Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Further Adventures in BiblioArchaeology

Last month we reported on our excavations regarding the biblio-mounds in our bookshop basement, the result of over-exuberant buying over the last several years. It has been entertaining and exciting going through these boxes and remembering the in-shop exchanges, library sales and other book purchases which ended up in these boxes. And it has been a good idea to take a breather from buying and trading books in the shop to catch up on these previous acquisitions.

Going through a pile of children's books gleaned from a library book during its last hour, I was delighted to come across a lucrative find: "Jellybeans for Breakfast" by Miriam Young. I had originally picked up the book because it was in good shape and was a cute story about two little girls with unflattering 60's short hairdos who imagine a time when they can get together without parents constantly telling them what to do. They can slop water out of the bathtub, ride their bikes up to the moon, stay up all night, keep as many pets as they want, and most importantly, eat jellybeans for breakfast. Since buying this book I had become more familiar with its desirability among nostalgic baby boomers from the great book blog Book Ride, driven by the good folk at London's Any Amount of Books bookstore. I felt that this would be a good candidate to put up for auction on eBay and it netted a respectable $52.01.

Deeper into the heart of the book pile I hit a vein of mysteries from an estate purchase. I had immediate customers for some British mystery authors, including Jonathan Gash (author of the the Lovejoy series featuring the roguish antique dealer and sleuth) and Margaret Yorke (an amazingly prolific writer of psychological suspense novels, in the same vein as the divine (or rather B. Vine) Ruth Rendell). Other mysteries have gone onto our Mystery and Mayhem catalogue on www.oldsaratogabooks.com, including some lovely jacketed vintage mysteries, so be sure to check our website if you are interested in this genre.

I've also put lots of jazz books in our music section. I uncovered a box of great books about Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Dinah Washington, Woody Herman and jazz of the early 20th century, and these are all on the bookshop shelves. Some have even made it to our online jazz catalogue, but I find that they sell well in the shop, so most are in residence there. A few boxes of art books were also unearthed from this same purchase and are renewed with jacket protectors and a good dusting and cleaning.

I can never turn down a good history collection and so a box of Russian history reared its head out of the book mine. Russian and Soviet material seems to have reached its English language publishing apex during the Cold War years, but there is always room on the shelves in the second floor World History section for some new comrades.

Dan and I can't recall where we picked up a batch of earth science books, but we are happy to have an interesting compendium of photographs of various parts of the earth seen from space in "Geomorphology from Space: A Global Overview of Regional Landforms", published by NASA in 1986. This hefty volume has beautifully detailed remote sensing photographs of all kinds of mountains, geological formations, volcanoes and other natural wonders, and while I did enjoy perusing it over several nights, I am willing to consign it to the bookstore shelves.

Another day's excavation uncovered a long-forgotten batch of literary criticism and biographies from a retiring college professor. While these are not hot sellers, I find I always have room for them at Old Saratoga Books. It is always rewarding to place these books in the hands of an avid T.S. Eliot fan or graduate student studying Melville's poetry or Renaissance drama.

Dan and I are making good progress gleaning through the book mounds (nipping downstairs in between customers, and sometimes on our days off) and hope to make some more progress before the basement gets too chilly. It has been refreshing to be subterranean during the summer months, but soon our benumbed fingers will not stand hour after hour of sorting through the book piles, so it's back to the basement for these two biblioarchaeologists. Heigh ho!

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