The vagaries of age

A very sweet old lady came into the shop….

“Are we allowed to choose our own book ?”

Ah if only you weren’t.

We would do so much better if I could choose which books people had to have. All my old and unsaleable ones would fly off the shelves.

“Yes madam, I am certain that Sweet and Maxwell’s “Medical Negligence in County Court Judgements” is a thrilling book, and will certainly keep you amused for hours”

first published April 2008.


A very nice old chap comes in.

Looking for a book. Can’t remember the title or the author.

But the authors man is a fish – comes in tins – quite tasty.

All of the customers (yes I had several) joined in to try to help. He was offered Sardines, but apparently it begins with a ‘C’ and is the cheapest fish you get in a tin.

Suggested Cod, Colley, Carp, Californian Sardine, Kippers (yes I know) and various others, but no joy. He went off promising to return with the name.

He hasn’t.

I am frustrated now. Suggestions please.

First published April 2008


a woman of a certain age walks into the shop, and approaches me with a “hello, i know you are busy”

I instantly suspected a sale pitch, but no. She then asked.

“Do you have a book for thickening up hair ?”

I looked suitably blank (not having a clue what she was talking about)

“My sister is getting on, and has a bald patch, and I want a book to thicken her hair… I’d pay anything for it”

“Ah, do you mean a book about hairdressing madam ?”

“Not really, I don’t want to do hairdressing, i just want to know how to thicken my sisters hair”

I suggested that it might be easier to just ask a hairdresser for advice, which she thought was a jolly good idea, and set off to obtain immediately.

first published April 2008

Freebies & The New World Order

Chap walks in with the customary and highly cheerful “Good Morning, how are you today” that you just KNOW means he is going to try to sell you something.

He comes up to the counter, and pulls out a month old and tatty copy of “Antiques Explorer” magazine. A free mag, that we distribute from the shop. “Would you be interested in buying this ?” he asks.

“But we give it out free to the public”

“Yes but this is a back issue – surely there are some collectors”

after pointing out that a month old is not quite into the antiquarian and collectible scale of things, i dig out another 10 copies that we failed to hand out for free, and ask him if he would like to take these to add to his collection – that way he can make a real killing if he finds anyone stupid enough to buy them!

Sadly he doesn’t want my copies. I guess i will have to recycle them as usual!

first published March 2008.

Image result for caricature  bookshop antiquarian

They do exist.

I have just been on the end of an genuine rant by a genuine conspiracy theorist who genuinely believes that the world is secretly run by the New World Order. I didn’t think they really existed (The conspirasists that is – obviously the New World Order exist).

He also believes that Jews run the NWO, that members of the House of Lords are practicing their marksmanship in Westminster to defend themselves against the revolution. etc etc etc.

Here was here about 20 mins and paused for breath once.

I just smiled sweetly and glazed over!

First published March 2008

Postal Problems & Omniscience

Chap phones up to complain about a book order I have sent him.

I look up the order, and assure him that the books have gone out to him with Royal Mail.

“Oh I know that, I found them in my garden” it seems that the postie left them half in his letter box, and someone pulled them out,and threw them into the bushes.

He wanted to know what I was going to do about it.

I paused bleakly for a moment (wondering what all this had to do with me) and asked him how much damage there was to the books.

“Nothing at all, you wrapped them very well, but I wondered what compensation I would receive from you for them being thrown into the hedge”

I shall stop here !

first published January 2008.

Image result for cartoon second hand bookshop

Gentleman walks in and we have the following conversation (which I promise is not edited or made up):

Muppet: “I have some bird books – how much are they worth ?”

Mitchell: “I don’t know – do you have them with you”

Muppet: “No”

Mitchell: “Well who is the Author ?”

Muppet: “I Don’t know”

Mitchell: “Well do you know the title ?”

Muppet: “I Don’t know”

Mitchell: “Well how old are the books ?”

Muppet: “I Don’t know – they are a bit tatty – are they worth rebinding ?”

Mitchell: “That would depend on how much they are worth”

Muppet: “Oh – there are six of them. How much would they be worth then ?”

At least he didn’t tell me they were blue !!!!!

first published Feb. 2008. 

Not Just Me & Never a Cross Word.

