AT: One thing that I was really interested with – among many fascinating entries and facts in your father’s autobiography – was the fact that you were schooled in the rare book business by your father. Can you talk about this a bit?
MAF: Yes, that’s right. I learned literally at my father’s knee. Now I use this knowledge to take care of running the day to day aspects of the place.
AT: You couldn’t have had a better teacher.
MAF: No, that’s certainly true. He was a great bookman and I learned a lot from him, more than I can adequately summarize.
AT: OK then, let’s move on. I want to ask you something about how you conduct your business today. In Mr. Kraus’s book he describes the painstaking lengths he would go to to win over a customer and keep in contact with collectors. This is a book selling model that you don’t see as often today, but I’m assuming that you still follow it. For instance, when I looked up your site on the internet I did find a home page but I’m assuming, perhaps falsely, that you don’t do most of your business over the net. Would you care to comment on this?
MAF: Well, our own web site is under construction. What you can do from it now is basically email us with inquiries.
JL: But I should add that a selection of our stock is available on three different internet sites: on Bibliopoly.com, on worldbookdealers.com, and on ilab-lila.com.
AT: Yes, I found the worldbookdealers.com site. I didn’t visit the other two you mention, though.
JL: Well, if you go to any one of them you’ll find about 500 titles listed at any one time. This of course is a fraction of our stock but it does give people an idea of the sorts of books and titles that we carry.
AT: Which leads to my next question: some people – myself among them – feel that the role of book dealer as mentor is something of a dying art. Your father [gesturing at Mrs. Folter] was a genius at mentoring collectors, it seems. How important do you think the role of rare book dealer as mentor is and to what extent do you feel that role has shifted in this modern internet age?
JL: I personally feel that there is nothing like maintaining a personal relationship with your customer, courting collectors over time if you will. This is the way that business is still conducted at H.P. Kraus, Inc.
MAF: I would really like to second that. The kind of material we sell, people are not going to put their credit card information in anonymously to buy it. Certainly not