Books brought and sold (sometimes)

The Literary Festival. (first published Dec 2006)

A decidedly odd day in the shop.

We have been getting publicity for our support of the local festival. Waterstones have decided not to support the festival – which would have lost all of its literary element. The four independant bookshops in town have come together to put up the cash / support

First customer pops in and walks to the counter. She says “I just wanted to congratulate you on supporting the festival” and walks out.

Next customer appears, makes their way to the counter and tells us “Well done for supporting the festival – that will really put the people behind you” and leaves.

Third customer is clutching a Waterstones bag, and tells us how wonderful it is that the independant bookshops are supporting the festival, and goes.

Another customer walks in ………

Oh I can’t be bothered…..

A tempting offer. (first published Dec 2006)

I received a phone call today.
Chap had been into the shop and had a good look around, and decided to offer to sell me some books…

He asks me if i was interested in buying some management and marketing books. When I declined, he told me that these can fetch some very high prices and I am a fool to pass them up.

Then he asks me about paperbacks – all around 20 to 30 years old. I replied that I couldn’t pay much for these, as I sold them for about £1 – £1.50. He decided it wasn’t worth selling me those then!

In passing, he told me that he was, of course, selling all his good books to London dealers as complete libraries (Guaranteed to make me feel favourably towards him!) and he wanted to know what sort of books I did bother to buy then. On my replying that I would be interested in high quality and antiquarian books, he asked me if I would purchase some biographies from him.

When I tried to pursue idea of the “good books” he told me that he wouldn’t sell those to me, as otherwise he would never get rid of the rest of the rubbish !

I was good….. I didn’t swear………. I just quietly hung up the phone and stomped around the shop for a while sobbing gently into my coffee.

The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth (first published Dec 2006)

I was asked recently how much of the blog I had made up / invented.

Now, much as I would be the last person to let truth get in the way of a good story, I can assure you all, that I have no need to exaggerate or make anything up. These people are real, and the things they come out with a real.

Sad but true – I am surrounded by muppets, lunatics and booksellers.

Memoirs of a bookshop dog

I have been looking over my old blog today. This covered the time that I had a bookshop in Salisbury. It was a commentary on the customers, books and events – partly from the perspective of my dog Mitchell. When i read them now – I realise that I probably have more in common with Bernard of Black Books than I like to admit. Certainly, the blog entries would suggest I cultivated his approach to customer service. Many of these should be consigned to history – but there are some that I hope may still appeal to a bookselling and book buying audience.  So I shall offer them up here now and again!

Some people are never satisfied .  (First published Dec. 2006).

So here i am, polishing my leather with gay abandon, when a chap walks in.
He starts with the preliminary introduction of  “Do you Sell books?”

I resist scornful comments about generally being more of an exhibition or library and say yes, we do try to. Then announces that he needs a copy of a woodcut. Particularly, it must be mid eighteenth century, by a botanical artist rather than an illustrator, and must be of an Oak leaf, and an acorn.

This sounds fairly specific to me – so it is with joy in my heart, and a slightly smug and self satisfied spring in my step that I go straight to the “Illustrators of Oak Leaves” department, where I find a perfect original print of an Oak Leaf, botanically produced, with an acorn to the side and a cross section of both Leaf and Acorn (let me know If I am boring you!!). Beautiful condition, printed in 1750 (For the less historical of you, the is about as “middle of the Eighteenth Century” as it is possible to get). And best of all, £4.

I show this to the chap. Of course you have already figured what is coming next………”It’s not quite what I had in mind”

I can now feel a wave of the Little Britain “Shop of Horrors” sketch floating over me. It was all I could do to resist shouting at him “What the f*&&K do you mean it’s not what you had in mind – Not Oaky enough for you? Want something a little less Acorny? Leave now and encumber my bookshop no more with your fetid presence” but I settled with a “Sorry that’s the best I can do”.

(Sobs sadly into his coffee mug and dreams of normal people.)

By the way – I was offered a book on Porcelain Pot Lids today!! I refused to buy it our of spite!

Sinks and Soda.  (First published Dec. 2006).

Chap walks in
Comes up to the desk and announces that he has a ceramic Belfast / Butler type sink
He tells me that I have a lot of books
What should he use to clean it with?
Apparently the sink has no chips or damage!

I asked him if he had used Caustic Soda
And he replied no – he would try some immediately.

Next questions was about which Caustic Soda stockist I would recommend locally!!!

The Weirdness of Victorians

It is a well know fact that the Victorians were an odd bunch. Honestly, they were very strange. From their obsession with sewers to the colonial eccentricities. From their bizarre sports rules to the madcap mustaches. It probably all stems from the public school system – but who knows.

Anyway – I know this is a busy time of year for everyone, so I have been off searching for the best in weird and wonderful Victorian Christmas cards – just to save you the trouble. I hope you enjoy these, and that they bring some light and joy into your Christmas holidays.

_87035150_frog-murder

Because nothing says  Christmas like the robbery and murder of a frog.

I am sure the inspiration for Chewbaka started here.

Eating fat children is always a possibility if the turkey runs out!

_87038618_deadbird21880s

But he is dead – DEAD – how sick is that – share the joy of the death of a little bird.

