Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2013 Issue

To Co-Op or Not to Co-Op


Booktown. Photo by Rinn Wright.

The combination of fourteen different dealers with fourteen different ideas of how a co-op should function makes for some interesting meetings and discussions. It works thusly; every book is coded and priced by each bookseller. One might find six copies of a book in six different booths at six different prices, or only one book in the entire place dealing with some weird, eclectic subject. Most dealers have a specialty that they feature and then carry other genres as well. For instance, we have one fellow who only has military books. One dealer loves antiquarian and “seldom found” books. One dealer carries an incredible selection of graphic novels, comic books, and related art books. Another dealer only carries unique or scarce LP records and CDS. My category specialties are Remarkable Women in History, Metaphysical (or I call them Woo Woo) books, Western Americana and Native American books, but I also have lots of others. There is one communal display case and one glass case downstairs in the main room with lots of shelves where dealers rotate their displays monthly. There are also several spinner racks and a table in front where special books are offered on rotation.

There is a rare book room downstairs, a recent innovation, and another in the hall upstairs in back of my booth. These areas hold cabinets with the crème de la crème securely locked up. The general overall stock is of a mid- to low- price range with lots of great sales going on in different booths. It is kind of a pain to keep track of who has what sale at any particular moment, but we work it out. Collectors often come in looking for something special and if one of us doesn’t have it, someone else probably does. One never knows what one might find if one looks hard enough. Name a category; there is probably at least one book to fill it!

Many people bring in books to sell. Whichever dealers are on the desk on any given day, have first choice of books that come in the door. There are usually at least one or two dealers beside the ones on duty who catch up any stray books that the first dealers turn down.

Maybe the big benefit to the co-op system is that we don’t have the expense of hiring help because we take turns working, two at a time, in the store. There is no money going out the door for benefits and wages. Each dealer works a required number of hours a month computed on how much space that particular dealer has, and rents are also calculated on occupied space. Booths are all different sizes and if one dealer wants more than one booth, then he or she will pay the rent on that additional space. Who gets what newly opened space is determined by who is next on the list. If a booth is empty, it is not so good, as the rest of the dealers have to split the rent on that space to pay the landlord until the space is filled, but that doesn’t happen too often.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

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