Hurrah,
It isn’t only me !!!

I was in Waterstones the other day (I know – just looking at recently published titles – honest Your Honour), when I overheard the following.

“Hello, can you point me to the sellotape, and the children’s toys please”

“Children’s toys madam, we don’t sell children’s toys”

“Why not, you should do”

“No, we sell books madam”

“Why don’t you sell children’s toys?”

“Because we are a bookshop, why don’t you try Woolworth’s opposite”

“You mean this isn’t Woolworths…. Well why didn’t you tell me?”

So other bookshops do get them as well.

Image result for cartoon second hand bookshop

First published September 2007.

Bloke walks into the shop and presents me with a slightly crumpled book of crossword puzzles, which he hopes I will purchase from him. In my nicest voice, I decline his generous offer (Well not so generous – he wants my cash).

His reply is to ask “Why wont you buy it, my wife has only done some of them – there’s plenty more for someone else to do”

What do you say to that ? Come on – how can I reasonably respond ?

(I stuck by my ‘no’ by the way).

First Published September 5th 2005.

Europe’s Largest Book Market!

Deventer 1

Deventer Boekenmarkt 2017 

We were very excited to visit the remarkable Deventer Boekenmarkt earlier this month.

For the last 29 years, on the first Sunday of August the streets of the Dutch city of Deventer are literally filled (excuse the pun), with thousands of book stalls! The market stretches for over 6 kilometres, and showcases all kinds of books – from the secondhand book shops and antiquarian sellers, to self published novels and comic strip collections; people come from all over the Netherlands…and beyond.

The market is always popular, very organised and full of surprises. This year was no exception, and we found ourselves (armed with reading glasses and a wheel along bag) among an excited throng of over 125,000 visitors. It took us a full 8 hours to do the market justice. Thoroughly recommended!

Why Deventer?

For centuries, many printers and publishers have chosen Deventer as their base, and the city still houses many of national significance, alongside a wide variety of book shops and antiquarian book sellers.

Among other goodies, we managed to pick up some nineteenth century political cartoons, a French hand coloured folio atlas, some beautiful children’s books and a very nice Japanese postcard album.

Deventer 2         Deventer 3

The next Deventer Boekenmarkt takes place on Sunday, August 5, 2018

 

 

 

 

PBFA London International Fair

The fair is nearly upon us. This year, the fair at the ILEC suite is our biggest ever. We have more dealers than ever, with a wider range of stock. Please do come and join us at the fair. We will have regular free buses up to Olympia so that you can enjoy both fairs.

PBFA London International Fair – Ibis Hotel, 47 Lillie Road, London. SW6 1UD

Here is the floor plan and exhibitor list for the PBFA fair:

floor plan 2017 – wall copy

(I’m afraid you have to click on that one for a pop up!)

