New Year Resolutions 2017
David Gauld, Music, 1889, oil on canvas
Presented anonymously, 1999
GLAHA 52245 Hunterian Museum
Happy New Year one and all. To family friends and customers the ending of an old year is always a mixed time, goodbye to a good or bad year. We are still standing so this year particularly is going to be a challenge. We are strong human beings and we rise to a challenge so whatever is thrown at us we will take on.
I am making no New Years Resolutions, just hope to do better in everything and de clutter the book piles. I think a few will set high goals and achieve them, others will be back to old ways in a couple of weeks, so smile and cut yourself some slack. Getting through this crazy fast paced demanding world requires all our skills so just pull up a chair and settle into a good book and escape the world, slow your heartbeat and peak your creativity. I have a shop full of amazing books and I can prescribe a novel cure for life’s ills should the need arise
May 2017 be everything you are hoping for I wish you health, happiness and prosperity and a year of books, nothing beats it.
Tony DiTerlizzi – “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” ―T.S. Eliot
Set a new reading goal for 2017
Read a classic
Do not begin with War and Peace but set a couple of books you have always meant to, wanted to or need to read in the TBR pile
Read some Non Fiction
Even if fiction is your only love find a biography and give it a go. History well written is as compelling as any novel.The reverse of course is true read a well written novel if all you ever read is non fiction Its all about the challenge
Create a TBR pile ,
A To Be Read pile that is actually achievable and allow yourself the palette cleansers, ie crime fiction,romance,Billy Bunter books whatever floats your boat, in between It works for me. No matter the mood I always have something to enjoy
I cannot believe we are at the eve of Christmas Eve.
Caroline Magerl did this lovely cartoon makes me smile every time I see it.
I am certain there must be a name for such a day but it has been hot and busy and I have had a lovely few days with customers popping in buying gifts and dropping off gifts which always delight me and I am very thrilled.
I find this close to Christmas people are looking for gifts for their most beloved or for folk they do not know or like much.Its the story of a new partner to a sibling or child or indeed an existing person who requires a gift but just something. It is also for that last special gift that has been waiting to be rescued from the shelf. There was a story in my childhood about a doll left on the shelves at Christmas, thinking she was the only doll not to have a family at Christmas but of course someone at the last moment bought her as their very most special gift. Sometimes its like that. I know you all think I am daft as a brush but sometimes beautiful books go to the very best homes, the people who will really treasure them.
I have had lots of bibliomites through, choosing a special Christmas book or a book for their parents or siblings, they are excited and happy and it reminds me the magic is all about the children.
I have one last day to trade and it will be fun. then its home to a quiet family Christmas Eve and day.
We wish you and yours A Very Merry Christmas, whether it is hiding away with a good book and a can of baked beans or with a huge noisy fabulous crowd, may it be peaceful and enjoyable and exactly the way you want it.
We have just had a hellishly hot week and yet compared to poor New Zealand earthquakes, the American elections,Scotland losing the rugby by 1 point and the destructive storms cutting a swathe through Australia it seems a petty complaint.
I am beginning to fill the shop with new titles after our usual October Sale.well more accurately I am cleaning and reorganising and playing Tetris with the shop. if you think there is a particular title or author or genre you want for Christmas for someone just ask. I have easily as many books at home as in the shop and try as I may getting everything online is impossible. I have had conversations with customers who have bought,paid for and wrappped all their gifts for Christmas, I am one of those who will be wrapping Christmas Eve so that is a mystery to me. I do in my defence have three birthdays in October and November so do not turn my thoughts to Christmas till they are all past but even so I like the buying in the season thing.
I am looking this year for the unusual,the vintage and am also looking forward to highlighting some affordable gifts and ideas.It will take a week to clean and tidy but already its looking better.When things get tough and I have no doubt it is tough a the moment the generous at heart go out and spread good will. It does not have to be expensive it needs a kindness, a small token or a well thought out small gift. A box of chocolates or a pair of socks are nice but a book will last and enrich your life for a few hours,days,months or years depending on the title.Find out the book that someone remembers and longs to read again.There is still time to find things.
I do need to know more than the colour to find something so get clues,any information helps.
