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11 November 2006

Coetzee: Not Chomping at the Bit of Plot


A scan of pp 72 and 73 in DISGRACE should give you a sense of J. M. Coetzee's handling of description as a window into his main charater . . the stuff I like in the text of this novel, "Disgrace".

It is the taking of shortcuts to move the plot along, especially where I sense that "David Lurie" would have tons of stuff running 100 mph through his consciousness, that I find Coetzee leaving me dry.


He has not taken to Bev Shaw, a dumpy, bustling little woman with black freckles, close-cropped, wiry hair, and no neck. He does not like women who make no effort to be attractive. It is a resistance he has had to Lucy’s friends before. Nothing to be proud of a prejudice that has settled in his mind, settled down. His mind has become a refuge for old thoughts, idle, indigent, with nowhere else to go. He ought to chase them out, sweep the premises clean. But he does not care to do so, or does not care enough.

The Animal Welfare League, once an active charity in Grahamstown, has had to close down its operation. However, a handful of volunteers led by Bev Shaw still runs a clinic from the old premises.

He has nothing against the animal lovers with whom Lucy has been mixed up as long as he can remember. The world would no doubt be a worse place without them. So when Bev Shaw opens her front door he puts on a good face though in fact he is repelled by the odours of cat urine and dog mange and Jeyes Fluid that greet them.

- The house is just as he had imagined it would be: rubbishy furniture, a clutter of ornaments (porcelain shepherdesses,
cowbells, an ostrich-feather flywhisk), the yammer of a radio, the cheeping of birds in cages, cats everywhere underfoot. There is not only Bev Shaw, there is Bill Shaw too, equally squat, drinking tea at the kitchen table, with a beet-red face and silver hair and a sweater with a floppy collar. ‘Sit down, sit down, Dave,’ says Bill. ‘Have a cup, make yourself at home.’

It has been a long morning, he is tired, the last thing he wants to do is trade small talk with these people. He casts Lucy a glance. ‘We won’t stay, Bill,’ she says, ‘I’m just picking up some medicines.’

Through a window he glimpses the Shaws’ back yard: an apple tree dropping worm ridden fruit, rampant weeds, an area fenced in with galvanized-iron sheets, wooden pallets, old tyres, where chickens scratch around and what looks uncommonly like a duiker snoozes in a corner.

‘What do you think?’ says Lucy afterwards in the car.

‘I don’t want to be rude. It’s a subculture of its own, I’m sure. Don’t they have children?’


Lit Convenience


Do you find yourself reading e-mail more often than actual books? Have you become accustomed to reading words illuminated by a strange technological device called a monitor? If so, Daily Lit aims to meld the worlds of literature and glowing text by bringing "books right into your inbox in convenient small messages that take less than 5 minutes to read." Ulysses by James Joyce will arrive in 332 neat little e-mails. While Ibsen's A Doll's House requires only 37. It's not a bad way to knock off any of those classics you already claim to have read.

. . .

I don't really want to flesh my feelings out on this (I doubt you want me to either), but I wonder, has it really come to this? Is there no turning back? Will the speed of everything perpetually increase? Our technology evolves, but do we? Yeesh, I gotta get out of NY. Sorry.

Blogaulaire here: Well French mid-to-late 19th century novels were normal fair in weekly newspapers, Flaubert, Zola, Hugo (I believe), as well. So now email becomes our version of La Voix Populaire ?

DISGRACE, J. M. Coetzee


A short pre-review here. Nothing serious. I'm on p 47 of this novel (it's already Chapter 6) and suddenly the way Coetzee narrates his tale of a post-age-50s lust for simple sex and one attractive student . . . well what is left out in terms of the exposed profs inner turmoil is too much like adventure pop lit which hops from scene to scene without getting into a character's consciousness. I may go to the shelf with Nabakov's Lolita and re-read that novel instead.

Canadian poet Dennis Lee didn't turn me on with a secondhand collection I ordered from Alberta: Riffs. That surprised me. So I continue to 'give the guy a chance'. I found the childrens book he did the poems for: The Ice Cream Store, illustrated by David McPhail. For me, and most children I can imagine, the poems and pictures jump around too much, from this to that. Too many of them for a solid kids lit title.

