Today I drove up to Bart’s Books in Ojai, one of my favorite bookstores.
In fact, it’s the location of the big globe in the photo at the top of this blog, with me holding that lovely copy of “Last Flight” by Amelia Earhart, which I bought there several months ago, fully intending to resell, but then at the last minute couldn’t bring myself to do it because it just looks soooo cool, so decided to keep it on my personal bookshelf for now, at least till taxes come due next year, and what with Obamacare it may have to go but still …
Anyway, I always find killer books there! And even when on occasion I don’t – how can you resist a bookstore that looks like this?
But it’s not just Bart’s that I love, it’s the entire drive from Reseda to Ojai that just makes me … happy. Because I stay off the freeways and main roads as much as possible – so wind up driving through areas that look like this:
and sharing the road with traffic like this:
during the height of rush hour.
So you can see why I say – bookselling beats this:
any day of the week!!
Ok, yes, I know that as a bookseller, I am supposed to hate the Kindle and everything it stands for.
But not only do I NOT hate the Kindle, I own at least 3. The Kindle Fire, the Kindle 3 and the little one with no keyboard and the ads on the screensavers.
Plus I have the Kindle apps downloaded on my Droid and my PC – so actually, 5! That’s right, 5 Kindles!
Before that I had the late and not too lamented “Fictionwise eReader”, which was pretty big but served its purpose.
Anyway, even though I still love physical, print books (and make a decent amount of extra cash trafficking in them on eBay and Amazon), I absolutely love the convenience of the ereaders. (No more carpal tunnel syndrome from toting around the latest hardcover Stephen King book, yayyy!!)
But even more, I love the fact that so many great writers are publishing books, on their own, via Kindle!
Sure, there’s a lot of crap out there – but then, let’s be honest, there’ve always been a lot of crappy books out there. I come across tons of self-published crapola in the thrift stores every day. Poetry, too. Most poetry books are self-published and really, really bad.
But I digress.
What I wanted to say is that I’ve discovered some writers working ONLY on the Kindle right now who are easily as good as any of their print counterparts. And I’d like to highlight two of them in this post: Matt “Wiggy” Wiggins and Tony Rabig.
Matt is a fitness expert – really! And what I love about his eBooks is that they’re short, focused and to the point – and cut through a LOT of the hype about fitness machines, techniques and diets.
For example, his book ““Working Class Weight Loss“.
But no, it’s not! Believe me – I’ve READ enough crappy diet books to know the difference!
It’s actually got very detailed information about setting goals; why just “wanting to losing weight” may not be enough; how to figure out what it is you want; and once you have, how to get there.
For example: Is your goal to be more flexible and healthier overall? Meet the weight requirements of your job? Or just fit into a special outfit long enough to have your picture taken? Those are very different goals and there’s no “one size fits all” plan that will automatically take you to each of them.
So you really do have to sit down and think about what it is you REALLY want. A challenging task no matter what the goal!
And while not sure if it’s in this book or one of his others, I LOVE the term he uses: “BSO” – Bright Shiny Object – about how too many people pick a weight loss/fitness plan, but don’t stick with it because they get distracted by some other weight loss/fitness plan they read about online, switch to that; do that again and again; and thus set themselves up for failure.
Pick ONE sensible plan and stick with it for several months before even THINKING about switching. That’s good advice, and it motivated me to activate my long-dormant “My Fitness Pal” account and start counting calories again.
The second author I’d like to focus on is a gentleman named Tony Rabig.
Tony Rabig is a retired former bookseller, librarian, computer programmer and teacher. So far, he’s only published short stories on the Kindle. But WHAT short stories!
Easily the equal of Ray Bradbury (the subject of one of his stories), Richard Matheson and Jack Finney, and in the same vein,
The first story I read was his “The Other Iron River“, and here’s the description from Amazon:
“The town of Iron River is slowly fading away, declining as its younger people move away and the older ones die. But there is another Iron River — the town as it was a century ago. And if you’re the right kind, you can step back into yesterday, and stay. Paul and Beth are the right kind, but is leaving their own time really what they want?”
I found this while searching to see if anything by Jack Finney (“Time and Again”, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, etc.) had made it to the Kindle yet. They hadn’t. But – another Rabig fan had tagged his stories with “Jack Finney”, so “The Other Iron River” popped up.
