The topic of finding stock is a never ending one. You’ll find many articles about this topic on this blog and on other blogs worldwide. Each country/region has it’s different challenges and Australia is no different. I find my books in so many different ways: op shops; garage sales; online auction sites; deceased estates; and on one occasion, by the side of the road. One place I’ve never tried as I presume I’d get really carried away is real life auctions.
I was reading an article in a blog about sourcing quality inventory and it got me thinking. Now, I’d love to try his method of seeing the list of books online, checking out their prices and then putting the bids in or just ordering them and it’s unfortunate that the cost of postage is too prohibitive to make his methods worthwhile for me. Unless you’re buying in a whole container load of books then it’s just not worth the money and even then you need to know that each book in the container is worth a decent amount of money and only cost you peanuts as it would cost a lot of money to ship a container load of books from USA to Australia; it’s such a long way. I do have friends who do this but I suspect it’s not for me as yet.
The article did get me thinking about buying books at a real life auction. I started doing a little research on auction houses in Melbourne and immediately found a rather famous one (well, famous in Melbourne) which moved into an old school in South Yarra a few years ago. I’m going to digress for a few moments; it’s such a lovely idea to house your auction house in an old school. It would make it possible to separate your particular lots away from one another and to also have separate offices of a decent size. I often wonder what type of building would make the best bookshop and I think an old school would do quite nicely. I like to imagine horror having a room to itself with science fiction, fantasy, children’s picture books, children’s chapter books and all the other genres having a room to themselves. Wouldn’t it be nice to be given a map of the school with the particular rooms with labels appropriate to their genre?
Anyway, back to the auction house. They have an auction on tomorrow morning which I’m not going to be able to get to and some of their lots are for shelves or part shelves of books. The descriptions include: shelf of hard covers includig (sic) biographies; shelf of hard covers including Australiana and so many more. Then there’s one list for Norman Lindsay The Magic Pudding The Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum Angus & Robertson 1918 First Edition Hard Cover with Dust Jacket for which they expect between $1200 and $1500. This is a wonderful fantasy book and I’ll have more to say about it on my blog in due course as it relates to books and not bookshops. It would be possible to pick up some wonderful books at some quite decent prices and then sell them in your bricks and mortar bookshop or your online bookshop. While I won’t be attending tomorrow’s auction I do intend to visit them on some other occasion with someone under tow to make sure I don’t spend too much money.
[editor’s note: Do you have some experience or expertise with buying books at auction? We’d love it if you could share a story or some advice with us.]