Rare bookselling is fundamentally weird in a lot of ways. Booksellers range from the delightfully eccentric to the misanthropically weird. (I'll leave it to you to decide my place on the spectrum, but I'm definitely on it.)

Bookselling is also somewhat distinct from other retail trades. We have one of the lowest profit margins of any business. This means that the vast majority of rare bookshops reside in houses, rather than on the high street. In other words, you pay for the cache of selling one of the coolest things on earth: old books.

One of the weird trickle-down consequences of this is that people are constantly sending me the wrong book. Today, I excitedly opened my latest arrival. It wasn't slated to be an expensive book or even a terribly rare one. However, the book had great significance to me. It was World War II-related in a personal, meaningful way. I could not wait to share it with you. Except... it was the wrong book. Similar title, completely different book.

If you know a lot of rare book people, you'll know that they take a certain pride in their overflowing shelves, their leaning stacks. I get that. If you like your stacks, you can keep your stacks (to edgily paraphrase something from circa 2008). I just wish they'd start using numbers or QR codes or something.

But I also wish we'd stop using so much tape. Hang on for that post... it's gonna be every bit as interesting as it sounds.

(And Merry Christmas, by the way, to those of you that celebrate.)

December 24, 2021 — Opal Rare Books

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