For 99 cents, I gave it a try – and was flabbergasted. Mr. Rabig (whose blog is also worth reading, as he sometimes posts excerpts from stories he’s working on!) is easily the best fantasy/horror short story writer I’ve read in a long, long time – and as I said, definitely playing in the same ballpark as Finney, Matheson and Bradbury.
So readers, book lovers, don’t write off the Kindle, or consider it your enemy. Instead, treat it as the convenience it is – a way to carry your library with you when you’re traveling, without having to haul twenty extra suitcases; and more importantly, a way to discover the writers who’ll be inspiring and entertaining people for years to come.
In my last post, I lamented that Cliff’s Books of Pasadena was going to close its doors forever on December 31, 2012.
It’s still sad news that they’re closing but among other things, that’s good news because:
1. They’re still selling everything for 50% off, and
b. it gives me a little extra time to do a more complete blog post, which I intended to do but kept putting off due to Christmas-related issues.
So hang in there! I WILL be doing a more complete “Cliff’s Books of Pasadena” post in January.
Meantime, keep watching the bookshelves …
KEEP WATCHING THE BOOKSHELVES!!!
I had it all planned.
I was going to finish off my Bookstores Across Pennsylvania “series” (or whatever) with an amusing Part 3, about this really bizarre store we stopped in, more like a junk store with pretensions to antiquing, where they had mostly DVDs piled high to the ceiling, and a few books in the basement that were mildewing, and when I finally dug out a first edition Horatio Alger book and took it to the front to ask the price, and they asked “How much do you think it’s worth?” and I said, “Two bucks,” and they laughed and said “Seriously?” and I said, “Okay, one buck,” and finally we negotiated up to ten bucks, which frankly turned out to be way optimistic on my part because I still haven’t been able to sell it anywhere, because the frontispiece is missing and it doesn’t have a dust jacket, and …
Well, the main reason I haven’t done that post, is because I’ve been so happy and relaxed since our trip ended, that I just don’t have it in me to summon up the necessarily irritation to make that an interesting post!
So let’s just finish “Bookstores Across Pennsylvania” by saying it was a wonderful journey, full of beautiful blue skies and fall colors, and on our way back to the train station on Highway 30 from Lancaster to Pittsburgh, we saw a whole lot of really interesting looking antique stores and thrift stores that we didn’t have time to visit, so we’re going back.
Of course, we’ll probably avoid THIS place …
Next post: Cliff’s Books of Pasadena to close doors after 25 years! Noooo!!! (but they are having a cool 50% off EVERYTHING sale. Yayyy?)
Another Pennsylvania bookseller we visited was a wonderful seller from what I’d call the “old school” – DJ Ernst of downtown Selinsgrove.
His description on AbeBooks is as follows:
Established in 1975, DJ Ernst-Books is a small clean orderly book shop located in downtown Selinsgrove, a college town along the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania. My emphasis is on quality of content and condition. Dust jackets and general appearance and condition are important to me. Because the space here is limited, I focus on quality rather than quantity. My store is open six days a week. I personally respond promptly to all inquiries.
I can certainly vouch for the “quality of content and condition”! This was the kind of store that almost made me forget I was a book SELLER, looking for books to RESELL! Shelf after shelf of beautiful, well-cared-for OLD hardcover books in dust jackets protected in plastic, clean and inviting.
I wanted them all – for ME!!!
My husband and I were really charmed and spent at least an hour wandering around, slowly savoring each shelf, picking up book after book just for the sheer pleasure of touching them. It’s THAT kind of bookstore!
I was a bit surprised when it came time to pay for my purchases – Mr. Ernst said he doesn’t take credit cards. Yet he was willing to take my check – even though I was a total stranger from clear across the country! That’s one of the reasons I call him a bookseller of the old school – and actually, I would say that makes him a merchant of the old school. (Though it’s worth noting he does list books on AbeBooks, so he’s not completely out of the Internet loop!)
All in all, my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this lovely bookstore in the beautiful town of Selinsgrove, and highly recommend you visit it yourself, if you’re ever in the area!
And you know – so many bookstores like this are closing, partly due to the economy and partly due to the Kindle, and it’s really sad because they are such a treasure! I hope anyone who reads my blog will make an effort to find and support your own local used-and-rare bookstore – while you still have it!
(In fact, later in December, I’ll be profiling one of those bookstores in Southern California: Cliff’s Books, a fixture of downtown Pasadena, California for over 25 years, which will be closing its doors forever at the end of 2012. Watch this space!)