There are 3 types of poems with illustrations in The Ice Cream Store that I do like, some I think could grow on anyone who repeats the words aloud a few times. The poems that seem to be 'D. L. does Mother Goose', in other words, completely derivative poems; poems that use the sounds of towns, countries and cities (or make words up) to evoke sharp, soft or watery sound-images; and third, poems that are acts of complete innovative creation, poems unlike any other kids poems.

The notes and credits for Riffs (Brick Books, 1993) do not mention The Ice Cream Store (HarperCollins Alligor Press imprint, 1991) although the latter won some prestige in its genre. The Ice Cream Store could have been 3 or 4 award-winning titles in the hands of a good editor and through more work on themes and illustration on the part of the McPhail - Lee team. Surely it wasn't a potboiler for both of them? But without a theme, the best parts are easily forgotten.

That brings me back to Coetzee. The best parts so far were in the beginning. On p 47 it speeds up too much with no depth. Will the book redeem itself if I read on into the night?

Search & Find Online


The cut 'n' pastes below are taken from searches online to find books by essayists, poets, and sculptors who interest me and by whom or about whom I have either acquired a book or want to find a title.

Often I search on AddAll and then compare what I find with what Montreal booksellers offer. If I find a book in Montreal, I can avoid a wait and the expense of handling and shipping -- depending on my quality / price comparisons.

What you find below are mere notes. A file would be opened on any single title or author as it moved from my Wish List to my Must Have List and, finally, to the Order or Buy This Title file.

Artists, authors and poets:
(use ctrl 'F' find after highlighting a name below and you can see one or two entries for a relevant title)

George Segal (environments)
Marino Marini (sculpture)
James Joyce (secondary critical essays and books)
Gluck, Louise
Irving Layton
Mordecai Richler
Phyllis Webb,
Michael Hamburger
Geoffrey Hill
Alan Sillitoe
A. R. Ammons
Carol B. Davis
John Ashbery
Pablo Neruda
Lawrence and Nancy Gladstone's "book book"

--------------- bare-bone results of quick searches -----------

Slightly Chipped: Footnotes in Booklore
by Goldstone, Lawrence

Continuing the couple's love affair with book collecting

that was first shared with readers in "Used and Rare, "

the Goldstones get hooked on the correspondence and

couplings of Bloomsbury, track down Bram Stoker's

earliest notes for "Dracula, " and discover new places to

buy rare tomes--meeting eccentric personalities along the


Seller's Name: The Denver Bookmark, CO, USA
price: C$3.40

Previously, before using AddAll, I could only find more

expensive 2nd-hand copies of that book

Slightly Chipped
Footnotes in Booklore Goldstone, Lawrence
Goldstone, Nancy St. Martin's Griffin 0-312-26395-3

( Other 2nd hand dealers there are charging MORE . . .

with one in NYC charging $2 less if you 'name'

bookfinder in the order form ! )


Canto general II (ISBN: 9500300540)
Neruda, Pablo
Bookseller: Book Dispensary
(Vaughan, ON, Canada) Price: US$ 4.98

Book Description: Editorial Losada, Buenos Aires,

Argentina, 1971. Soft Cover. Book Condition: Very Good.

Editorial Losada (Argentina) edition, VERY GOOD

softcover, no marks in text. Bookseller Inventory #



As We Know: Poems (ISBN: 0140422749)
Ashbery, John
(Baldwin, NY, U.S.A.) Price: US$ 3.00

Book Description: Penguin Books, New York, 1979. Soft

Cover. Book Condition: Very Good. First Edition, First

State. Oblong. vi, 118pp. Bottom edge is mildly stained

o/w Very Good condition.


Home Is North (ISBN: 0823302008)
Davis, Carol B.
(Baldwin, NY, U.S.A.) Price: US$ 7.50

Book Description: Golden Quill Press, Francestown, New

Hamphire, 1974. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Fine.

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. First Edition, First

Printing. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. 68pp, foreword by

David Dillman (President, Poetry Society of Alaska),

illustrations by Diana Tillion. The author's prolific pen

covers many facets of Alaskan life, places and legends. In

addition to the beauty of the poetry, the author's vivid

descriptions of such scenic wonders as Glacier Bay, which

with its 200 glaciers, and their surroundings, constitute

the largest glacial area in the world. I the poem Alaska

Water Gateway Mrs. Davis describes the then new ferry

system, the scenery, the background of towns and the

lifework of residents along this waterway to Alaska.

