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I’m Not Dead Yet

To the (perhaps) dozens of readers still hanging on and following this blog, I say to you: All is not lost! My posting has been infrequent and sporadic (at best), but changes are afoot. So once you’ve recovered from the shock of seeing Biblioblography in your rss reader again, some news…

First and foremost, I’ve had a new website designed by the good folks at Bibliopolis. Still making small revisions and tweaks, but you dear Biblioblography readers get the first preview: BTW – Simply typing works too.

Related to the website update, I’ve been updating the look, feel, and undercarriage of this blog. As such, I’ve moved it to it’s own subdomain:

The design needs work and will be updated in the coming days/months, but the underlying workings of the blog (theme, software, etc.) work much more smoothly now. So update your links, blogrolls, and rss feeds. Speaking of which, the new feed can be found here:

I’ll be posting in both places while I get things fine-tuned, but within a month I’ll be publishing exclusively on the revised site. So probably best to just make the updates now.

I have resolved in light of the new site, to write more (and more often) here. Stay tuned.


To say I’m excited about my first New York Antiquarian Book Fair (as an exhibitor), would be an understatement. As the best book fair in the world, exhibiting here really feels like “earning my stripes,” and is in many ways the culmination of over five years of work. Set-up begins this morning and I can’t wait.

It is also the fiftieth anniversary this august event (a wonderful history of which can be found here) and to mark the occasion as well as record my own experiences at the fair, I’ll be posting to a Flickr set I created specifically for this purpose. I’ll be uploading pictures and commentary from set-up to break down: the books, the booksellers, the booths, the attendees, etc. The set can be viewed here.

I may even work up the energy to write a few posts about the fair to this rather infrequently-updated blog. Stay tuned for ongoing reports from the Armory floor and booth B17 (where I’m exhibiting with Lux Mentis, who will almost certainly be posting from the fair as well).

You can also follow my updates on Twitter: @briancassidy (or see link in right-hand column of this blog).

Further details on the fair (hours, etc.) can be found here.

Hope to see you there!

Baltimore Book Fair (Belatedly [Very])

Finally got around to uploading a small group of photos from last September’s Baltimore Book Fair, where I exhibited and which takes place in conjunction with the Summer Antiques Fair. You can see the photos on Flickr with my annotations.

It’s a great fair. Set-up (as you can see in the photos) was a snap. Load-out was a bit of a cluster-f$&%, with long lines to both get into the Convention Center and (once there) to unload. Ian and I agreed that next year we’ll just pack up and go straight to dinner, waiting to load-out once the back-log has cleared. Much more civilized.

The fair draws about 60 dealers, with a good mix of established dealers (Ken Lopez, Between the Covers, Royal Books) and smaller, more regional dealers. And because so much of the fair is dedicated to antiques and fine art, the crowds were strong despite the economy. That said, sales at least for me – and most dealers I spoke to – were soft. Since I don’t have to travel far, this is a relatively cheap fair for me to do, so I did okay. I also bought some great material at the fair, and had at least two good collections come my way via a couple of civilians who sauntered into the booth asking if I might be interested in their books. So on the whole, a good fair. I’ve already put down my deposit for next year.

Getting There…

Evaluating an Archive: Or Why I’m Glad I Have a Huge Dining Room Table

Feeling like crap today. Bad cold. Fortunately I have this to keep me occupied:

It’s newly-arrived archive I’m evaluating. I love going through, digging into, and organizing an archive, trying to piece together the story it tells. Especially useful in these situations is an over-sized dining room table (and an understanding wife). Can’t say much about the archive yet, but will post some (very) interesting tid-bits as I can.

So in short: feeling icky, but with plenty to keep my mind off it.

Over-Pursuing: On Paying Too Much For Books

It happens. You miscalculate scarcity or demand. Or a widow asks you, tears in her eyes, “Is that all?” A dealer charms you with a book’s virtues. Or assures you “The only one on the internet right now.” You get overexcited at an auction. Or you drool over some choice item at a book fair. Could be as simple as waiting too long to catalogue an acquisition. But no matter the cause, if you are a book dealer sooner or later: you will overpay for stock.

Now there’s an argument to be made that the best dealers are those who do this the least. And while to a certain extent this is true, no dealer can avoid it entirely, and I’ve come to find that the best dealers are more often the one’s who know what to do when the dreaded happens. As I’ve been cataloguing an uncomfortable amount of material I have – ahem – “over-pursued,” it’s a subject that’s been on my mind of late.

Though it’s taken me several years, and some days I do this better than others, I’ve found the following helps lessen the sting somewhat:

1) Catalogue the material immediately. For me, this is the hardest part. It’s easier to ignore that pile of margin-challenged books. After all, to process it is to admit – to put in cold hard numbers – how little you will make (or conversely, how much you will lose) on your new acquisitions. It’s also to admit that your judgement was wrong. Very wrong. Wrongity-wrong. Better to set aside and hope the market improves. Better to just sweep them under the proverbial rug. *Fingers in ears* NANANANANAN – I don’t know you’re there!

Not that *I* ever did anything like that. But the bottom line is this: the market is very unlikely to get any better and the sooner the books get on the market, the sooner you are likely to get back (at least some of) your capital and the sooner that capital can be put towards better purchases. That is assuming you…

2) Examine why it happened and learn from the mistake. Was I feeling flush? Did I let my emotions get the better of me? Has a market that I thought I knew well changed? Did I ignore my gut instincts? Did I listen to my gut instincts? Did I not stick to my budget? Did I buy something I didn’t fully understand? The more I recognize how it happened, the better l can avoid repeating the error in the future.

3) Think more creatively. Bad buys make me think about how I can turn them over as quickly as possible. They make me dig deeper into who might be a potential customer for the material and consider more fully how I might reach them. Maybe I can’t make much money but I can use some of the material to acquire potential new clients. In other words, bad buys can (sometimes) make me a better seller.

And I also find it useful to remember the words of my colleague Garrett Scott, who recently tweeted me on this topic: “But remember Einstein’s general theory of bookselling: As the speed of turnover increases, margins appear larger.”

Now, I’m off to look at a collection of music books. I will not let their siren song lure me to the rocky shores of over-paying…

Daily Links – November 13, 2009

Proulx papers. NYPL acquires.

the internet isn't killing anything. No, not even books.

Christian Swinehart's epic Choose Your Own Adventure visualizations. These are lovely and amazing.

Daily Links – November 12, 2009

Theme Park Maps through the ages. Great ephemera site. And proof that collections need not be costly to be cool.

Daily Links – November 7, 2009

Please – no preferential treatment. Isaac Asimov is so cool.

Daily Links – November 5, 2009

MA Gov Suggests State Library May Close. Um. Yeah. So bad.

Edmund Wilson's all-purpose "get lost" letter. This is just too friggin awesome.