Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2013 Issue

To Co-Op or Not to Co-Op

Booktown1

Booktown. Photo by Rinn Wright.

Our little “Open by Appointment” bookstore is perched at 6200 feet in the Northern Nevada Mountains in Virginia City. But, if it weren’t for my online sales, we could not continue to operate. It is just too small an area with too few local readers. The substantial tourist trade is red necked and blue collared. We didn’t want to quit selling books, because we love it, and besides, the business pays our utilities. We own the building in which our store resides and live above it, so overhead is minimal.

Then, at last year’s Sacramento Book Fair, my friends who are booksellers in Grass Valley, California, told me about their cooperative bookstore. The co-op was looking for another dealer to take some open space in their store. Hmm, we thought, it is only a two-hour drive from Reno to Grass Valley.

Grass Valley and its neighbor, Nevada City, four miles north, are officially designated as “Book towns,” which is a town or village with a large number of used book or antiquarian book stores. These stores attract bibliophile tourists and locals who read a lot. Both towns have lots of bookstores, cultural activities and musical events going on all the time and there are a number of festivals which bring in both locals and tourists from all over the world.

We were invited to the Co-op’s next monthly meeting, so off we drove, over Donner Summit and down Highway 20 to Grass Valley to see if we were suited for the space. I’m not noted for playing well with others or taking guff, so I am always skeptical about group-anythings.

We were quite familiar with Booktown Books as it is a wonderful store where we had bought books on several occasions on the way to and from the San Francisco Bay area. The building which houses this bookolopolis was built before 1930 to serve as a Salvation Army regional office, and later it had many other incarnations, including an unsuccessful spa, until Booktown Books showed it its true destiny. It has been very nicely restored and adapted with a huge, well lighted, open space with high ceilings and lots of windows. The location is fabulous – right in the heart of the historic Old Town Grass Valley which dates from the early 1850s. It is close to a myriad of other fun stores and really good restaurants (which is another thing we don’t have in Virginia City).

We went to the meeting and introduced ourselves to the other twelve dealers. Most of the dealers are long-time, experienced booksellers such as we are. They seemed to respect our credentials and experience, and we theirs. It felt like a good fit. They gave us the lowdown on just what a book cooperative was all about. Several of the dealers took us aside to give us the “dirt” on some of the others, but that’s human nature.

Booktown Books was originally started in 1998 by some of the same dealers who are still there, and kept expanding and initiating new dealers until it moved into the present 4,000+ square foot, two-story building in 2005. Booktown Books is a primo place to get almost any type of book on almost any subject one can imagine.

Booktown offers used, scarce, rare, and unique books, ephemera, books on tape and CDs, and movies on tape and DVD. They also have a great collection of music on CDs and cassettes, and LP records, and even some very nice art. Each Bookseller has a booth space and displays their special genres of books. The store is clean, well lighted, and tidy. The books are clean and neatly arranged.

We decided to jump in with both feet. We took the upstairs balcony for classics and modern fiction and nonfiction in many genres. Upstairs might not have been the best choice because it is rather remote and people are often too lazy to climb the stairs, however, with some creative advertising it should be okay. Most of the other dealers are very cooperative about sending folks upstairs to find books. I also have a half booth on the main floor where I keep my Sci-Fi, Meta, Occult, and Mysteries. We have been in there now for six months and are making our rent and a bit extra each month.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

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