GARDENING IN THE HEAT November 2016
It is hot and the air con is on,its a glorious Saturday but the Coast is heading into a long hot summer.My dear friend Jean was talking about crunchy grass and that is exactly what happens.When you first arrive here you want to plant exotics, after 16 years I want anything that will not turn its toes up in the heat when there are water restrictions. I have noticed this year particularly people are going back to buying the books on Australian native plants and those specifically suited to the sub tropics.We have a fairly big gardening section in the shop and I love garden histories and biographies. Japanese gardens do well here but you have to choose your species.The zen gardens are becoming more popular in small suburban plots.Garden beds for vegetables and fruit trees. We are looking to be a tiny bit self sufficient. I always have basil,herbs & salad leaves This year we are planting some fruit trees to replace the toxic trees planted by previous owners.
We are so lucky in Buderim as all through the year the most beautiful shrubs and trees flower to attract insects and birds so all the purple flowers and trees are out now.
Today the Sunshine Coast saw a mass migration of these glorious butterflies the Caper Whites (Belenois java) species.It was a sight to behold.
The most spectacular purple trees are the Jacaranda trees and they are spectacular this year, the lack of water and storms mean the blossoms have lasted longer so there are always compensations. Later it is the poinciana and flame trees appropriately for Christmas bright red.
Mangoes are arriving in the shops fresh a lush and now through to Christmas.As a child I looked forward to a mandarin wrapped in paper here it is cherries and mangoes.
The glorious thing about books and living amongst them is the capacity to learn about the great gardeners or the tiny wildflowers as opposed to weeds.I have always read about the British designers but now am spreading my reading to exotic gardens in Mexico and Bali or reading about the plant hunters and collectors.
It is much too sunny and hot for gardening today so I will go home and pull out some books and browse through for some inspirational gardens.”Alan I quite like the look of this view with the lake and bridge.at Stourhead, Could you just recreate it in the back garden?”
I sometimes wonder if anyone even notices the lists and catalogues on the website but then a customer will come in and ask for something they have spotted online.I do have a notice up as many of the books on the website are stored at home.but it is lovely to have the work acknowledged
The best thing about bookselling?
The books absolutely and never quite knowing what I will buy next.Anyone who knows me knows I am very fond of books of all shapes and sizes.I get quite as excited about a small booklet as an expensive volume.I love to find an unusual item for a customer, something they did not even know they wanted. I love the discovery of something pretty,unusual,nostalgic but also the rare.I love to read and the studious side to book selling suits me to a t.I love to do a thematic list.I get to know the books and I enjoy them showing each other off. Hence this month a Fashion, Halloween and a Horse list to celebrate the madness which is the Spring Carnival in Australia culminating in the Melbourne Cup.Vintage books on horses are beautiful and many of these came from the Ken Austin Inglewood Stud library and have little association extras.
Take note of these in books you own The provenance of a bookplate or signature will often take you on an unexpected bibliographical journey. for example modern authors flat sign copies of books in shops. That means a signature on a title page usually and they may sign hundreds. They may also do a bookplate signature which means yes they have signed it but probably no where near the copy of the book.These are designed to be stuck into the book.The really interesting signatures are those with an extra.Virginia Woolf to Vanessa Bell, Evelyn Waugh to Nancy[Mitford]or in a particularly interesting recent case a signature of Darwin dedicated to a friend.Darwin was not a signer of books so that is a rarity. Apparently Thomas Hardy had a whole room of books sent to him to be signed he never returned to the senders.
Bookplates are a whole musing to themselves I feel but they will often lead you to a fine private collection and thus to a provenance adding to the interest of the book and sometimes can increase the value dramatically.
The second best thing ?
My customers. I have some days been known to spend far too much time discussing with them points of books or authors.I love to learn from enthusiastic collectors I adore the variety of their collecting passions.I also have many customers who just want one book.Finding the right copy with the right dust wrapper,or illustrations, can be a challenge but its rewarding. I love it when you see the look of sheer delight on a customers face when you do get it right.
I am also very fortunate,I think I have some of the nicest customers in the world. last week in one day I received a big stalk of bananas and beautiful honey from one, a dozen organic eggs from another and a third bought me a small bunch of stunning perfumed roses.My next door neighbour also handed in a packet of chocolate nuts to try for Christmas.I think Alan was wondering if I had taken to a barter system. People are kind and I appreciated every gesture.it is also very Buderim where people grow and make things and share them.
I am going to get on with further online lists and such but the shop has a magic of its own.It is untidy and a bit chaotic and I will get it organised better but it is also full of books that do not appear in new chain bookshops and there is often a customer discussing books over a coffee.
Christmas is looming so I will be doing a few other lists this month.Remember we have thousands of books which are not as yet listed so if you are after a particular title just ask.I will do my best to find it. We can also offer a gift wrapping service and will post books off for you.
