Friday, October 31, 2008

Be Careful Who You Associate With

For every subject or public figure, someone has created a book collection. In many cases a bunch of those folks have gotten together to form a society or social group around their interest. The websites for these groups are some most useful and interesting ones around for avid readers, excited fans, or mercenary sellers.

The big author names are represented well, such as Tolkien (, Lovecraft (, Frank Baum (, Michael Chabon (, Cormac MacCarthy ( and others.

Societies or collaborations for authors of lesser rank are out there, including H. Beam Piper (, M. R. James (, G. A. Henty (, and more. There are also societies that focus on subjects, like the Victorian Era (, Mars (, Chicago Maritime History (, Blimps & Dirigibles (, and Food Writers ( to name a few.

There are a number of reasons such websites are useful. Many of them recommend better books in their area to members and visitors. Some even publish books or shorter works, a few of which might be online. Others offer forums, some for members only and some for the public to read, where book related topics come up. Societies also offer awards on occasion, and can have detailed discussions of the nominees which are most helpful and informative to read. I have even found that some of the better organized societies offer special deals on a variety of publications, which can be a better deal than buying through Amazon or other sites.

So when you are delving into a subject, take a moment and check if there is a society or association running around unsupervised out there on the web. They might save you a ton of time, and give you a fast education on some uncommon topics.


More after the jump...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Books, Used Sellers

Since this is a new blog (so to speak) I'll start off our endeavor with New Bookery.

I am not sure how much used & rare booksellers pay attention to new publications, but I bet it is more than many folks think. If you are a modern firsts person, that newly released Cormac MacCarthy novel is probably easiest to get signed or in a limited edition right when it comes out. Same way with science fiction (which I dearly love) if it is a limited edition from that fine (relatively) new publisher Subterranean Press. For reference works, like those wonderful tomes from Oak Knoll, again, earlier is sometimes cheaper.

For history, our focus at the shop, we notice more variance than the example above. Some subjects from publishers are printed in such small runs that to miss them when they first come out is to ensure a higher price down the road. IF you can find them later, that is. An subject example of this is medieval Spain, especially the more scholarly works. A number of publishers (Univ. of Pennsylvania, Princeton) have put out excellent studies of medieval Spanish royalty, but did not do paperback editions or keep the books in print very long. Most likely they thought the primary market for these books were university libraries and professors in medieval Spanish history. However, many of these scholarly books are actually interesting and readable without a PhD. So educated lay-people may also be interested in them as well. This ensures both scarcity and higher prices on the secondary market if you miss the book when it comes around.

Conversely, other scholarly books may drop in cost more quickly. WWII history from the from the Univ. of Kansas, or law enforcement history from Yale often fall to less than $10 with shipping on the inter-tubes less than a year after publication. This is in part due to the size of printing and/or to paperback editions being published simultaneously or shortly after the initial hardcover.

Used & rare bookseller do occasionally buy new books, especially if he bookseller has a subject focus. A few used & rare booksellers in our area (us included) will have signings or events for local authors with history books, who will certainly not be a huge draw at a Borders or Barnes & Nobles. Unsold copies of such books are rarely returned by us, as we know we will sell them out over the course of the coming months. We also often pay up front for a steeper discount, which makes everyone happy.

So, keep an eye on the new book market as well as the used one. The more specific a subject, the better the reputation of the author, and the greater likely hood of a small print run could signal a sleeper down the road. And it just might be good reading to boot.


More after the jump...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Following Folly

Many blogs are started only to immediately crumble; some stay a while, then fade away. But others take their place. Bookman's Folly will be my blog and the blog of my bookshop til further notice, or we fade away. But until then, we've got a bit of a plan.

I figure a schedule is a bit better than waiting for a muse, so here's what we're gonna try:

Tuesdays we'll have what I'll call Insider Bookery - items of interest to those who engage with used and rare tomes with some fervor, either selling or collecting.

Wednesdays we'll talk about some New Bookery - new books, new bookshops, new publishers, new something related to books.

Thursdays will be Online Bookery - I'll recommend some bookish website that strikes my fancy but that also has some utility. And some survivability, so the link won't be dead in a month.

Fridays will be Historical Bookery - a reach back in the past to some person, book, thing, or event of bibliophilic or biblioclastic interest.

Saturdays - If I blog on Saturdays, well, it won't be pretty, so usually no blogs on Saturday. Maybe Sundays. But not Saturdays. And Mondays are right out.


More after the jump...