Collecting Rare Books: From Wealth to Weirdness

Written by: Louis Gereaux

Collectors in other fields usually search out hard-to-find items: rareness is valued in and of itself. Rare books are no exception.  However, the word rare does not have the same connotation in book collecting that it does in coin or stamp collecting.  Rare books are not valued because of their rarity alone. A rare book is valued for its content as well as having only a few copies available which must be appreciated by the collector.

James Lenox was an early North American book collector.  He began collecting in the early 1800’s.  At that time there were few rare books available in North America.  He was mostly interested in early, fine printed volumes and manuscripts.  These he attained from Europe when libraries sold off their collections.  He commissioned a spacious building in New York City to house his collection of books which eventually became the New York Public Library, now considered the largest public library in the United States.  There were other larger book collections of more everyday books from the Astor and Tilton families, and Andrew Carnegie, famous for his library contributions, gave a cash donation of millions of dollars to fund the NYC public library, but Lenox provided the rarer books.

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Improving Inventory Turnover in Your Bookshop

The Benchmark of Bookstore Sales Performance

By Louis Gereaux

Many of us who have become bookstore owners have a passion for books.  To live the dream as a professional bookseller, we also need to maintain a strong interest in the basics of the retailing business.  A foundation of the merchandising business is Inventory Turnover.  One turn is completed when all items initially on hand for that year have been sold and replaced by new items.

(Elsie esq./Flickr)

Keeping track of turnover of inventory can be a problem for the used bookstore owner because there will be titles which come into the store and then go out in a week, while other titles sit on the shelves for years.  Many of your titles are unique books that you may only have one copy of. FIFO and LIFO do not make sense in this situation.  Is there anything wrong with keeping a book around for several years until it sells?  A used bookstore is not a supermarket with food that goes bad in a short time.  Additionally, if the used bookstore owner received money for those books which sat around for years, what is the concern?

Your browser may not support display of this image. Whether it appears this way or not, the books that are sitting on your shelves are costing the business money – if not in dollars then in the time it takes to manage those books.  Most bookstore owners have limited space in which to keep and display their inventories.  That space could be better utilized with books that turn more quickly.  As an online business, much time is spent managing inventory and revising listings – time which is best spent on faster turning books.

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Bookstore Speak: Words of the Trade

Bookstore Speak:

Words of the Trade

By Louis Gereaux

All booksellers of used books will have at one time or another come across the word dog-eared.  What does that word mean anyway, and where did it come from?  Dog eared pages are less common in today’s fast turn around of used books. Many used book are almost new.  It might be that more readers are using the bookmarks we stick in our books for sale, who knows?  But the term dog eared means a turned down corner of a book page.  The term originated in the trade because these turned down pages look like the ears of dogs which do not stick up.

This antiquated termdog-eared is no longer used that much in online book descriptions as a result of mass listings, but it should be there.  If for no other reason, there have to be books on the market which have turned down page corners. As opposed to the term binding tightthis is a term that has survived and thrived in online bookselling.  Why switch the order of the words when one means to say the book has a tight binding? That is the original book selling term though, and binding tight is a phrase used to make a strong positive impression on the potential buyer.  It says this is a book which will not fall apart when you receive it – the worst fear of most used book purchasers site unseen.

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