Pitch Dealer Name
A1 Veronica Watts
A2 Chris Mees
A3 White Fox
A4 Harrison-Hiett Limited
A5 Jonathan Kearns (Martin Stone)
A6 Rare & Antique Books
A7 Lorych Books
B1 Ballantyne Way (Roger)
B2 Antiquariaat Christian Haslinger
B3 Michael Morris Maps
C1 Nicholas Daly Books
C2 Unsworth Antiquarian
C3 Wildside Books
C4 Grove Rare Books
C5 Nicholas Bernstein
D1 Besley’s Books
D2 Paul Bostock
D3 Collectable Books
D4 Lymelight Books
D5 Interamnia
E1 J & S Bonham
E2 Matthew Butler
E3 Marcus Campbell
E4 Old Town Bookshop
E5 A G Cram
F1 Extraordinary Editions
F2 Bow Windows
F3 Love Rare Books
F4 Wool House Autographic
F5 Adrian Harrington
G1 John Underwood
G2 Sarah Key Books
G3 Lucius Books
G4 Voyager Press
G5 C.R. Denistoun
H1 Meridian Rare Books
H2 Rainford & Parris
H3 B.J. Walsh Old Books
H4 Robert Frew
H5 Pablo Butcher
H6 Peter Harrington
I1 Mayfly Ephemera
I2 Imperial Fine Books
I3 Bookmark Children’s Books
I4 Sevin Seydi Rare Books
I5 Zimnol Books
I6 Fine Books at Ilkley
I7 Demetzy Books
J1 West Hull Rare Books
J2 Aquila Books
J3 Dik Ramkema
K1 Petersfield Bookshop
K2 Turner Donovan Military Books
K3 Antiquarian Book Company
L1 Steven Ferdinando
L2 Keogh’s Books
L3 Deverell Books
L4 Peter Foster Books
M1 The Bibliomaniacs
M2 Any Amount of Books
M3 The Book Business
M4 Hans Lindner
N1 Eclectica
N2 Walden Books
N3 Sportspages
N4 Claude Cox
O1 Rochdale Books Company
O2 Barnaby Chiari
P1 Yesterday’s Books
P2 Simon Finch
P3 Fawsley First Editions
P4 Mark Sutcliffe
Q1 Wilfrid M. de Freitas
Q2 G. Mosdell T/A Junction Bookshop
Q3 Jarndyce
Q4 Peter Whetman
R1 E. J. Morten Books
R2 D & D Galleries
R3 Bauman Rare Books
R4 Staniland Books
S1 Alastor Rare Books
S2 London Rare Books
S3 Wykeham Books
S4 Modern First Editions
T1 B & B Rare Books
T2 Edmund Pollinger
T3 Robert Kirkman Ltd
T4 Picture This
U1 Prior Books
U2 G David
V1 Michael Kemp
V2 Scott Brinded
V3 Shapero Rare Books
V4 Holybourne Rare Books
V5 Cheltenham Rare Books
V6 Tittle Books
W1 Hereward Books
W2 Peter Hill
W3 White Eagle Books
W4 Design for Today
W5 Chantrey Books
W6 World’s End Bookshop
X1 Kingsbridge Books
X2 Gresham Books
X3 R.E. & G.B. Way
X4 Antiquates Ltd
X5 Antiquariaat Talke
X6 Reigate Galleries

If you would like a ticket to both the PBFA fair, and the ABA Olympia fair – please click on the link below:

Joint Ticket download

I hope we shall see you there soon.

 

 

Jewellery and Vagueness

Jewellery and Rings (first published June 2007)

Woman walked in this afternoon.

“Have you got any rings”

“Rings madam?” says I (Come on then – what would you say?)

“Yes, rings – the charity shops are closed – I need some rings and don’t know where to go – I’m new to Salisbury.”

“This is a bookshop Madam.”

“But I want to buy a ring.”

“How about a jewellers madam.”

“Do you think so ? – I’ll try that then”

And she walked out.

A Little Vague (first published September 2007)

“Hello,I was watching an interesting programme with Simon Schama on the History Channel last night. He was talking about the history of Wales, and carrying a book. Can you get me a copy of it please.”

Now people, you just KNOW that he didn’t have any clues about author or title. The only extra bit of information I managed to get was “It might have been a Penguin”

Special Secret Knowledge

The Fount of All Knowledge (first published March 2007)

Young man comes into the shop.

“I want to buy a book to learn stuff”

“What sort of Stuff”

You know …. I want a book to teach me things – can you recommend a book that will give me knowledge”

“Knowledge about what exactly ?”

“Oh everything ……I brought my mum a book for Christmas .. It was on Naturamony”

“Naturamony ?”

“You know – Bones and stuff”

“Ah, anatomy ….. Is she a nurse ?”

“No she works in a cafe… But i liked the pictures of bones and stuff…..

“Has she read it ?”

“She’s looked at it… Don’t think she’s read it. ……. David Ike is good isn’t he – he talks a lot of sense – who would have thought the royal family are all aliens”

“Well there are some who would question whether everything David Ike says is true”

“No its true, I saw it in a book – he says you have to wear blue to be safe from the aliens. Thats the sort of knowledge I want to learn”

“Ah sir, you will be needing our paranoid conspiracy theory utter rubbish section then”

Psychic Booksellers (first Published April 2007)

“My friend in Cornwall has quite a few Cricket books. How much are they worth ?”

Too Much Information (first published March 2007)

Guy comes in – also the worst for drink, and asks if I buy books.
“Sometimes”, say I “What sort of books are they?”

