Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2004 Issue

Book Shopping in the Pacific Northwest

Karen Wright shares a moment with a fellow reader in Sydney, BC.


By Karen Wright

My husband and I finally got a chance to take a real vacation where we could do whatever we wanted for two weeks, our first in about 20 years. Of course we also needed to do our annual book buy for the shop, but we think book shopping is actually fun. Or at least, I do, and he puts up with me pretty well.

Let me just say this about book shopping. Most of you readers are related in some way to the book business so you already know a lot about this. You are aware that it has become increasingly difficult for a knowledgeable book seller to find good, high quality books at a price at which one can make a profit. If you are online AND bricks and mortar, the overhead is pretty high, thus you need to get really good deals on books or you can't stay in the business. Even if you are just online, you pay a pretty penny to ABE or Alibris, or eBay (which I don't think is very good media for selling books). So, if you find a good, high quality book for $15.00 at a book store, you can bet that it is probably pretty close to the high end retail price. If you buy it for more than a 20-25% discount, the cost of gas, the cost of utilities for your shop, and the hefty 20-30% you have to pay your internet service provider and your ABE or Alibris percentage more than eat up any profit. That means, to make a profit, you basically have to get the book for about $7.00 to make a profit of $2.00-$3.00. I get pretty annoyed when I see a book that is, at the least, worth $15.00 or $16.00 for sale on the net for $2.00 or $3.00. There is some consolation in that many of these cheap books are ex-library.

Anyway, whining aside, we left our little home, dogs & shop in Virginia City, Nevada, and headed through Susanville, California, where we discovered a nice little book store, Margie's Book Nook on Main St. I found a few reasonably priced books and she gave us a small dealer's discount. We headed to Yreka, California, and spent a couple of days at my husband's brother's farm near Fort Jones. We hit all the bookstores in Yreka, but they were pricey and disinclined to give us any discount until we found The Hospice Thrift Shop on Miner St., which was a tiny little store. They had quite a few overpriced remainders, but I did find a few nice books at quite reasonable prices and the woman was willing to give a dealer discount. There was also a pretty good thrift store on the main drag in old town and we picked up two boxes there. We were off to a good start!

Rare Book Monthly

  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, first hardback edition, 1997. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, July 18: Binding.- Lucian of Samosata Opuscula Erasmo Roterodamo interprete, first Aldine edition, Venice, Heirs of Aldus Manutius and A, 1516. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bacon (Sir Francis). De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum Libri IX, Pierre Gassendi's copy gifted him by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Paris, Typis Petri Mettayer, 1624. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Shakespeare (William). The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry, Sirnamed Hot-Spurre…, Printed by Isaac Jaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Darwin (Charles). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, third edition, presentation inscription 'From the Author' in a secretary's hand, John Murray, 1861. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Teague (Violet). Geraldine Rede. Night Fall in the Ti-Tree, first edition, Melbourne, Sign of the Rabbit, 1905; and another. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: India.- Primrose (Gen. James Maurice). Collection of 24 original drawings from his time in India with the 43rd Regiment of Foot, circa 1855 to 1864. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum, July 18: Manet (Édouard). Trente Eaux-fortes originales, the complete portfolio, Paris, A. Stroelin, 1905. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bible, English. [The Holy Bible], first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], [1611]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: America.- Mathews (Alfred E.) Pencil Sketches of Montana, first edition, New York, Published by the Author, 1868. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bawden (Edward). Original dust-jacket artwork for 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus, [c.1946]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    Forum, July 18: World.- Fries (Laurent). Tabula Nova Totius Orbis, woodcut map, [c.1541]. £3,000 to £5,000.
  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900

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