Tuesday, May 18, 2021
bookselling in the time of covid
A quick note this morning to say hello, and mention that I returned to my book booth late last week, for the first time in over a year. The antiques mall where I sell books closed for some of the pandemic, then opened again, then closed again, than reopened. Here at home I had a ton of books for my booth, from one of the last public events I attended, pre-pandemic: a library book sale during the first weekend of March, 2020. In a fit of spring cleaning, I also culled a lot of books from my own stacks, and ended up with around fourteen cartons and assorted bags of books and other items to bring in. It took me a few hours to clean and tidy up my booth (which was a sad mess), and shelve all the new books. I remember how immaculate my shop used to be - first thing every morning I'd straighten the books on their shelves, touch the spines, put a few new things on display, and give everyone a pep talk as I opened the shop - and seeing my booth in a relative shambles was disheartening. But throughout the last year I just wasn't willing to be in public places, stores especially. The wonderful folks at the antiques mall understood and kept my little business going for me, while I stayed home. It was good to be back, and have my hands on a lot of books again:
Ryan helped me get all the books inside, then waited, took a few pictures, and was generally supportive while I did my thing. Business throughout the last year was slow but surprisingly decent. And the owner of the antiques mall didn't charge booth rent for the times they had to close. I made some money here and there, and enjoyed seeing what sold, and what would therefore live to be read another day. Oh world of books, I miss you. But the corner has really been turned in my life, from being a professional full-time bookseller to being a professional full-time painter (it only took a decade or so, to make that transition), and I don't think there's any going back now. I still love and want to continue with bookselling, but my art life is ascendant. I just brought sixty paintings to my primary gallery for my solo show there in June, and the gallerist would like even more for the remainder of the summer. The second gallery representing me also wants more work. Maine is about to reopen for business, and is one of the safest states to visit right now. We could have a very busy season. However, I'm going to continue to stay away from highly-populated places, and out of stores and other enclosed spaces, whenever possible. Ryan and I both are cautious people by nature, and see no reason to take chances when we've made it this far. I'm glad that painting is solitary. It suits me fine.
This week I'm working at home, looking at the empty spaces left by the removal of all those objects last week - so many books, so many paintings - and wondering what will arrive to fill the space. My instinct is to leave it empty. I only have one book on order right now, which is supposed to be published next week, but other than that I have no desire to buy, just to continue with my spring cleaning, and clear out even more. This is probably the residual effect of being cooped up for so many months. I'm looking forward to more space, greater clarity, and the open horizons of summer.