Bookseller Inventory # 033333


Glare (ISBN: 0393040968)
Ammons, A. R.
(Baldwin, NY, U.S.A.) Price: US$ 7.50

Book Description: W W Norton & Co Inc, New York,

1997. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket

Condition: Fine. First Edition, First Printing. 8vo - over

7¾" - 9¾" tall. 294pp. Bookseller Inventory # 029053


---------------------- Sillitoe, novels and poetry
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner
(ISBN: 0451114361)
Sillitoe, Alan
Bookseller: Miles Books
(Highland, IN, U.S.A.) Price: US$ 1.00

Book Description: N A L, New York, New York, U.S.A.,

1961. Soft Cover. Book Condition: Very Good. Later

Printing. Book is clean and tight. Your order ships from

our Chicago Land warehouse that is centrally located for

the entire U.S. Bookseller Inventory # 144361

Without Beer or Bread (1957) IS RARE = $900 !!!

------- the BALDWIN, NY store has 3 or 4 women poets

writing on Alaska themes

-------------------- MORE Sillitoe at $45

From Canto Two of the Rats.
Sillitoe, Alan
(Baldwin, NY, U.S.A.) Price: US$ 45.00

Book Description: Privately Published By Alan Sillitoe,

Wittersham, Kent, 1973. Printer Wrapper. Book

Condition: Fine. First Edition. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" Tall.


better world books has 3 or more Geoffrey Hill titles at $1

Speech! Speech! (ISBN: 1582432406)
Geoffrey Hill
Bookseller: Better World Books
(Mishawaka, IN, U.S.A.) Price: US$ 1.00

Book Description: Counterpoint Press. Book Condition:

Used - Good. Fast shipping, best return policy, and social

responsibility put Better World Books above the rest.

Orders ship in 24 hours. Choose Expedited for 2-4 day

delivery. Returns are 100% no-questions-asked. Over 1

million happy customers! Your purchase benefits

Columbus Literacy Council! Shows some signs of wear,

and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller

Inventory # CS-002-366

------------- better world (next)
Illuminating Shadows: The Mythic Power of Film
(ISBN: 0877736456)
Geoffrey Hill

Bookseller: Better World Books
(Mishawaka, IN, U.S.A.) Price: US$ 1.00

Book Description: Shambhala. Book Condition: Used -

Good. Fast shipping, best return policy, and social

responsibility put Better World Books above the rest.

Orders ship in 24 hours. Choose Expedited for 2-4 day

delivery. Returns are 100% no-questions-asked. Over 1

million happy customers! Your purchase benefits the

National Center for Family Literacy! Former library

book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some

markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory #


Somewhere is such a kingdom: Poems 1952-1971
Geoffrey Hill
Bookseller: Better World Books
(Mishawaka, IN, U.S.A.) Price: US$ 1.00

Book Description: Houghton Mifflin. Book Condition:

Used - Good. Former library book. Shows some signs of

wear, and may have some markings on the inside. 100%

Money Back Guarantee. Shipped to over 500,000 happy

customers. Support Literacy! Your purchase benefits the

National Center for Family Literacy!. Bookseller

Inventory # DK-010-381

------------------------ Interviews with Poets
the whole BTL series ($19 New)


The Truth of Poetry, by Michael Hamburger
--- 6 online booksellers (lowest price of $17)
--------------- Below I give blurbs for some of them

ISBN: 0953284190 for the Michael Hamburger book.

In Montreal, one copy is held by BRONX

Hamburger also enjoys a considerable reputation as a

critic-cum-literary historian, with several collections of

essays to his name, and the masterly The Truth of Poetry,

first published all the way back in 1968, and recently

reissued by Anvil, exciting Michael Schmidt to say:

"Poetry readers often find that a few prose texts have

opened their eyes and ears, to the world of poetry. In my

case there were Auerbach's Mimesis, Davie's Purity of

Diction and Thomas Hardy and British Poetry … Ricks's

Milton's Grand Style, Empson's Seven Types … and, near

or at the top of the pile, The Truth of Poetry by Michael


----------------------- Or $12 as below ====
Michael Hamburger In Conversation With Peter Dale

(ISBN: 0953284115)
Dale, Peter; (Dale, Peter - ed.)
Bookseller: TheBookCom
(Horsham, WSx, United Kingdom) Price: US$ 12.36

Book Description: Between The Lines, UK 1998 Between

The Lines S. Ordered in from publisher - usually 1-2 wks

extra., 1998. BRAND NEW PAPERBACK. 210mm. 80

pgs. Illustd by KITAJ, R.B. Books - General.