“Oh I don’t know, all sorts” He replied “How much will you pay me for them”

“I would have to see them, it varys from a pound or so, up to a few thousand, usually the former”

“But you must be able to give me some idea – can’t you guess?”

Pah.

Metal, Pot & Students

Hardcore Heavy Metal (first published Dec 2006)

You get some very odd ones in Antiquarian bookshops….

So here I was, innocently working away in my little shop……..
When a very respectable chap walks in.
Typical customer. Mid Sixties, smartly dressed with a checked jacket (and obligatory hankerchief to top pocket)
Tie, neat trousers, brogues etc: Neat moustache.

“Can I help you” I intone in my nicest, middle english bookseller voice.

“I do hope so” came back. “Do you have any biographies on Marilyn Manson, they’re my favourite band, they’re awfully good.. Do you know them?”

Not enough Pot (first published Dec 2006)

Chap comes in, up to the counter and asks if I have any books on Antique Pot Lids. I ask him what sort of pots he means, and he tells me he wants a book on the lids of jam jars, honey pots, glass and ceramic – as long as they are over 50 years old.

I ask him about the pots themselves, and he looks at me as if I’m an absolute idiot.
“Why would I want a book about those? It’s only the lids i’m interested in!”

Drama school (first published Jan 2007)

Student walks into the shop.

” I am a drama and film studies at the local college.

We want to film a fight scene in a library, but the college won’t let us use theirs. Could I borrow about a thousand books for a week or so. I’ll bring them back. ”

Now guess whether I said yes or no to him…….

 

Religious week in the bookshop

Damned Communists (first published December 2006)

What have I done to deserve this week? (Please don’t rush to answer this – I’m sure there is some karmic reason somewhere – but I don’t really want to know).

Today was the turn of the American Evangelical Christian. Here I am, sat innocently behind my desk, tapping away on my little computer, when a nondescript American with about 5 cameras around his neck comes up and asks me where the Bibles are. I show him to the Christian books, where I have bibles in Greek, Latin, Welsh, a couple of old Apocrypha and of course the Talmud in Hebrew. He is disappointed that I don’t have any modern Bibles, and I explain a bit about the economics of 16th Century Bible good – 20th Century rather common.

He browses for a little while and then appears again at the desk, and begins a fine rant on how I have lots of evil books – but no bibles in English. Here I am expecting the esoteric section to come in for a bashing, but instead he turns on the Karl Marx books, and complains about how Jews and communists are ruining God’s world – and how Marx is in fact the Antichrist and the Endtimes are here.

Always nice to have a reasoned intellectual discussion at work.
He didn’t buy anything!

Enough Religion already (first published Dec 2006)

So here we were, sat in our little shop, minding our own business and enjoying a little freedom of Religion
when a lady walks in and up to the counter.

“Are you Jewish?” she asks

“Not I” was my reply, while I hurriedly hid my Menorah (one can never be too careful near Hanukkah)

On being told that I’m not, she asks who is Jewish in the shop.
I explained that as far as I know, there was no-one Jewish working in the shop, although Mitchell the Mutt has Hasidic tendancies and Rosie is prone to Pharrisaic opinions

She told me that she had been sent by the Methodist Church, who thought that this might be a Jewish bookshop and that she was working for inter-faith and reconcilliation for the Jewish Community.

It seems there are 73 Jews in our town – split into three groups – Orthodox – Reformed and another faction that I didn’t follow! – Without us, there are now probably only 72 – pity. However, this fine lady is working to reconcile the groups.

She went away, quite cheerfully and invited us to Hanukkah anyway.

It got a little stranger later in the day.
I was relating this tale of religious tolerance and joy to Holly (Quaker – I do hope you are keeping up!),
when a head popped up from behind the Natural History section (always a worry)
“I’m from the Methodist Church and know the lady you are talking about” he stated
I did a quick double take to make sure I hadn’t been too insulting about the Methodists in the last half hour – he seemed cheerful though, so it must be ok.

Apparently, the Jewish Lady in question, had gone to the Methodist Church, and told THEM that we were Jewish, and that she was on the way here to be reconciled with us.

So the question of the day for us, is Who DID tell her we were a Jewish bookshop?