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The Strand and the Plight of Used Bookshops

93 years old and still one of the best indie bookstores in NYC. I’ve gone on holiday to the city and spent days lost in the stacks. I loved how they would mail the books home so I wouldn’t have to carry them. Three floors, packed floor to ceiling, sales tables lining the block on which it stands. An amazing place with one of the hardest interview processes for employees. This is the place I dream my store would become. It has been a few years since I have walked the stacks, but when I am looking for a rare item for my clients, I check there first. Today on my twitter field I saw a message:

“Strand Book Store @strandbookstore

We need your help. This is the post we hoped to never write, but today marks a huge turning point in The Strand’s history. Our revenue has dropped nearly 70% compared to last year, and the loans and cash reserves that have kept us afloat these past months are depleted…. ”

In the last few months people have been pushing for Indie bookshops to survive and the public has listened. But people keep thinking that Indie means NEW bookstore, when instead the term means not connected to a chain or publisher and makes no distinction between new and used. Used bookstores are important. Most people do not understand this.

Used books keep people reading. If your budget only allows you a certain amount for books, would you chose one new hardcover or a stack of used paperbacks? Teachers need 40 copies of a book for a classroom? Used bookstores will have a good selection at reasonable prices.

If you end up having to move and need to unload some books, used bookstores are great for that. And when many people do this, you have the chance to find some interesting reads. For example in a used bookshop I once found a paperback version of The Song of Roland which was printed in France in three languages: Old French, Medieval English and Modern English.

Do you have a favorite author that has been writing for decades? Do you know that most publishers will not put any title that author wrote that was published by another publisher on the Other Works page? And when that first publisher is now out of business or merged with another one, how will you find the book? Now the titles are listed online, but only used bookstores carry them.

What about when the author mentions their favorite childhood author and you want to read what they loved? Best place to find them is in a used bookstore.

Want something new to read that is similar to what you like to read? New bookshops tend to have the classics and whatever is “in or popular” at the moment. So finding something that is different can be a challenge. And yet at used bookshops you can see shelves of things that are similar or completely different than what you even though of reading. Catchy titles or just weird covers in styles of bygone years can start a journey into a new reading experience.

Used bookstores are a view into the social past. What to understand why your grandparents, or great grand parents thought and acted the way they did? Check out what they read and you can see how society was being shaped.

Amazon is making it easier to find and buy books on it’s site, but independent bookstores that sell through them barely make a profit off of the sales. (Check out their terms on the seller page, then compare it to the seller pages on biblio.com and others). Online sales are the future and used bookshops are heading that way in droves. But people tend to discard the old. A shiny new book is a great present, but a worn book is considered a bad one. Unless it is rare and antiquarian and that is a whole other topic.

The modernized world is beginning to recognize that the “single use” mentality is a bad idea, and used bookstores are the key to this. Badly worn reader copy books can be used for art projects and home décor. And while they are paper, the processing sometimes makes it difficult to decompose easily- especially the covers/boards. I have seen people who have used them as planters and as small animal beds.

But keeping used books in circulation will help the environment and the economy by letting people spend in small amounts and also prevent over publication of new books. This is a win win situation.

But people need to support used bookshops. I implore you to check out places like Alibris.com, Biblio.com, thrift books.com, hpb.com and strandbooks.com to start and to search for used bookstores near you to find local ones.

The only way for the industry to survive is with the help of society and it is important to society that the industry does survive.

#savethestrand #smallbusiness #usedbookshops

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September First Chapter, First Paragraph :Lola The Buhund and the Empty Sky

Once again we are back  for our weekly “reviews”.  In this series we will offer the first paragraph of the first chapter of a book, some new, some old and out of print and a synopsis of the plot to see if this will be of interest.  In honor of the start of the school year, September will be children’s books month. We will “review” books for younger readers from Kindergarten to Jr. Highschool, offer the Lexile  level (if available)and note if it something in our inventory or not.  The intent behind this simple.  Children tend to stick with what they like to read, and the books used for most language classes tend to be not typically something to catch a child’s attention.  By offering a selection of lesser know, out of print or small press titles this gives the child a chance to read something different, develop a wider world view and, hopefully, create a love of reading.

