Saturday, April 02, 2016


all in a day's work

Lately I find myself with a welcome, renewed sense of optimism about the book business.  Not that optimism ever left me completely, I am too much of a romantic for that, but I will admit to wondering if, well, you know.  The book business - new and used both - doomed?  Over?  Obsolete...?  How I've hoped it wasn't so!  And, you know, it isn't - books have always been, are, and will continue to be simply awesome!  A perfect portable spiritual interface between like minds, or unlike minds, whatever your reading preferences happen to be.  I was reminded of this again yesterday - I spent time working in my booth in the antiques mall where my books await (and often find) new owners.  It was the first of the month so I was also there to receive a paycheck and a printout of books sold last month.  At this quiet time of year I was pleasantly surprised by both pieces of paper.  People are still buying interesting, useful, entertaining, meaningful books of all kinds. 

Me, too!  Optimism intact, I ventured forth this morning to a local friends-of-the-library sale.  I thought the sale started at 10 a.m.  It started at 9 a.m.  Ruh-roh.  However the friends were restocking the shelves when I ambled in at 9:59, so I still found some books to buy - general stock, nothing fancy or rare.  I don't think I've ever described in detail what I come home with from book sales, other than to say "good books" - so, today's the day.  Pictured below is my complete take-away from this morning's sale.  I spent $83 on 56 books, a mix of hardcover and softcover, new and old  Even after all these years of book hunting, sales like this still feel like outrageously good deals to me.  Will anyone ever buy them from me, in turn?  Not always, but often, yes.  Most heartening. 
House and garden first.  Some cookery - John Thorne! - and gardening, and a few art books:

Then five - five! - Alan Bennett books, and some literature and history:

Short stories, and the unclassifiable - Maira Kalman! Joseph Mitchell! - and poetry - Frost, Blake!

More fiction, literary biographies, nonfiction - Doris Grumbach!  Patrick O'Brian!

Some Penguin paperbacks - how I love them in orange, blue, black, and pale green.  More fiction, and essays, travel, and poetry - Frank O'Hara!  Patrick Leigh Fermor!

And the last two, because I like the covers - Pat Conroy's memoir, My Reading Life (Nan A. Talese 2010), which I myself am planning to read, whenever I can tear myself away from James Lees-Milne's diaries for any amount of time, and a Maine art book, Eric Hopkins: Waypoints (Farnsworth Art Museum 2003), which I love and already own a copy of, but not a signed copy, which this is.  It was my big purchase of the day, at $8.  I will keep the signed one and sell the unsigned.

There are a few other books I'll be keeping out of this long row - either to read and sell, or read and keep indefinitely.  The big Alan Bennett collection Untold Stories (Picador 2005) is a doorstop, the first 350-ish pages of which are entries from his diaries.  Cannot.  Wait.  (Will have to.  Already over-committed re Lees-Milne.)  Also looking forward to 33 Artists in 3 Acts by Sarah Thornton (Norton 2014; read her previous book Seven Days in the Art World, loved it), and Miss Jekyll: Portrait of a Great Gardener by Betty Massingham (David & Charles 1973) about the inimitable garden designer Gertrude Jekyll.  There are a few others I may hang on to for the next to-be-read pile - possibly All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner 2014; so many people have raved about this novel, and I do think his memoir Four Seasons in Rome is splendid, so I'll give it a look-see), but the rest of these books are about to be priced and put into my book booth.  By me.  Work I truly love. 

What a good week - I spent three days at the easel in my painting studio, and two days messing about with books.  We paid our income taxes a few weeks ago and the happy news is that both of my business ventures are going concerns.  I made money in the book business, which remains slow and steady, and made twice as much from the sales of my paintings as from the sales of my books.  A delightful trend.  May it continue into the coming year and beyond.  Optimism, again - I'm all for it.

Well done- some terrific finds. I was especially happy to see Joseph Mitchell and Gertrude Jekyll, David McCullough, and Bennett Cerf's edited ghost stories. The Molly Barnes title is brilliant, assuming this deals with art, not a how-to book for old time criminals.
This is a great little book sale, Dan, if you ever find yourself in Blue Hill, Maine - the library has a sale room, which is open on the first Saturday throughout the year, and every Saturday during the summer months. Blue Hill is a very bookish town, so I always find good donated books when I attend. Maybe one or two other book dealers as well, but this time, since I was late, no one (the library recently changed hours, to open earlier in the morning).

I am a sucker for early Modern Library titles, with jackets. The little ghost stories book is quite dear. The New Yorker short story anthology is from 1940, also very good. And yes, the Molly Barnes book is meant for so-called "emerging artists" - I always wonder, emerging from where? into what? Like moles, blinking at bright light?
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?