, combining a love of books with an additional income. It was good to make use of the knowledge gained over the years, although the learning curve is always ongoing, and also wonderful to be able to work from home.
Our specialist interests are French Literature, Memoirs and Biographies in translation, French Revolution, Victorian and English Authors before 1960, Juvenilia, Travel, Historical Fiction, Birds, Cats, Animals and the Paranormal / Spiritual. We carry a regular, ever changing stock of Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Poetry, Modern Fiction and Non-Fiction, Foreign Authors, Business, Self Help, Religion and much more. Our eclectic stock includes the scarce and unusual with many signed copies. We tend to buy books that seem to be interesting, although we may have no detailed knowledge of the subject and are always prepared to take a chance.
The enjoyment of bookselling is made more so by the appreciation of customers who have taken the trouble to compliment us on our descriptions, packaging and service. It is always pleasing when this happens. Having shipped books to some 45 countries it is also a good aspect of bookselling to be able to communicate with so many people and to answer detailed enquiries, which some may find tedious but which I feel is important, even though this may not result in a sale.
If I may quote selectively from an American customer’s long note to us, I believe this says it all.
“Firstly, I must thank you and compliment you on your excellent packaging, of which you are justly proud, and which is so terribly important, now-a-days….Secondly, I must just comment on your ‘Thank you for supporting a small independent bookseller,’ and I trust you will forgive my prolixity. I have been a bibliophile my entire life (now on the threshold of the twelfth lustrum) and a book collector for slightly over forty years. Small, independent, second-hand booksellers (that is, booksellers of second-hand books, not previously owned booksellers) have been the source of ninety percent of my books….The trade (and I emphasize that it is a trade, rather than a profession, since to my mind trades are invariably far more honest, beneficial, and pleasant than any profession) has always been an honourable one, and has always attracted men (and women) of intelligence and philosophy, with whom it has been (for the most part) a pleasure to associate with. Unfortunately (yes, even on a bright day there are always dark clouds in the distance) the inflated currencies of the last two decades, and the alluring ease with which they could be earned, saw some very disreputable persons call themselves booksellers, and this remains true today.”
I am particularly thrilled by the hunt for books to add to stock, which has taken us to some interesting places. Tracking down good books can be both enjoyable and frustrating, and many calls to sellers result in viewing extremely poor condition volumes, the ubiquitous book clubs and the over expectation of value. Some people believe that because an item is old it is worth a good price and are disappointed to be told that this is not so. A challenge I particularly like is when I view a collection of books and need to make a decision to purchase after going through hundreds of volumes and to be able to use intuitive judgment as to whether they are good to buy and sell at the right price. This does mean reviewing books at quite a speed, but with the experience of looking at many books I find that I am becoming much faster and more adept.
I enjoy the research of bibliographic information on a scarce or unusual work, if not always conclusive, and often spend far too much time trying to value a book that has no comparison and simply end up with a price that I believe to be fair.
Our plans for the future include adding more stock gradually but not to become too large and unmanageable or there would be a danger that the enjoyment factor could be lost. We are quite happy with our level of success and to be a small fish in the ocean of bookselling. We would recommend the honorable trade of bookselling to anyone, provided that they adhere to ethical standards, are committed, have a passion for books, and do not mind hard work.
I found IOBA through the forum of a certain listing site (no free plug for them!) and liked what they stood for and the ethics that they expounded. Ethics are important in any business and particularly so in selling over the internet. I am one of the few UK sellers to have joined but felt it important to belong to such an organization, and I direct customers to the code of ethics there that I subscribe to.
Victor Goldring operates Goldring Books out of Eastbourne, East Sussex in the U.K.
IOBA Standard, Fall Edition 2007, Volume 8, No. 4