Warm weather is upon us and life is very pleasant.
NOT DROWNING BUT WORKING
We have a small shop in Buderim in Queensland, we operate on Buderim time 9-4 or 4.30 depending on the weather and the footfall. We open the door of the shop to the world all through the winter, autumn and spring barring the really horrible rainy days in storm season. In the summer the sliding door is closed with a large sign saying please open or close as we are running the air conditioning. At the moment the air is ripe with the smell of jasmine which is everywhere and coffee from the shop next door. It is casual and I hope inviting. I often have customers chatting on the sofa and I really enjoy people. Books are my absolute passion so the shop is ecclectic but ask and I will try and find anything for my clients.
I sit behind a counter which is completely surrounded by books or more precisely piles of leaning books. Almost every person either says I am hiding behind the books, or they swear I will be found under the piles of books or they shout Hello loudly as they come into the shop, lest they have to spend more than 2 seconds unattended. I am working collating, cataloguing, checking and cleaning books, I am not hiding and although the books look precarious they rarely if ever fall and have only hurt me in a few instances, heavy books on sandal clad feet usually and that is my fault not theirs. The problem is that in previous shops we have had back rooms, store rooms, areas dedicated to work out of site, here its me and my book nest.
Caroline Magerl drew the illustration at the top of the page after visiting the shop a month or two ago.It is only a tiny bit wrong,the piles are a touch too neat. http://www.carolinemagerl.com/
We now house all the antiquarian and a large portion of the rare and unusual at home. The shop is full to the brim. It is an old fashioned shop and requires an input from the customers. It is organised and arranged but not every book is shown front side out. One has to read spines and delve through the odd catagory which shock horror are not in alphabetic order. I explain to customers that the alphabetical order needs 24 hour maintenance as browsers rarely replace the book where it was found. I watch bemused as they allow children to push the books back on the shelves.
I am disturbed by the newest horror which is bringing mobile phone conversations into the quiet of the shop and assault me with loud conversation often on speaker phone. I know more than I want to about many peoples lives. Polite people leave the shop with their mobiles. I have taken in my older, grumpier guise to turning the music up now when begin talking loudly.
I love book chat and relish my customers and their insights, but am over folk coming in telling me they never read a book, or insisting loudly that noone reads real books when they can use an ereader, usually in front of real book reading customers. I suspect these people do not read anything and just want to elicit a reaction. This is becoming an every other day trial however and therefore worthy of comment.
I do love customers who come in and breathe in the book aroma. You get to recognise real book people who head straight in confidently and browse, they do not pick up one book on each wall, only one mind, and then leave abruptly. They ask questions about the books they want to buy and will enjoy a moment of book talk.Even if no purchase is made there is generally a pleasant interaction.
I too have been in shops that were not my cup of tea, I admit it, shops with too many books in multi floor buildings with not a book in the lot for me though they may delight others, or found myself in exclusive salons with stratespheric prices for books I only dream of owning, one can fantasise and leave with grace and often longing. Bookshops I would love to buy from but cannot afford. One does not wander around loudly complaining that the prices are too high and the local charity shops only charge $5 for a hardcover, not this particular hardcover but the same sort of thing. Do I explain once again that I actually pay for my books and that they are unusual or do I bite my tongue and hope they will leave.
A portion of every day is given over inevitably to looking at books for people, sometimes for me to purchase, often too far gone, sometimes just wanting a valuation “so we can sell it on ebay”. I do not resent this time but it is intrusive when they just want free valuations and then do not believe your assessment, well its just rude.My opinion is only of worth if your books are of worth,seems a poor exchange of 45 years of experience. Then there are the people who will march in and interupt, well anything, a sale, a valuation, a queue, to ask directions. While I recognise I am the font of all knowledge, I am not the only shop who knows where the loo or the shop that sells organic bread is. Such intrusion is rude and disrupts the flow. If I am on my own and the enquirer is polite I happily direct.
I can often decipher the name of a book from a brief precis but an enquiry when the only information is the colour and size of book and that it had coloured illustrations will foil me. No matter how hard you push the point it was about this square had a blue cover and was illustrated,unless I know author, title of story,or have some vague description of the plot or character it will be too hard.
I wonder if after 45 years I am just weary of the same lines. but I think its just rudeness that is irritating me. This age of ‘I Am”and I will do what I like when and where I like is irritating me.
Please say hello when you come in and goodbye when you leave, its a small nicety and appreciated whether you love hate or are indifferent to the shop, its mine and you have wandered through it.