Last month – just before the Big Storm hit – my husband and I took a trip to Pennsylvania to see the fall colors.
And (of course) to look for books!
Fall colors we saw aplenty! And I’m so happy we were able to see them before winter charged in full-blast.
We also saw books – and some great bookstores – like this one:
Eljays Books in Pittsburgh, PA was just about to start a special event: a “Read-a-thon” for charity! You’ve heard of “walk-a-thons”, right? Where people sponsor you for every mile you walk?
Well, in a read-a-thon, they sponsor you for every hour you read – and the people at Eljays were busily setting up chairs, reading material and, of course fuel (aka snacks!) for the intrepid readers.
But they weren’t so busy they couldn’t find time to be friendly – and I’m happy to say I found some great books there, as did my husband!
Next week: D.J. Ernst in Selinsgrove, PA – selling books OLD SCHOOL!
I’ll get back to my own bookselling updates soon (and I know I’m over a month overdue – sorry! but I did get LOTS of goodies in Pennsylvania, including this little goodie which will be gone shortly, so if you want it, bid now!)!
And I’m a little embarrassed to say that the reason they only have one less-than-stellar review is because of me.
Yes – little ol’ me!
But I think my original review was fair. I’d pulled it up on my original Kindle (remember the old white one? that looks really clunky now but was really cool just a few short years ago?) and was really annoyed to find I couldn’t finish reading ANY of the posts, because there’d just be a sentence or two and then a link to the website.
Well, since I couldn’t always connect to the website (I travel a lot), that was a pain. Hence my original one-star review.
However, this morning I got a nice email from Webb Howell, the publisher of the blog. He asked if I would revisit them and reconsider my review. Apparently since I’m the ONLY ONE who’s reviewed them, that one-star review was really pulling them down.
I agreed, and resubscribed. And am happy to report all the formatting issues have been fixed, and the fascinating posts about rare books and bookstores are just as easy to read as any other blog on the Kindle.
I’ll be updating my review on Amazon shortly – but thought I’d give them a little shout-out here, in my own blog.
Especially since I kinda needed to kick myself in the pants and CREATE A NEW POST ALREADY COME ON!!!
When I was a kid (actually up till the time I was, er, about 35 … ok, maybe 45 … I watched “The Wizard of Oz” religiously, when it was broadcast once a year on CBS.
And when I say “religiously” I’m not kidding. Back in the ’80′s I went to a “Goddess Festival” in Sacramento, California and the featured movie was – I kid you not – “The Wizard of Oz”!
Well, what all this is leading up to is – I’m getting ready to board a train and depart for the wild open spaces of Pennsylvania!
It’s partly a vacation, party a trip with my husband to visit his relatives back East – and partly a business trip. I hope to find some interesting and unusual books to bring home to my Amazon and/or eBay stores.
And I will try to update the blog while on the road too.
Meanwhile – remember – “There’s No Place Like Home!”
It’s funny – once you start looking for books to resell, it’s hard NOT to find them.
For example, yesterday I decided to take a break from what had been almost a week of NO SALES, on either Amazon or eBay.
So I stopped by the beautiful San Fernando Mission, to visit the church and commune with the Lord for a while.
And on my way out – look what I found in the pamphlet rack! This absolutely cool, retro, World War II recruiting pamphlet – aimed at potential nuns!
I took it as a sign from God: “Don’t give up, Chrissy! I’m here and I’ll help!”
And sure enough – I put that little pamphlet on eBay and it’s already got a bid.
At least enough to pay me back for the $4.00 I had to pay to get into the Mission.
(And no, Catholics don’t get in free. You’d think we would, but we don’t.)
Oh well – thanks, Lord!
Recently, I’ve started using baseball metaphors when I’m out hunting for books to sell.
The absolute best, of course, is a home run.
For me, a “home run” is a book that (for example), I buy for $1.00, and can easily resell for $25.00 or more.
A “pop-up”, on the other hand, is a book that looks really good when I’m checking it on the Amazon mobile site on my smartphone – but when I get home and check the full site on my PC, it turns out there are twenty other editions of the same book, all selling for a penny.
So today I went to Pasadena, hitting several thrift stores and a wonderful bookstore called the Archives.
Usually I find a lot of “home runs” there – especially in the “Annex” in the back parking lot, where everything’s a buck.
But today – just a bunch of pop-ups.
Oh well. At least Pasadena was pretty. Some days, that’s enough.