Booking It In Utah
I can't emphasize enough what wonderful, eclectic books he has. He has recently acquired a first edition, jacketed copy of Edward Abbey's best known work, The Monkey Wrench Gang. He has a copy of Grammar of the Hawaiian Language by L. Andrews from 1854. He has a two-foot tall copy of a Dick and Jane book, a very good copy of F.V. Hayden's First Annual Report of the United States Entomological Commission for the year 1877 for those of you who love bugs, a fine copy of Stephen King and Barbara Kruger's My Pretty Pony, and one of 30 sets from 1905 with 18 volumes in cherry red leather in elegant condition, Writings and Speeches of Daniel Webster. And, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
His inventory is varied and profuse enough that it would take a real bibliophile a couple of weeks to look at all the wonderful books. He gives a very fair dealer discount and loves to talk about books and the book business. He rued the fact that his business is down 40% from what it was 15 years ago, but feels that there is still a lot of business to be done in rare and antiquarian books, and that there are still lots of people who want to hold a book in their hands instead of reading them off a computer screen. One problem, he noted, was that the downtown of Salt Lake City, like so many downtowns, has been "malled." Indeed, many of the downtown store fronts were empty.
To quote Tony; "Today, Sam Weller's Books still operates from its fourth and hopefully final location at 254 South Main Street. I assumed full management of the business early in 1997, shortly following my parents' retirements. We continue to stock huge quantities of new, used, and rare books and we're constantly looking for ways to increase our selection. In fact, as I say, 'We have more books than sense.'"
Tony's bookstore is staffed by 40 book lovers, 10 of whom each have at least ten years experience in the bookselling business. "We are known for our breadth of inventory, our knowledgeable help, and our dogged efforts to match books with their readers." Absolutely true, as far as we could tell.
We reluctantly went on to another appointment, hoping to get back later in the day, but couldn't make it. I'd love to go there and apprentice with Tony for a few months to hone my appraisal skills.
The next morning we set out for the long trek home, which we did in one very lengthy day of driving. Though we didn't come home with a lot of books, we did find some prizes. We arrived home with about six boxes of books, spent the night in our own comfy house, and then set out the next day for a book sale in Sacramento, where we increased our inventory by another three boxes. We stopped at the Booktown in Grass Valley, a wonderful co-op bookstore ... look online (www.booktownbooks.com), but that's another story. Finally, we made it home to rest, savor, and shelve our new stock. Adieu until the next time from the dusty, windy desert.