The other aspect of this series is that most people tend to decide what they want to read by the cover art, or by the blurb on the back.  We all know not to judge a book by the cover because sometimes the artist has no idea what the book is really about. By offering a preview of the opening paragraph  it will give the reader a chance to see the language, flow and possibly the hook of the story.  This is not a traditional review, as we will not discuss the plot of the book at all.  For a more traditional review, please go to our goodreads page. https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/120840365-elizabeth-campbell  where we will start posting this week.

It is our hope that you join us for this month of books and that you comment on what your opinion of the books selected are.  First up is:

 

 

Lola the Buhund and the Empty Sky

Elbot Carman

Valkut Press-2017

No lexlie reading level.

First Paragraph:

The night was damp, yet there was no rain. For almost thirteen years, there had been no light in the sky. Likewise, there had been no clouds, no rain, and no snow—the sky was completely bare. The disappearance of the sun, the moon, and the stars had left the country of Prithvi in a state of limbo. Long ago the tide had stopped and the wind had ceased to blow; the ground grew cold and the forests withered and died.”

Synopsis:

Born into  a world of darkness, Lola has never seen the sun, but a chance encounter with some strangers sets her off on a quest to discover the fate of her world and what really happened to the light.

Does this sound like a book you’d like to read? Why or why not?

 

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Book Review: The Great Good Thing.

Hardcover The Great Good Thing Book

A few years back I came across this book.  As a lover of fairy tales and folk lore I found the cover art to be intriguing, but I wondered if the interior would match up. It did.  This is the story about a story book princess, who knows she is in a story, because all of the characters are acting everything out. The Princess is bored with repeating the story and wishes for more. But years without a reader is causing issues.  One day the characters make a mistake in the plot and the Princess’ dream of having a real unscripted adventure begins.

That alone would have kept my interest. Self aware characters breaking the mold to grow.  But there is more to this book.  In reality this book is about the working of memory, the history of storytelling and the adaptable and collective nature of imagination.

Intended for readers ages 8 to 10, this is a well written book for all ages.

 

 

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Merchandise

It is an unspoken fact that in order for people to remember your business, you not only need good product and excellent customer service, you need a brand.  In order to promote that brand you need merchandise. So what type of merchandise do you need?

That depends on your industry, but for bookstores it is fairly simple and short list.

  • Bookmarks. These are the standard item for a book business. Doubling as a business card, with the store information on either one side or incorporated in the design, these little items can be as cheaply made (off a printer & laminated) or as detailed as you like (carved out of wood). Some people even collect bookmarks. But most people will only pay for  the fancier ones, so if you are  intending to give them away don’t blow the budget on them.
  • Bags.  There are many types, but since every customer needs something to hold all of the purchases, bags are a no brainer. The two most common types are Plastic and Canvas.

                                   Plastic:  Okay no one really wants to use these any more. In fact a growing trend is to ban the use of them. But if you do want to get them, you can have your store name                                      printed on them in bulk.  Now there are some more environmental friendly plastic bags out there, but they tend to be very expensive.

                                    Canvas: These can be made with different cloths, but tend to be durable and are reusable.  Multiple designs can be made on them, all tailored to showcase a different                                         aspect of your brand.  Best of all, they are washable.

                                      Style/Size: The style of bag  is important as well. A square bottom bag is better to hold items securely, but the handles are the most important.  Books are heavy, and                                            if  the handles break the books are damaged.  It is good to offer a selection of sizes as well. Smaller bags (holding a few paperbacks) can be a substitute for gift-                                                       wrapping if the design is good. Larger bags (like paper delivery bags) are great to re-purpose as laundry bags, but fill them with books and you’ll need to start selling                                               pain medicine.

  • Writing Materials.  What goes with reading better than writing materials? Decorative notebooks are a brilliant thing to do, but the market is getting quite cluttered with them.  So unless you have a hook that will make you stand out ( hand-carved wooden notebooks, glitter covered pages and so on) , don’t over do it. Pens and pencils are still a good idea and there are many companies out there that can make this an affordable option.
  • Household items.  This is mainly coffee mugs, and tea cups. Which can be connected to books and reading quite easily.  But some stores make decorative hot plates, coasters and I have even seen utensils.  Once again, the object is to get people to advertise for you, so unless the customer is a professional chef, slapping your store information on a set of kitchen knives is not going to do much for you. And that would also be expensive to make.
  • Apparel. T-shirts, hoodies, scarves, hats and umbrellas are the items I see most often. All of them imprinted with the store’s information and a logo.  Unless it rains a lot near your store, skip the umbrellas. They are expressive to make and sell, and very few people look at the top of one to see the logo.  Like business cards and book marks clothing is the place to go crazy (with in reason). Good quality and a good or unusual design will make them a good add on item, which will then be a constant reminder of your store and brand for months to come.
  • Store Specific.  Some stores already have a brand  item from the start. There is a bookshop that sells teddy bears with the books as a reading device for beginner readers.  So they started to put small t-shirts on the bears with the store name on them. Another store  had a cat mascot, and started selling plushies. Find what is special about your store and see if it is easily transferable . If not don’t sweat it.

