Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2008 Issue

Bookselling: Making it Personal

Rose

Our postcard for Rose's Books.


By Renée Magriel Roberts

It is Tuesday morning and we have just finished printing up today's orders. Like most days, it is a mix of foreign and domestic orders. We have one book going out to a customer in Switzerland, two individual books and a set of books going to the U.K.; the rest domestic orders from our rare, used and new book collections. An order that was awaiting payment is moved from the pending/hold pile to the outgoing pile. Several special orders that came in this morning are matched with their order forms. We pick everything from the warehouse and line up all the books with their packing slips, postage and shipping labels.

Most days, I am happy to pack efficiently and accurately, and to do it well. We check all the used books for listing accuracy, and all the new books for any sign of damage. Every book is swathed in a soft, heavy recycled paper. We add the packing slip and invoice, as well as a postcard. This postcard, of my grandmother reading a book (and after whom the store is named) has a handwritten note. This is sometimes just a thank-you which I sign; other times, if I know the customer (or have something else to say), a more personalized greeting.

The entire packet is then bubble-wrapped, boxed in the right kind of packaging, or bagged, and dispatched via any number of services: the U.S. post office; FedEx; UPS; or Pitney Bowes. I've attempted to write down the algorithms for selection of service and appropriate packaging, but largely, they are still in my head, a pile of if-then statements resulting in the best service for each customer, while saving money, if possible, for us.

Most days, accomplishing these tasks would be enough. The effort is huge because we do everything ourselves. We believe that performing these tasks well sends a non-verbal message to every customer: we care about your purchase, and we care about your satisfaction. You have connected with us; we want this connection to be positive.

We decided, long ago, to keep our business growth within our reach. We want to continuously improve our stock, our services, and our customer base. But, we do not want to become so large that we need additional employees or space.

At another level, however, there are other connections occurring. I was reminded of it this week when I received a series of emails and phone calls from different customers. Besides including a handwritten card, we always post our names, email and telephone number on our sites (no hiding under a pseudonym!). We try to make it easy for people to reach us; we're real people and we want real communication.

It was at the end of the day when a man called inquiring about a book by Thoreau. I knew we had it. It was an inexpensive book with a sweet art nouveau design to the boards.

There was an urgency to his voice. He asked if we could send it out express mail the same day. We had already gone to the post office in the morning and my husband was out collecting our granddaughter from day camp. I thought briefly about sending it out with next day's mail, but there was something unsaid that made me think otherwise.

So, when Mark came back I ran out with the package, told him not to bother turning off the car, and sent him off to the post office before it closed.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Rackham (Arthur). The Old Hag Standing Outside a Cottage, original drawing, signed by the artist, [c.1909]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> FIRST EDITION, first printing, signed by the author, original pictorial wrappers, 1997. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Castiglione (Giuseppe, after). Twelve plates from <i>Twenty views of the European Palaces of the Yuanming yuan,</i> 1783-1786. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Spanish Antiphonal.- Antiphonal manuscript, [Spain], ca. 1650. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Almanach de Gotha.- Almost complete run 1769 to 1945, 12mo & 8vo, Gotha, C.W. Ettinger [- Justus Perthes]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Bible, Greek.- New Testament [Greek], Novum Iesu Christi D.N. testamentum, ex bibliotheca regia, 2 parts in one, Robert Estienne, Paris, 1550. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Lithgow (William). <i>The Total Discourse of the rare Adventures… from Scotland, to the most famous kingdoms in Europe, Asia, and Affrica…,</i> woodcut illustrations, 4to, I. Oakes, 1640. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Spanish Interest.-16th -18th Century. Large collection of letters related to prominent members of the Spanish court and clergymen,; v.s., late 16th-mid 18th century. £1,800 to £2,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Darwin (Charles). <i>The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex,</i> 2 vol., FIRST EDITION, first issue8vo, John Murray, 1871. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Loewy (Raymond) ARR. Mickey Mouse, original gouache and air brush illustration of Mickey Mouse, signed by artist., n.p. [1946]. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Potter (Beatrix) & Sendak (Maurice). <i>The Tale of Peter Rabbit,</i> NUMBER 2 OF 250 SIGNED COPIES, WITH AN ORIGINAL DRAWING BY SENDAK, New York, 1995. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Wolstenholm (Jonathan) ARR. Books on Books, original watercolor, signed and dated by the artist, 2005.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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