book collecting

All posts tagged book collecting

Frankly, if you’re not a book collector, you will find this post boring

Published August 4, 2017 by The Merida Review

There is nothing more exciting than a new empty bookshelf. You can just look at it and imagine all the great books you’re going to fill it with. Right?

Well, it’s raining bookshelves around here!

I have both my personal book collection which are mostly downstairs, and the books I sell, those live upstairs in one of the (former) bedrooms. (I hate to think if I ever move!). My personal books have been out of space for a while, I have piles on the floor. The books for sale I have shelved, in alphabetical order by author, cause I have to be able to find them asap if someone has a question or if one sells, and I was nearly out of space so I was on the lookout for cheap shelves. I’ve been buying the old metal shelves people keep in their garages or workshops, cause they go really cheap and – if you get the old ones – they’re really sturdy and can handle books.

I usually wait till I need one before I buy one, one usually turns up when needed, or maybe I’m just not paying attention and miss them when I’m not looking to buy them. Maybe they are always there! Whatever. I was helping my kids sort out stuff for an auction (a relative’s estate auction) and spotted some shelves in the garage and promised them they’d be coming home with me, but only if they could look tired and rusty and sell for cheap. I was only going to buy one, but ended up with 3. I had to rearrange the book room to fit them in and it’s looking quite impressive, or at least I think so. I showed my son and he seemed to think my motley collection of shelves looked rather pathetic, but he wasn’t imagining them with books on them. I’ve been on a buying streak lately, I think I’ve already got enough to fill one. They just need to be typed into the database, which is rather slow going.

Then I was walking dogs and someone had tossed an old wood shelf in the trash. Really. I mean oak. Gees. I hollered over and asked if it was ok if I took it and they said sure, so I hustled home and got the car. You can’t get cheaper than free! And then my son showed up with one of those pressboard Ameriwood shelves that someone had abandoned at the auction (you know, you buy a whole row of stuff to get one thing and just take the one thing and leave the rest for vultures….).

So, five. I have five empty bookshelves scattered around my house right now. Whatever shall I do? Heh, heh.

* * *

The other night I was at a library book sale at a small town library, and the only scanner people there was an older couple, quite old – I think they were new at it, cause they were discreetly carrying a few books at a time over to the corner where the Mr would scan them. I could’ve offered them some ideas as to technique (from observation, not personal experience), but that didn’t occur to me till later. I was really struck by the idea of this older couple getting into the book scanning business. It seemed all wrong. I wondered if they were taken in by one of the “You can make XXX dollars a week!” ads, and invested big bucks into a class and the scanner and the service that does pricing. I wonder what future they have. I mean, if nothing else, carrying books! The scanner people I’ve rubbed up against do huge amounts of traveling to go to various charity sales. They’re aggressive! And this was a polite quiet older couple. When I left, the Mrs was standing by the curb with a couple cloth shopping bags of books while the Mr went to fetch the car. My heart went out to them.

I will probably never see them again. I don’t know exactly how the scanner business works, it’s supposed to be way easier than what I do, and faster returns. I spent some time investigating it when I moved back to the states and decided to get back into bookselling. In the end, I realized that you couldn’t do both, deal in antiquarian and first edition books AND run your little scanner thing. They are two different mindsets. Plus it’s expensive to get started because you need the equipment and the subscription to the pricing program. I couldn’t picture me driving all over Ohio to go to library sales, really. I go to a few. My kind of bookselling takes a lot of knowledge, experience; you gradually get a feel for books. And I’m slowly building up for the future. The more books I get now, the better off I’ll be then. That couple didn’t have the time to wait. They’ll be lucky to have 10 more healthy years (call me cynical). Say five. That’s not much time to learn the ropes. I just don’t know.

But oh well. They’re total strangers. What can I do?

Meanwhile, I’ve been going up and sitting in the bookroom – it looks amazing with stuff rearranged and one new wall of shelves waiting to be filled. It cheers me up. I’m tired of being broke, but eventually I’ll be really glad I stuck it out. This starting a business thing can be a bit tedious sometimes. I have a really long list of things I’m going to buy whenever it is that I start taking more in than I’m spending. When I sit in there, it reminds me that I did it before, I can do it again, I just have to be patient. Books are out there waiting for me. This will work!

Then again, there are probably people looking at me and thinking how old I am and wondering why the heck I am trying to get a new business going and thinking I don’t have enough time left in me to reap the benefits.

Gosh, that’s a rather sobering thought. I guess I should take back everything I said about that older couple and just wish them the best.

You go, guys! I hope you find lots of books!!! I hope you make lots of money! I hope you show all those skeptics what’s what.

Yeah.