Bookseller Heaven; or The Thirtieth Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar
We needed a little break from all this heady info, so Dan DeSimone and Angela Scott, an expert book conservator and book binder from Washington, D.C., regaled us with a hands-on exhibit of books, binding styles, materials and techniques of printing, binding, illustration, and the like. By this time I felt like someone had blown a balloon up in my brain and I was very ready for the picnic dinner and early-to-bed that followed.
Terry Belanger opened the next morning's classes with a two-part discussion of the bibliographic description of books. He outlined the terminology, formats, collation, history of books, and online resources that all good booksellers need to know. This included a discussion of illustrations, condition, and pagination which was punctuated by each of us attempting to fold a single piece of paper into a duodecimo (12mo) format, as was done by all those fat friars in antiquarian times. By this time, I was boggled but thrilled by the ancient art of book making.
The afternoon practicum on How to Catalog a Book was presented by Rob Rulon-Miller who was joined by Tom Congalton, owner of Between the Covers in Gloucester City, NJ. Tom is an expert on the modern first edition phase of bookselling. This included a student's clinic on book descriptions and we were privileged to snoop through several shelves of beautiful antiquarian books that Rob had brought all the way from Minnesota. We were each asked to pick a book and then try to determine its value. This was where I figured I'd be good, as I am pretty efficient at using reference materials and I've been cataloging books for a long time. Maybe not, too! The book I chose was from 1838 and had to do with deer hunting in Scotland. I fell in love with the woodcut illustrations. I did pick up on the fact that it was a second edition and had been rebound, but it took me longer to run down the information on that one book than it does to do a whole box of books at my shop.
After the break, Angela Scott and Dan DeSimone showed and told about conservation and preservation of books including a fascinating slide show on how books are repaired by conservators. They also talked about whether and when one should repair a book or recover it, and if so, what repairs should be made by novices and what should go to a professional conservator/binder.
After a quick dinner, we were treated to a shuttle trip to Hooked on Books, a local bookstore owned by faculty member Mary Francis Ciletti and her husband, Jim Ciletti. Since Mary and Jim and their great bookstore will be an article by itself in the near future, I won't say too much here, other than they gave a really good, down to earth, no-nonsense talk about how to operate a bookstore.
On the third day, Dan Gregory gave another lecture on the technological aspects of the book trade - photography and scanning books for catalogs or the Internet. Later, Dan DeSimone encouraged us to consider selling books to libraries and other institutions. I guess I never really gave it much thought, though I do sell books to our local state archives and do some appraisals and consignments for them. This whole subject was of vast interest to me and to a number of other attendant booksellers since we are always looking for new selling venues.
Our next discussion by Ed Glaser was a very comprehensive lecture on evaluating and pricing books. I was particularly interested in listening to his talk, not just because of the subject matter but because the scholarship that I won was named after Ed from Edwin V. Glaser Rare Books in Napa, CA. He has been a faculty member since the start of the seminar thirty years ago, and this was the first year that his scholarship was offered. I was quite proud and honored to be the first recipient and to meet this gentleman who is an internationally known specialist in rare and important books on science, technology, and medicine. I thought he might be a bit scary and erudite for a little bookseller from the Wild West, but au contraire he was friendly and outgoing, as were all the faculty. But I digress.