So those are the ones that are industry specific.  Brand awareness and the merchandise it  creates can be helpful and harmful to the business depending on how much time and income is spent on it. Remember this is an add on.  If it becomes your business, then that is a whole other situation.

 

Happy Reading.

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What can you do if you love to read?

What can you do if you love to read?

There are many people whose only passion is that they love to read, but while there are many jobs for proof readers and book reviewers, they don’t pay well. So what can you do?

Well you can become a bookseller, a literary scout or even a bibliotherapist.

A what now?

A bibliotherapist is a therapist  who specializes in bibliotherapy.  Bibliotherapy is a creative arts therapies modality that involves storytelling or the reading of specific texts with the purpose of healing. It uses an individual’s relationship to the content of books and poetry and other written words as therapy. Bibliotherapy is often combined with writing therapy. So while you still need to become a therapist, you can now assign your clients books to read to help with their issues. The link below has a better explanation of how this works and  the second one tells you how you can become one.

https://www.booktherapy.io/blogs/news/the-concept-of-book-therapy

Getting Trained

 

 

 

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Reader Information: storing

When you, as a reader, move from having a few dozen books on a topic, to being a collector with a few dozen books on a dozen topics, there comes a problem about where to put them. The last thing one wants is to see their collection warp and become damaged over time. There are lots of considerations to keep track of when displaying  your collection, but perhaps the most basic question you should first ask yourself is whether to store your books vertically in the upright position or horizontally on their sides.

Why is that a question to ask? Because most shelving units are not designed to hold books of different sizes and weights. So unless you want to have two cases for each subject (paperbacks and hardcovers) or three (paperbacks, hardcovers and Quality Paperbacks) most of us start to stack the paperbacks horizontally.  This saves space, at first, and allows you to groups subjects together, but this can place undue pressure on the spines, causing them to sag and crack over time.

So what to do?

Over the years I have tried many shelving units, from the simple homemade cinder blocks and planks of wood, to solid oak bookcases. All have some issues, so as an “expert” on this here are my suggestions.

 When looking for a bookcase

1: MEASURE WHERE YOU WILL BE PUTTING THEM. There is nothing like finding you have misjudged the wall space and now are encroaching on a door way or a stairwell.

2: Look at where your outlets are.  If the only plug outlet in the room will be behind  the bookcases find an extension cord so that you can have some lights in the room.

3: MEASURE WHERE YOU ARE PUTTING THEM.  Yes I said this before. But remember the ceiling. There is nothing like spending good money on a nice 8 foot bookcase to find out that your ceiling is 7 1/2 feet tall.

3a: Also how tall are you? Can you reach the top of an 6 foot bookcase? Do you need to buy a chair or stool to do so? Remember you will have to dust at some point….

4: How many books do you have and how many are you planning to get?  Trick question. The only acceptable answer is: this will be my personal library.

When at the store

Congratulations, you have now made it to the store to get your first of many bookshelves.  Where is the best place to go? Your local bookstore is the best place to see which types of shelves you can get. So go in and see what they have……

And now that you are leaving with a small selection of new books did you notice the shelves at all?

Most new bookstores use solid wood shelving with permanent shelving. Each shelf is 13 inches (give or take 1 inch) in height  and about 10 inches in depth.  This allows for all types of books to be placed spine showing. Most hardcovers are approximately 7 inches in width, with QPs being slightly smaller, but oblong books or art books are a bit longer, so extra space is needed. If your collection does not have any oblong books, then this will allow you to push them evenly back against the backing.

