Two Generations in the Book Trade - Looking back with the dealer’s daughter

- by Susan Netzorg Halas

Prints Pacific Today.

10. Know your printing processes, inks and papers.
It is impossible to know everything there is to know about books, prints, maps, photos, and ephemera, but you can easily get a pretty solid grip on the different printing processes used in the last 600 years from the woodblock through metal, stone, photo offset to the present digital print-on-demand.

The better you understand the look and FEEL of each of these techniques the
better you will be able to judge the age of and authenticity of the many things that will pass through your hands.

11. When to cut the price and when to raise the price.
My parents were known to lower the price when the person on the other end of the transaction really wanted/needed and would provide a good home for the book(s) in question. They would also sometimes lower the price when people bought many volumes as a lot, or when the book(s) in question had major defects. They offered discounts to the trade and they often paid a referral fee if a customer or colleague helped them make a sale.

They rarely cut the price if things didn't sell. That's because my dad was pretty good at spotting value. His talent was to know ahead of time what was coming next, so often he bought early, well and ahead of a trend. He assumed that eventually that value would find a market and most of the time he was right.

They also didn't lower the price for people who haggled too much. A little bit of haggling is good; it shows interest, spirit and it’s part of the Gestalt of the occupation. A lot of haggling is a turn off. When people haggle too much it’s time to walk away.

Both my mother and father believed that sometimes things were overlooked because they were priced too low. They would talk it over and then raise the price, sometimes steeply, and more often than not those books went out the door.


12. Move it to sell it

Having a slow week? Sales down? Start rearranging your shelves. Start moving your piles. Take what was on the bottom and put it on the top. Take what was in the front and put it in the back.


You might have 70,000 books or 700 but the truth is you can only give your real attention to a few at a time.


If your sales are slow it’s almost always a sign that you have let your stock sit in one place too long. Books respond to being touched, opened and moved.


If you’re an interior decorator and you want a shelf of matched red leather bindings then you can leave your books in one place forever. If you’re a bookseller and you want to make a living, keep moving them around. The more you physically move them the better they will sell.


Reach Susan Netzorg Halas at