Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2006 Issue

What's Up and Coming with West Coast Bookstores?

Chab9-06

Steve Blackmer of Chanticleer Books



By Karen Wright

I bopped on down to the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair from my high-on-the-hill shop in Virginia City, Nevada, a mere 2-1/2 hour drive. It was held September 16th at the Scottish Rite Temple and Bruce McKinney will tell you all about it. In fact, I finally had the pleasure of meeting and talking to our esteemed (but retired) leader for the first time. I have been a contributor to AE Monthly for a couple of years now, but we had only met in emails. Bruce and I discussed the book business for quite a while, but he was busily doing surveys so we parted company and I headed for the main showroom and the forty plus delicious book stands that awaited me there. I had been assigned to do an article not on the fair, but on bookselling and its future according to a random selection of booksellers who were at the Fair. The question I started with was "How long have you been in the book business and how old were you when you started?" and I went on from there, more or less.

I began by talking to Steve Blackmer from Chanticleer Books in Sonoma. I have known Steve for some years and have stopped in his store several times or run into him at PBA auctions. Steve began in the book business in 1982 working in someone else's store. Then in 1984, he opened his own store. He has always sold really high quality, general, used books and has recently begun to do more scholarly and collectible books.

My second query was "What percentage of your sales are you doing on the Internet?" Steve said about 50% of his sales are online. He does do his pricing with research online, but finds that he is particular enough about what he buys that he doesn't run into what I call the "16 cent syndrome" which is where one buys a really good book in near new condition for $2.00 at a thrift store or garage sale and then finds it for 16 cents on Albiris or ABE. I asked Steve if he buys online. "Yes," he said, "but not a lot."

My next question was what he felt about the future of bookselling; brick and mortar stores, internet, or book shows? He thought about it for a minute; "All of the above, but there will probably be more online, less brick and mortar. Not just because of the internet, but because rents are getting so high that it's harder to justify a store. Fewer people are coming into stores and just about everyone makes use of the internet so they don't have to go in a store. There is a rather steady decline in the bookstore business."

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>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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