Please do not bring in coffee, cakes, crisps or hot chips, or children bearing these items. I hate having to ask you to put them down when you look at things. When did it become essential to eat and drink 24 hours a day on the move?I love bibliomites and in the main, unless their parents allow them or indeed encourage them to behave badly I have fun watching them discover new titles.I have many young customer who delight me.
Please take your mobile phone calls out of my shop. I have it quiet and with music playing because I like peace, I do not want to know about your affairs or affair.
If I am dealing with someone please wait I will get to you as quickly as I can. I know your time is precious but I do my best.
Please, please do not come in and insult my books and my shop. This is my passion and I do not come into your home/workplace and declare you are a waste of space. if you hate books, my shop, me, just give me a wide berth, I live a charmed life, I love my books, my shop, my study, my customers. I live in a warm comfortable balmy beautiful place. I have earned it all and maybe I am eccentric but its only a tiny corner of the world and some people find it magical.
1984 and the Memory Hole.
An ongoing, everyday topic of conversation in the shop is ereader versus book. I am not an ereader but really have none of the horror filled reaction to them that customers seem to think I should. E readers it seems to me, fill a place in the world of reading, they save trees from multi volume sets of “Billionaires as Boyfiends in Disguise ‘or fantasy worlds of erotica with vampires. I am all for students accessing textbooks at prices they can afford and they are great for travelling or when you need a really impossible to procure out of print book. I completely love that we have choices and if ereaders do it for you and take your literary fancyJ, brilliant. I did have a six year old in the shop telling me he spent enough time on computers and books were altogether a different pleasure, so I hope the joy of reading real books remains with children. Curling up on Mum or Dad’s knee to read could never be the same with a screen or is that just me?
A couple of weeks ago the New York Times published an article on a particular aspect of ereaders, more correctly Amazon kindles which opened my eyes to a dark side. On a particular Friday all copies of 1984 by George Orwell were wiped from kindles across the USA. No notice, no warning. In 1984, the book, all propaganda or unflattering articles against Big Brother were sucked down the memory hole chute, drawing inevitable comparisons. Copies of Animal Farm were also erased. The phenomenon on the web forums also pointed to deletions of Any Rand and Harry Potter all due to copyright issues.
The customers had purchased their ebooks in good faith but it seems Amazon has access to all kindle content and were able to just remove the books they were having copyright issues with, without consultation or recourse. Had they sent human beings into peoples homes to seize real books we may have heard a great deal about it. Instead it was quietly underplayed. The internet of course picked up on the story through The New York Times and that has led to more speculation than Amazon would like. I think the shocking thing to me was that unlike recalling cars for faults they just stole the offending books back without compensation or permission.
Students were left without their notes on 1984 and Animal Farm, others were merely outraged that books could be randomly erased after they had been purchased. According to the NY Times “Digital books bought for the Kindle are sent to it over a wireless network. Amazon can also use that network to synchronize electronic books between devices — and apparently to make them vanish.”
The fact is you do not own the copies of books you download. You cannot sell them, lend them or rely on passing them onto your heirs. Noone is going to thank you for passing on your ereader in quite the same way as passing on your carefully collated personal library. I think the days of real book collections are safe, not just for we crazy book lovers but maybe now for those who want to retain a book first met on an ereader.
I am beginning to encounter the bookbuyer who has abandoned their ereaders because the books are now expensive to download, they cannot share them around, they are lost if a device breaks down and now can be blocked or removed remotely. People like to share their books, the wonderful novel, the lightbulb moment in a self help or spiritual work, the humour, sadness, illumination or simply the beauty of a work of art. They like to discuss and borrow another persons books. The ereaders are here to stay I have no doubt but the novelty has worn off and I do believe a combination of books and ereaders can sit nicely together.
An authorized digital edition of “1984” from its American publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is still available on the Kindle store The work remains under copyright till 2044 in the USA I believe though it is out of copyright in the Australia, Canada and Russia where it is offered free to all comers. Amazon were obliged to remove all copyrighted books from their catalogue, the manner of the extraction is the issue and has highlighted the fact that your ereader content is open to deletion without your permission.
I still manage to sell every copy of every book by Orwell whenever I get my hands on secondhand copies. Orwell knew a thing or two about dystopian societies and so many of his predictions sadly have come to pass. Down and Out in Paris and London is as relevent today as when it was published but who would have thought our personal reading devices were so vunerable and monitered. I assure you any book we sell you is yours outright,without any strings or caveats and I have no intention of coming into your home one Friday and repossessing it.