Something you might not have noticed is that these shelves tend to have backs. Sounds silly, but it doesn’t matter if a store is calling it a book case, if there is not a back it is a display shelving unit or a knick -knack case. Your books will fall off, or get damaged if they are pushed against the wall. And oddly enough these will not hold your books. Point in case, two decades ago I bought six cases from Ikea.  Now I love Ikea. Their products are light colored and designed to go together. But I secured the cases against the wall and placed my collection on them, only to notice that after a few months they were leaning away from the wall and sagging dangerously.  I called my local store to see what could be done and they were perplexed. So I took some photos and went to the store. The response was that this was happening because I had too many books on the cases and the metal “x” supports on the backs weren’t designed to hold such weight.  I ended up getting a large piece of particleboard and nailing the cases to this. This was now an almost unmovable 8 foot by 12 foot bookcase.

I love Ikeas’ way of having adjustable shelving, which works well in smaller collections, but for my store, and for anyone who wants to have shelving where the pins don’t break, fall out or just vanish, I’d suggest looking for cases that use a more built  in method. Now I’m not sure what it is called, but the shelves are designed to fit into grooves on the sides of the case. This allows for an even distribution of weight and, if the shelf breaks, makes it easier to replace. The one problem is that those shelves are permanent and thus you have to make sure it will fit the height of your books.

Now if you decide to go with the pegs https://www.woodcraft.com/blog_entries/all-about-shelf-support  can help you decide which one is better for you.

Stay away from press board.  I’m sorry this stuff does not last for very long. Okay, yes it does last a for a while, but when it breaks it is a pain to fix, or replace. Any water damage and it will start to swell. And by water damage I mean having your AC up too high.

Now glass and metal shelving is great for the books themselves, but can be problematic depending on your collection and your life.  Kids and pets can bump into things and if these fall or break, there may be some issues. These shelves are good due to the non- porous nature of the materials. Wood absorbs water over time no matter how you treat it and that can get into the books.  One can delay this by using metal or glass shelving or by keeping the temperature steady in the room. Airing out your collection every so often helps as well. I have found that using contact paper (kitchen shelf  lining paper) on wood shelves helps as well- but that stuff needs to be evenly placed and is difficult to remove. So I  would recommend spending the cash on a good solid wood case that can stand on its own (without needing to be against a wall).

But wait….what about the storing of the books? 

Other Items you Need to have

Book ends.

As a child I never understood why I should ever have them, as any room on the bookshelf was filled with more books.  But a decent bookend will help keep the books steady and prevent them from expanding (remember water is in the air)If you place the bookend with a hardcover they will help prevent the paperbacks from losing shape.

Bookends can be made of anything as long as they are the same on each end of the shelf (if using two) as the pressure must be the same.  You can get them at any bookstore, or even make them yourself. I’ve known people who have used painted Styrofoam blocks and some who have painted bricks. Others have used jars of marbles.  It honestly doesn’t matter.

Risers

This is what I use for my paperback books.  Since most of my collections include all formats of books, I had some of my shelves measured and wooden risers put in  These are shorter than the shelves, and are recessed in. This allows me to put in two rows of paperbacks so that I can see  which ones are there. This works better on shelving that has more depth (like for oblong books). Personally I like them to be shorter than the length of the shelf so that I can adjust them if needed, or if I need to put in a bookend.

When setting up your shelves, just remember that you do need to give them some space. You cannot put them too tightly together or you will either remove all of them when taking one out or never get it off the shelf.

So what are your suggestions for storing your collection? Any particular stores, brands or types of shelves that you’d recommend? Send us a reply and let us know.

Until then. Happy Reading.

 

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New Arrivals: Ancient Africa

Showcased today are titles Ancient Africa. 

First we have two books in the series The History of Africa. These are ex-library books with all internal & external library markings and were acquired from a Jr High School library sale.  Highly illustrated, they give an overview of the cultures and countries from before European invasions. They are priced at $10 each.
Another new arrival is Ibn Battuta in Black AfricaThis book is in Very Good + condition and is being sold for $24. 

If you are not familiar with this writer,  Ibn Battuta was a Muslim Berber Moroccan scholar, and explorer who widely traveled the medieval world. Over a period of thirty years, Ibn Battuta visited most of the Islamic world and many non-Muslim lands, including Central Asia, Southeast Asia, India and China. Until recent decades, most of his writings were not available in English. This gives an interesting view of the cultures for Western readers. Due to a printing error the purple ink is quite blurry on the covers.

