Susan Heller: Book Dealer at the Crossroads
Driving this decision is a place just four miles away where friends she has known all her adult life live. Her home is simply too much house and too much responsibility, the chores that twenty years ago were shared now hers alone. To move she needs to sell her inventory of almost 15,000 items. From a set price and a sale date unknown the pendulum swings and it now becomes on a date certain at a price unknown. In the book business it is almost always this way. It's a great affair but a treacherous divorce. It's why so many book dealers and book collectors die with their books on the shelves. The triage that follows is more easily done by they who feel no loss.
Over the past several years she has continued to post and to sell online but, as it is for most book sellers, it's a slow process. She laughingly estimates needing a hundred years to clear the shelves, an indirect way of saying the next stage, forced sales, is at hand. More than a year ago, New York dealer John Dolan made a substantial purchase. Recently he described Susan as a tough negotiator and, "at that time not ready to seriously discount to move the material." Now Susan has sent a few of her more prized items to Aspire Auctions of Cleveland to be auctioned electronically over 8 days: May 11th to 18th. They are accessible via a link at the end of this article. On Aspire's site they are accessible from the 4th. It's a test and the market will soon render a preliminary verdict. She'll then send more material to the block or dispose of it privately.
So Susan is one of the brave ones. We have spoken about this many times. Her children lead busy lives and her gift to them is to leave a clean slate, all material converted back to cash, every hope, every dream converted back into dollars and cents. Whatever it will be it will be. She will handle it. She knows that material she deeply values will now, in the arcane mix of auction results, yield bargains to buyers. So be it. It will also yield freedom to move and freedom for her family from clearing the material later.
Now, looking to that moment in the not-so-distant-future when the last book is boxed and mailed, Susan grows anxious to move on. What three years ago was a general desire to retire is now the next step and it's one she doesn't want to delay.
In the gentle calculus of money versus time, time should always win. Too soon, the money will matter not at all.
A list of the material posted with Aspire is found here.