-------------------- SEE
Michael Harris on the Montreal Books website

Even Your Right Eye
Webb, Phyllis
Bookseller: The Wonderful Store
(Stella, ON, Canada) Price: US$ 13.00

Book Description: McClelland & Stewart Inc., Toronto,

1956. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Very Good. Dust

Jacket Condition: Very Good. Presumed First Edition;

Not Stated. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. 64 pp. Usual library

marks & attachments, but otherwise a clean, tight copy

with lightly rubbed spine ends. Ex-Library.

------------------ now Harris's Montreal Books (below)

Webb, Phyllis. Even Your Right Eye, Toronto:

McClelland and Stewart, 1956. Hardcover. First Edition.

Near Fine/No Jacket. Poet's first separate book.

INSCRIBED by poet to Irving Layton. Layton's

bookplate on front pastedown with his name handwritten

in capital letters. Excellent association copy. Lettering on

spine rubbed, otherwise fine, lacking jacket. $260.00 CDN

($200.00 USD)

Born in Victoria, B.C. in 1927, Webb currently lives on

Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. She taught in

Creative Writing programmes across the country, and

won numerous prizes, including the Governor General's

Award for Poetry in 1982. She was appointed to the

Order of Canada in 1992. She is one of Canada’s most

celebrated poets.

Richler, Mordecai. The Acrobats, London: Andre

Deutsch, 1954

The Acrobats
RICHLER, Mordecai
Bookseller: My Book Heaven
(Alameda, CA, U.S.A.) Price: US$ 65.00

Book Description: Putnam, 1954. First Edition. Very

Good condition. No dustjacket.


Richler, Mordecai. The Acrobats, London: Andre

Deutsch, 1954. Hardcover in jacket. First Edition,

preceding Canadian and American editions. Near

Fine/Very Good. A nice copy with yellowing to endpaper,

ownership signature, in jacket with short closed tear, 1”

chip at head of spine, faint blue stain on back. Overall, a

nice copy. $200.00 CDN ($150.00 USD)

Born in Montreal in 1931, Richler was the author of ten

novels, including Barney's Version (1997), Solomon

Gursky Was Here (1989), Cocksure (1968), and The

Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1959), as well as

numerous screenplays, essays, children's books like the

Jacob Two-Two series, and several works of non-fiction.

The recipient of numerous literary prizes, Richler was

made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2001, only

a few months before his death. He is one of Canada’s

most beloved (and brilliant) authors.

============= On Layton, the first earlies are all

above $1200

Layton, Irving. Here and Now, Montreal: First Statement

Press, 1945


Gluck, Louise. Firstborn, New York: The New American

Library, 1968.

Gluck, Louise
Bookseller: Anansi Books
(Birmingham, ENG, United Kingdom) Price: US$ 9.66

Book Description: Anvil, London, 1959. Mass Market

Paperback. Book Condition: Good. Minor aging wear to

book. Stains to corners, appropriate to age.
---------- also
Gluck, Louise. Firstborn, New York: The New American

Library, 1968. Hardcover. First Edition. Near Fine+/No

Jacket. SIGNED by poet on title-page. Author’s first

book. Grey cloth over boards with dark blue lettering on

spine. Pea-sized pale stain on back cover, otherwise fine.

Scarce. $650.00 CDN ($500.00 USD)

Gluck is the current Poet Laureate of the US. Her sixth

collection of poems, The Wild Iris, won the Pulitzer Prize

for Poetry in 1992. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

and was previously a Senior Lecturer in English at

Williams College in Williamstown, MA.

Joyce, James; Connolly, Thomas (editor). James Joyce's

Scribbledehobble : The Ur-Workbook for Finnegans

Wake, Northwestern University Press, 1961. First

Edition. Hardcover.
--------------First one here is on (see below)

Scribbledehobble: The Ur-Workbook for Finnegans

, Ed. By Thomas E. Connolly

Bookseller: Dunaway Books
(St. Louis, MO, U.S.A.) Price: US$ 37.50

Book Description: Northwestern U. Press, Evanston,

1961. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket

Condition: Very Good. Dust jacket price clipped; jacket

has some rubbing; else pages clean and tight.