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Social Distancing, Stay at Home and Selling

It has been a while since I’ve posted on here. Unique Editions now has an Instagram and a twitter account under Uniqreads. A selection of the books that are coming in are posted on there first. From there they go to the biblio store at www.biblio.com/bookstore/e-campbell-tallahassee

Why are we on biblio.com?Biblio.com is the only independent used/rare/secondhand bookselling site on the English language section of the internet.  The other ones have been bought by the likes of Amazon and other big corporations. Thus Biblio allows smaller, more specialized dealers a platform to reach more collectors without getting slammed by large fees. So please before you look at Amazon for your next book, check out Biblio.com

We are still up and running, having most of the inventory at our apartment and the rest in a storage facility within a dog’s walk away. Every item is kept as clean as possible.

At this time we are mailing everything out with secondhand packing supplies to keep with our policy to reuse and recycle.

The latest focus has been trying to place all of our S.C.A. books online due to all of the shows and events being cancelled due to Covid-19. Fiction and homeschool educational books are also being placed online.  Live videos are being planned and will hopefully be up and running weekly starting this week.

I will also be attempting to place photos on here.

Please come and check us out.

Happy reading!

www.biblio.com/bookstore/e-campbell-tallahassee

Follow us on Twitter  @Uniqreads

and on Instagram Uniqreads

 

 

 

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NEWS: SCADIANS! Ms. Ardis finished her novel!!!!!

SCA-appeal

Help Publish Book “Dracula’s Sword”

DO YOU RECOGNIZE THIS MAN?

SCA-dians choose their personal “identities” and construct their “histories” from any time between 600AD-1600AD and from anywhere—Irish Celts, the British, continental Europe, Russia, Mongolia—even Japan.

Yet one crucial area seems surprisingly overlooked: Southeastern Medieval Europe. From the 10th century on, when Magyar horsemen took Hungary, this corner of the world was a crossroads of nations. By the 15th century Bulgaria was an Ottoman pashalik, the rest of the Balkans principalities Turkish vassals. North of the Danube Wallachia and Moldavia were directly threatened, Hungary, Transylvania and the German Empire at risk.

This man was in the thick of it. He was VLAD DRACULA, PRINCE OF WALLACHIA. Our historical novel, Dracula’s Sword, tells his whole exciting and

tragic story: from boyhood through his 7 years as a Turkish hostage, his three desperate reigns in his princedom and eventual death at the hands of an ally he trusted—Told by his lifelong friend—his second wife.

His Christian enemies called him a berserker. His Ottoman opponents named him  Tsepesh Bey—the Impaler. That epithet still clings to him today. Vlad Dracula was a hard man, but the times he lived in were much harsher.

Fellow SCA-dians–WILL YOU HELP US SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT?

That is what our historical novel, Dracula’s Sword, co-authored by A.A. Welch. and M. Sass, hopes to do. We have found a possible publisher; they read our draft and are very interested—but they are a small independent company. To get Dracula’s Sword underway we need at least $5,000 to cover up-front production costs.

Mark and I are setting up an appeal like this to every SCA Kingdom in America. SINCE THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIA L SCA VENTURE (Although even the Society President has given us encouragement) we are sending this appeal through each Kingdom’s unofficial chat room website. A small donation– say– $5, $10–$25– from individual Society members–or whatever you feel Vlad’s story is worth– would be much appreciated. Such small donations from many individual members of the Society for Creative Anachronism would help us enormously! Reply directly to our:

Go Fund Me Page Link:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-publish-book-quotdracula039s-swordquot

ABOUT THE AUTHORS ==================

Ardis A. Welch (Lady Szilagy Margit, Kingdom of Atlantia, Barony of Bright Hills)

I have been a SCA member for over 25 years: drapier of halls for events, editor of our Baronial newsletter.

I recently did several “show and tell” presentations: one on medieval calligraphy and a display–

Lore of the Unicorn” at our recent Baronial Birthday. ===================

I’ve been working with my co-author Mark for almost that long! I did the research and

mostly wrote draft—in long-hand—I can’t think and type: that’s why I ‘m a SCA-dian!

Then I went to a computer—which is why it took us so long to complete the book.

Mark Sass

Mark is not a SCA-dian. He owns and runs (single-handed) an exercise -equipment repair service for

individuals and large gym facilities. He understands 21st century technology. Fortunately for Dracula’s Sword,

Mark also has a keen and ruthless editorial eye – plus an almost uncanny sense of what Vlad Dracula, prince and warrior, would actually feel and say and do.…..

Mark in costume, on horseback, bears an uncanny resemblance to the 15th century prince Maybe that’s why he understood Vlad so well.