Tuesday, December 06, 2005


On books published by bookshops

Many bookshop owners over the years conclude that they can supplement their incomes by also becoming publishers. I'll leave you, dear reader, to decide if this is a wise business decision. Suspect what you will.

This 1913 reckoning book published by Leary's in Philadelphia measures just over three by five inches. Consider the tiny book itself vs. the advertisement on the back cover for the Largest Old Book Store in America, which ends with this: "We invite every one to pay us a visit, and spend an hour inspecting our vast collection; information is cheerfully given without the inquirer feeling under the slightest obligation to purchase."

The tables within allow you to calculate in general, as well as find the weight of cattle, measure the weight of bushels of various grains, learn square measures ("useful for fruit-growers"), and figure the wages of your hired help (from one to twenty-five dollars per week). I hope the book was a best-seller - I have family members and customers with fond memories of the hours they spent browsing at Leary's, years ago.

Sarah - nice blog. Several of the mystery bookshops are publishing books, as I'm sure you know - The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale is doing pretty well, I believe.
Thanks, Jeff. Yes, The Poisoned Pen does a fine job! I myself am most interested in bookshop items from before 1950 or so - I have a great map of the world, for example, printed by the Phoenix Bookshop in NYC, marking the sites around the globe of the novels of Joseph Conrad (undated, circa 1930). I like to think that old-time bookshops published things like this just for the sake of doing it. Not that there's anything wrong with making a living, too...
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