164509_10150163723942977_7748160_n

lobster-christmas

A mouse riding a lobster – it must be Crimbo.

This Christmas wish with you abide. Victorian Christmas card

If the relatives annoy you too much……

2f8df2d200000578-3369090-this_card_features_a_rather_menacing_looking_jester_and_a_man_in-a-14_1450775511895

This is the way my wife makes me eat her Christmas pudding as well.

Actually this pair a quite cute – and the world needs more kittens.

victorianxmas13

This is my personal favourite. Nice motor though – it may be a tad post victorian.

And of course, after the Christmas joy, I must also wish you a very happy New Year

2f8df2f600000578-3369090-image-a-6_1450772947343

Be careful out there children – 2017 is the year of the giant killer hornets.

Last call for the Christmas fair

Hot on the heels of our Chelsea photographs – here is another late blog – this one a quick plug for the PBFA Kensington Christmas Fair.

It starts tomorrow (Saturday 3rd December) at 11am. This year, we are in the Hilton Olympia Hotel – so please do come along to visit, and bring wheelbarrow of cash for all the lovely items that will no doubt be on sale.

For many of us, this will be the last fair of the year, so I hope you will be able to join us.

Ho Ho Ho.

Belated Chelsea Blog

We may be a little behind the times here at Harrison-Hiett, (We are old booksellers after all), but we have finally caught up clearing out our photographs. 

This year saw another fine ABE Chelsea book fair – with many thanks to Graham York, Giles Lyons, and the rest of the crew. Takes certainly seemed healthy from Graham’s reports, and it felt like there were plenty of visitors passing through.

chelsea-panorama

 The view from the stage. Marianne and Camilla working hard to the left. 

The Annexe (where my stall was) & Graham attempting a complex operation during the show.

chelsea_1

Our stand at the show.

Budapest ILAB fair 2016

For our first international foray, Marcia and I decided to pop over to Budapest.  This may not strike you as an obvious choice – but it had some excellent advantages. Budapest was Marcia’s main choice of holiday destination this year – so that was a good start. Then there was the fact that the fair was running alongside the ILAB Congress for 2016. We felt that we had every chance to sell some items to ILAB members from around the world. Thirdly was the fact that our old mucker Graham York, was driving his van there with Jan – so our stock could get a lift, and we could swan in on a jet plane!

Here are a few photographs and a couple of little videos from our time at the fair:

The Danube at night:

buda-night

The Hungarians do like their books – and in the centre of a pedestrian walkway was this rather fabulous fountain:

The fair was held overlooking the river Danube, in the city’s concert hall, a rather beautiful venue in the heart of the capital.

buda1

We were very pleased to see some nice signage outside.

b1

Here is the before and after of our shared stand:

Graham and Jan consider their efforts, whilst Marcia welcomes customers.

At least until she sees the prices we had put on some items:

Graham didn’t feel too well after our first meal out – perhaps we should have paid more attention to the name of the restaurant:

And at the end of the fair, a well earned glass of Champers at the New York Cafe in Budapest before heading home.

budap-ny-cafe

That’s it for now. By the time you see this, I shall be returning from the Amsterdam book fair – so hopefully will have some photos / videos / gossip from there. Eg veled.

York PBFA Premier Fair 2016

Another fabulous fair at York this year. The whole York team deserve many thanks and much praise from us all for their continued efforts. Together, they manage to put on the UK’s largest fair, and one which is certainly the “Jewel in the Crown” attracting buyers and sellers from around the world.

tony-york

Here is the wondrous Tony – one of the fair manager’s, pointing to his house on a rather over-sized map!

And here is proof that I do attend the fairs with some books:

york-stand

Finally for this week, is my regular video. This one features Lucy, from Daniel Crouch, talking through one of her favourite items. Although about the newest member of the PBFA (at the time of writing), Daniel Crouch is a well known and very established member of the map trade.

Bristol folk

Whilst in Bristol at the fair, in between beating back the busy customers and their wads of cash, i managed to do a couple more of my video interviews with members of the trade. I decided to go with the most senior couple (in terms of book history rather than age !) that i could find, with mr & mrs Lee, and then in a poetic juxtaposition, one of the newest couples to join the PBFA with Robert & Barbara Chalk.

I think this was about my 5th attempt at interviewing the Lee’s – every time we would start, a musician would begin just behind them.  We got there in the end though. Mr & Mrs Lee are well known, having been involved with the PBFA for many years.

Opposite Marcia and I at Bristol, were Robert and Barbara, who only joined the PBFA last year.  their company is called “Rare & Antique Books” and they are based in Exeter.  I am always learning new things through the book trade. This fair has taught me never to let Robert choose the starter in a Vietnamese restaurant !

That’s it for now. Next stop York, for YABS, the big York Premier Fair, and the PBFA’s annual general meeting. Will the joy never end ?

 

Bristol Fair Pics & Videos – 1

Many thanks to Graham, Will, and everyone else who contributed to a very good Bristol book fair. This year continued the co-operation between the PBFA and the ABA.

Here are a few photographs of exhibitors at the fair.

A little light music is fast becoming a Bristol tradition – and this year the Bayntun’s bindery provided us with entertainment. A little video here shows the music and a bit of a sweep of the stalls.