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.
Last year I was working in a Downtown Los Angeles office, stuck in a cubicle, spending most of my days either gazing longingly out the window (from the 48th floor) or gazing longingly at the photo of the beach I had on my screensaver.
And complaining. Mostly because during the 10 months I worked downtown, I totally missed “Textbook Season”!
What’s great about textbook season for small booksellers is that LARGE booksellers tend to throw out, or drastically discount, their textbooks. One local bookstore has the tradition of putting all the books they don’t buy in several cardboard boxes outside their front door. These freebies can sometimes be worth literally hundreds of dollars! Why? Because although this bookstore buys, as well as sells, used books, they steadfastly refuse to buy TEXTBOOKS – which is wonderful for people like me who scour the free boxes daily looking for “paper gold”!
But the best textbooks are not always in the free boxes – sometimes you’re lucky enough to find them in the thrift stores. Of course, that stock gets picked over fairly quickly.
Unless you’re REALLY lucky – as I was today.
Today I had the entire book section of a store I call the “Sad Russian Thrift Shop” (because the nice gentlemen and gentleladies who own it are … well … a really sad-looking bunch of Russians) to myself – and there, tossed in the corner and barely noticeable from the front of the store was an entire BOX of textbooks – completely unsearched!
Using the bar code scanner/Amazon apps on my Droid 2, I wound up with at least three books that will DEFINITELY sell for over $70 each, and several others in the $20-$30 range!
And as I drove away with my haul, which cost less than $20.00 total, I felt like I’d just gotten away with a daring daylight robbery! But it’s all legal – heh heh! (And I did drop a few extra $$ into their donation box at the front counter, to salve my conscience!)
So this year – unlike last year – Textbook Season is the most beautiful season of the year!
For the past year, I worked as a “cubicle slave” in an office in downtown Los Angeles.
There were so many things I HATED about the job – but the main thing was commuting every day. It was just physically very demanding.
However, I did enjoy certain things about it – specifically, the artwork on the walls of the subway stations.
Here’s the one that motivated my book search:
See it? “Last Flight”?
For months, as I trudged into and out of that subway station, I stopped and looked at that book. I had no idea it was a real book – I thought it was just something that was created for the mural.
But guess what? After I left, I visited a marvelous bookstore in Ojai, called “Bart’s Books”:
And there – wayyy up high on a shelf in a room off the main part of the store – there it was:
Welcome home, Amelia!
My name is Christine. A couple of years ago, I was downsized from a job I pretty much hated – except for the regular salary.
Fortunately, my husband was still working full-time, and since we didn’t have any children, he encouraged me to follow my dream of starting my own bookstore.
Of course, bookstores have changed a lot since my younger days. I always thought it would be wonderful to have a “real” store – “brick and mortar” is the term used these days. But the costs involved were too prohibitive.
Enter Amazon and eBay – two Internet sites which made it possible for people like me, who love books and don’t have a whole lot of money, to start and run our very own virtual bookstores!
So here I am – at the ripe old age of 53 – proprietor, owner and sole employee of “C. Lehman, Bookseller” – my dream come true.
And all it took to make it happen was a lousy economy and lots of outsourcing to China.
Er … yay??