------------------ Now a Montreal dealer (at precisely 3X the price)

Joyce, James; Connolly, Thomas (editor). James Joyce's

Scribbledehobble : The Ur-Workbook for Finnegans

Wake, Northwestern University Press, 1961. First


Hardcover. Fine/Near Fine. A very nice copy in

rubbed and very lightly soiled jacket. #002517. $130.00

CAD ($100.00 USD)

--------------------- Sculptors

Marino Marini: Complete Works

Read, Herbert; and Patrick Waldberg and G. Di San

Lazzaro. Marino Marini: Complete Works, New York:

Tudor Publishing Company, 1970

Marino Marini: Complete Works

Bookseller: Contact Editions, ABAC, ILAB
(Toronto, ON, Canada) Price: US$ 150.00

Book Description: New York: Tudor Publishing Co. 1970,

New York, 1970. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Fine.

First Edition. Folio - over 12" - 15" tall. Hard Cover.

Fine/Near Fine. First Edition. Folio - over 12" - 15" tall.

Illustrated throughout in black and white and in full

colour. Cased in custom black card case.

---------------------- OR (wi/out box and slightlt damaged)

Read, Herbert; and Patrick Waldberg and G. Di San

Lazzaro. Marino Marini: Complete Works, New York:

Tudor Publishing Company, 1970. First Edition.

Hardcover. Near Fine/Very Good. Linen over boards with

red lettering in white jacket with black lettering and red

Marini drawing. Includes 1000 reproductions, 80 of them

in colour and printed under the artist's personal

supervision. This 500-page volume is the largest of

monographies as well as the first general catalogue of the

genius work of Marini, "the last paladin of Western

Contains an introduction by Herbert Read,

general text by Patrick Waldberg, and catalogue and

notes by G. di San Lazzaro.

A splendid copy with discreet ownership signature on

endpaper, light foxing to front-edge in jacket with sunning

to spine, several short tears repaired from behind with

tape. Contains errata slip. #004627. $260.00 CAD

($200.00 USD)

Marino Marini(continued)

Sculpture, Painting, Drawing
by Marini, Marino; Hammacher, Abraham Marie

price: C$86.35

Edition: First Edition Binding: Cloth Publisher: Harry N.

Abrams, New York, NY, U.S.A. Date Published: 1970

ISBN: 0810902745 Description: Very Good in Very Good

jacket. Ex-Library. Folio-over 12"-15" tall. New York,

NY, U.S.A. Harry N. Abrams. 1970. Hard Cover. small

Folio-over 12"-15" tall. 327pp., 315 illustrations,

including 63 tipped-in color plates. Very Good/Very

Good. Ex-library with the usual markings, front free

endpaper has been removed. Red cloth with light

edgewear, a clean and tight copy. Unclipped and unpriced

dust jacket in mylar taaped to boards. A large and heavy

book. read more

seller information:
Name: The Bookpile, PA, USA

George Segal

A Québec library entry:

Auteur Segal, George, 1924-; Van der Marck, Jan, 1929-

Titre The sculpture of George Segal / [Text] by Jan van der Marck

Sujet Segal, George, 1924-;
Sculpture de figures humaines 20e siècle États-Unis
Éditeur New York, H. N. Abrams [1975]

Collation 233 p. ill. (certaines en coul.) 28 x 30 cm.

Libraries won't sell a title entry like this. Library searches are a good way to find out what titles exist and are out of print.

Selling Used Books : One Bookstore out of a Handful


BELOW you will find an almost stream of consciousness RANT on what I think has to be taken into consideration about the book market in order to survive and pay the rent. Frankly, I see the whole thing going to hell in a handbasket. Forget any religion about good books, good authors or even good publishers and titles. You have obviously realized this true-ism (like all other -isms) yourself or you would not be offering books for sale about dead technologies and discredited theories that appeal to deader disciplines. Quality is out and the obscure is in -- let's face it!

In my rant, toward the end of it, I focus on the demographics of Montreal culture. But you and I can agree that whatever insights we can arrive at about the global or local demographics means shit-all without communicating a message to the masses -- a line of communication which equals some sort of advertising -- some form of communication other than what can be achieved in an item or keyword search on an Internet browser.

