Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2019 Issue

“A Bigger Job Than We Realized:” Revisiting the Published Page in Cleburne, Texas

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The Published Page.

In 2017, when last we wrote about The Published Page Bookshop, owners Jim Hart, and his wife Connye had just purchased a large antique building in Cleburne, Texas on the outskirts of Ft. Worth. After many years of selling books online they were determined to make a go of it as a traditional bricks and mortar bookstore.

 

At age 74 the Harts weren’t exactly youngsters, nor were they beginners as booksellers. They began online in 1997; then moved into an antique mall, next to a regional shopping center in Arlington,Texas. In 2005, when that wasn’t viable anymore, they dropped the store and sold exclusively on the internet for the next 12 years. The last five years they had a 3,000 sq. ft. warehouse. “When the lease was up in 2017, the landlord wanted a lot more money, so we thought it over and it was buy a building or forget it.”


So they took a big gamble and acquired Cleburne’s second oldest commercial space in a two story building with a total of 10,000 sq. ft. of interior space (5,000 on each floor) and features like 15 foot ceilings and art deco fixtures. While taking a brand new mortgage in your 70s is not for the faint of heart, they had high hopes that their bookstore would prosper and help to revitalize the town square of an aging small Texas town.

 

“Our family and friends helped with the move,” said Jim, “we had 30 to 40 people helping with taking stock out of storage, and starting to renovate, getting the shelves up….. It turned out to be a big job….It took four months to get to the point where city would let us open it.”

 

But the couple was filled with optimism: “I made a decision to take everything off line until we got oriented, that meant four months without income, and lots of repairs - some of them were hidden or unexpected. We finally got open Nov. 20, 2017, but we still didn’t have most books on the shelves.”

 

He thanked Jim Arner (a Wyoming retired bookseller) who came to Texas to help them take things out of boxes, catalog, and assist with the many other tasks necessary to get the ball rolling. They went from 2,000 books to 23,000 on shelves by the beginning of April 2018. Since then,” he said, “it’s just about double, we’re up to about 40,000 books.”

 

“That four months with no income was hard,” he recalled, “but even when online business gradually ramped up, it took a long time to recover. In the meantime, Amazon became even even more dominant.” Though the Harts have books listed on Amazon, Alibris, Abe, Biblio, Chrisland and their own site, their internet grosses still were thin.

 

“I don’t like dealing with Amazon,” Jim said, echoing the sentiments of so many in the trade, “I like the B&M alternative; as things go forward I’d like 90% (of our business to be) walk in or people who contact me directly”.

 

As for their new role as an economic engine for Cleburne (population 30,000) it’s been an eye-opener.

 

“The old town square was almost abandoned. There were lots of empty buildings, a little shoe repair place, one store, Brides and Beyond, and no foot traffic. But,” he noted, the presence of the bookstore helped and “over the last six month things are opening up. There’s a coffee shop completely renovating, a couple of nice restaurants, boutiques, it’s really starting to turn. It’s not there yet, but it’s happening. All four streets around our courthouse are major highways, foot traffic is building. The town tells us they love us.”

 

So far The Published Page has initiated an ongoing writers group, “I’d say we’ve got about forty people, extremely creative, one of the most successful things we’ve started. There’s one book club that meets regularly. We’ve had 15 or 20 author signings - all fun, but not all well attended. For one event the weatherman predicted hail, but the show went on anyway. It turned out well, we sold some books and they even asked to do it again.”



On the positive side “Sales go up every month, and that’s with only 3,500 sq. ft. occupied by the bookstore; there’s still plenty of room for expansion. The upstairs will be a treasure, but it will take a massive amount of work to get it going.” He envisions an office complex with lots of antique touches.

 

“Along the way we’ve made hundreds of new friends. We are 30 miles South of Fort Worth and 50 miles Southwest of Dallas. Lots of people make special trips to come see us. Fifty to seventy-five percent of our customers are driving from out of area to come here. Our customers say, ‘I didn’t know a store like that still existed.’”

 

“But as much fun as we’ve had it’s a bigger job than we realized. We just don’t have as deep pockets as we had planned.” The store has run into financial difficulties and fallen behind on mortgage and property tax. “We set up a $10K Go Fund Me Account about a month ago,” he said. “It quickly generated about $2,500 and stopped. We’re right at the place that we need to do something to catch up, and get restarted.”

 

For those who would like to see this ambitious venture climb out of the hole the link to the Go Fund Me Campaign is:

www.gofundme.com/ThePublishedPage/donate

 

They also accept donation via Paypal at

jimhart@publishedpage.com

 

As an incentive the shop is offering gift certificates that equal or exceed whatever amount is donated. “Give $50 get $65 in trade. I’m a total optimist to make this work out. Our income is going up as we’re paying our debts down.”

 

“We are never going to be the largest store in Texas but our goal is to have something unique. We should (eventually) have 70,000 to 80,000 books on shelves. Our stock is mostly out of print and used, you’ll find authors you don’t often see, local and regional history, really concentrated on Texas authors.”

 

He also hints he’s got a stash of petroleum geology books still in storage and he “probably should have gotten that out earlier. I’ve got people who are champing at the bit to go through them.”

 

According to Hart the largest group of customers “are over 60, but we get Millenials and young Gen Xers age 25-40 who like books, and want books for their kids, including old books. What’s really surprising is how many young people are planning to open stores. I’m hopeful it’s a trend.”

 

“Running a bookstore is not a way to get rich, but it is an enjoyable way to spend life. When we had an online business, none of our kids were very excited. Once we bought the building they became much more involved.”

 

As for the future: “I think Cleburne is just on edge of expansion. The new highway has cut down the drive time (from the metro areas). I expect population to double and triple in the next few years. When our bookstore is finished, I expect to see a big increase in value, substantially on the plus side. I wouldn’t mind being wealthy.”

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €

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