Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2020 Issue

Truisms of the Book Business

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Stan Shelley.

I have been in the used/rare book business for twenty years. Below are some of the things I have learned.

 

If someone is trying to sell you books and it appears they are going to be difficult, it is best to just walk away.

 

In the history of antiquarian bookselling, we live in the age called, “Don’t Get Greedy.”

 

All private libraries of any size must have a copy of Iacocca. It’s a rule.

 

The best title of a nonfiction book: “A Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown” by Robert A. Baker (acknowledgement to Chandler Gordon for this one).

 

Title most frequently gotten wrong: incorrect title, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Correct title: “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

 

When buying books, if a bookseller encounters a book that he/she “must have”, the bookseller can rationalize absolutely anything.

 

Best title of a really good fiction book: The Postman Always Rings Twice by James Cain.

 

Worst title of a really good fiction book: Mildred Pierce by James Cain.

 

When a private seller goes to a bookseller with quality antiquarian books to sell, 90% of the time they have decided whether to sell before an offer is made.

 

When a private individual has a book that you want to buy and they say, “It sells for $200 on ABE,” it is best to reply as follows: “Now you know only one thing for certain. That copy of that book has not sold for $200 on ABE, because it is still being offered.”

 

Almost all booksellers are really nice people. But not quite all.

 

Almost all book buyers are really nice people. But not quite all.

 

Amazon is a marketing company that knows little about books. They have five grades: new, like new, very good, good and acceptable. Most serious collectors want fine or near fine, grades which Amazon does not acknowledge.

 

The best place to buy rare and collectible books is from estates. Not estate sales.

 

The maxim that the three most important things are condition, condition, and condition is not entirely true. If you offer me a signed first of Of Mice and Men in good condition in a jacket, I will be interested at some price.

 

 

Stan Shelley is the proprietor of Shelley and Son Books of Hendersonville NC. Their website is found at www.shelleyandsonbooks.com.

 

Email: shelleyandsonbooks@gmail.com


Posted On: 2020-06-01 17:21
User Name: downtownbrown

As for Title most frequently gotten wrong, I would have voted for The Wizard of Oz (which is the name of the movie - the book was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) or Alice in Wonderland. I've been asked for that book countless times, never by Lewis Carroll's title, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

My favorite non-fiction title is How to Avoid Huge Ships by Capt. John W. Trimmer, a completely serious book about navigating around supertankers (summary: they can't see you, they can't stop, and they won't even notice if they accidentally cut your boat in half).


Posted On: 2020-06-14 20:49
User Name: scientiabk

Title most frequently gotten wrong: incorrect title, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Correct title: “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Another title where "the" is often added:
Correct title: Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species"
Incorrect title: "On the Origin of the Species"


Rare Book Monthly

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