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Re: Readin', wRitin', and Radio (yak)

Hello Charles:

Yes, of course you are correct. No sane person would try to run a small
bookshop just to 'make an income'.

In my own case, I carry about 20,000 mostly out of print hard cover titles in
numismatics, philatelics [coin and stamp collecting], and other rare
collectables like antiques, porcelain, book collecting, etc.  You would be
staggered at the value of my investment in inventory, equipment and supplies,
and at the amount of physical labor and time involved.  After many years in
building my business, people now write or come to see me from all over the
world when they want a book in one of these specialities.  Nevertheless, when
it comes to new books, and since many new hard cover titles have become very
expensive, I will carry it when it first comes out, but if it does not sell,
and unless it is a standard reference, I will get rid of most or all of it. If
I do not, the publisher is likely to remainder the title for a few cents on
the dollar, then my stock becomes unsaleable at any price, and I have a bad
loss.  If I make this mistake a few times, then the only thing that I will
have in stock are books that do not sell. I will then be broke and out of
business. It happens all the time.

The first order of biz for a small bookshop  is to stay alive. Niche markets
and out of print books are the only remaining recourse. New books are now too
heavily discounted to make them a viable business.  As to profits, I have
never met any wealthy neighborhood booksellers who made it in books. Most of
us sell books because we love books. All of us try to make a contribution to
the community.  We purvey esoteric knowledge. We try to enlighten by
presentation to our clientelle of the best books and materials we can get. We
specialize. We go nuts trying to keep up with shoplifters and government forms
and regulations designed to put us out of business. Most of us also know that
books can not be 'hard sold' like a car or a commodity. They are simply
'purchased' by people who make up their own minds about what they want and can

Art Rubino
Numismatic & Philatelic Arts of Santa Fe
Antiquarian Booksellers

From:   The Book Arts: binding, typography, collecting on behalf of Charles
Sent:   Thursday, May 22, 1997 09:02
To:     BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject:        Re: Readin', wRitin', and Radio (yak)

At 06:57 AM 5/22/97 UT, you wrote:
>As a small independent  bookseller myself, I would like to pose the following
>Why should any bookseller, always strapped for cash and shelf space,  carry a
>title that does not sell?  What is the point?  This is the domain of the
>library I think.
not "should," but it's nice when they do, at least sometimes. I've known a
few people who have owned bookstores, and it seems to me they all do it for
different reasons. Strictly to make an income, without any thought for
having a particular kind of bookstore, a particular kind of client, a
community mission of sorts -- is, among the people I know, the rarest of

Libraries are rather stuck, too, at least the public ones. They have to
have their 50 copies of pop titles (Judith Kranz, etc.) because the public
wants them. And there goes their budget, so they can't get the small press
items. The average poetry section at a public library is not much better
than at a mid-sized Barnes & Noble. Slightly better at the really big
Barnes & Nobles or a Borders.

charles alexander / chax press / chax@xxxxxxxxxxxx

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