What I abhor the most is the stuckness of spinning my wheels in mud. (I never did have much confidence that by simply standing up for what's right and good in literature or politics that somehow, time will tell, I shall be proven right and then find myself re-energized by the next cultural wave -- some 60s dynamic of social upheaval and contestation.)
So, as regards the marketing of printed material both on the Internet and within the 4 square walls of where I work, we are always back to square one, circa 50 years ago. The bookstore owner here acts like the 60s are coming back. But the owner also has a strong competitive streak and authoritarian personality. Can the store survive with a personality like that running the show? That is the big question.

Book-lovers collect them, pay for them, read them, go out of their way to find them, or take out a library card and borrow them. Unfortunately, the 'lovers of books' as collectors created a bubble in the online market that lasted, at most, 5 years. The bubble . . . something of a fad mentality . . . lasted from circa 1998 to 2003, like a hoola-hoop fad, via search engines like ABE on the Internet. All ships rose in the high tide (if they put their stock online) as Internet 'shopping' grew and even Amazon went into the used-book trade.

Has Internet shopping since moved on to Internet auctions . . . or to Internet downloads of e-books? According to my first and last customer, indeed it has. He downloaded a PDF from his instructor in lieu of buying the hardcopy text I could have delivered within 3 or 4 days. (I even thought of the possibility of this myself: the play is so short I could have scanned it into a PDF overnight and uploaded it to my blog . . . in total violation of the clearly marked copyright notice prominently displayed on the printed copy I offered to sell hardcopy in the first place!)

The worst case scenario is just that -- the ease with which printed matter is transformed into a digital signal of little commercial value . . . In other words, an Internet file which can be directly up- and down-loaded has cast the hand-holdable (hard) copy aside for the online customer. The potential buyer for the used book and document seller is a buyer of nostalgia. It is only 'nostalgia' that says that some 33 1/3 vinyl recording has intrinsic value 'for the connoisseur's ear'. Yet nostalgic buying is on the wane. All the messages getting through to the public are saying that 'the best quality' is in a digital copy. With this shift, with such a transformation in the collective mindset, who is left to pay cash or credit for the real thing, for what only the bookseller can offer through the mail?
Why must I meticulously downgrade whatever holdings I have scrupulously secured as inventory within the bowels of my basement storage area? What is hard copy worth when buyers have moved on to the realm of digital imaging?

Is the ultimate winner the book dealer who goes to all lengths imaginable to provide truth in purchasing online? Who jumps through hoops?

Antiquarian dealers now transform themselves for the virtual market into drudges who fill in a computer form for each-and-every item being offered for sale through the Internet online go-between website (which charges self-same antiquarian a 15 or 20% commission for the privilege of raiding his larder of books). And the prices fall, they book values plummet. These antiquarians are on an equal footing with the tag-price book maven and the casual shopper at the Salvation Army who is armed with a computer at home. Everybody is quickly transformed into a a seller in a buyers' market.

Who benefits the most? Isn't there an element of hucksterism here, some New Age embodiment of the Mid-Western American booster mentality? This was so thoroughly exposed through the mid 20th century novels of Sinclair Lewis. Should we take this Nobel Prize winner off our shelves in self pity and in self shame and self loathing? Yet there are 121 copies of Lewis novels online at as low as $1 plus handling and shipping. Even the one who exposed it all in the beginning is grist for the Internet buying mill.

And title by title the bookseller can react with nothing more than warehousing the titles he or she can accumulate and store securely while filling out a computerised fiche on each one an uploading the graded descriptive entry to 3 or 4 competing online book brokers. These book store proprietors, some of which have closed their store to concentrate exclusively on the Internet market, have become so reliable that the brokers just take them for granted while they concentrate on the book martkets, such as textbooks and publishers overstocks, which represent a new challenge for competition and capture.

The user has a bargain, Every potential buyer loves having a detailed guarantee regarding each and every hand-holdable item, each and every 'artifact' and collectable first edition item in terms of the item's quality and price. Who wouldn't love requiring every merchant to prove that their little store has earned its place in even the weirdest market of dollar store and millionaire club offerings? But only, it seems, do the tradition booksellers comply. Booksellers want to better or equal "mom and pop's" impeccable record of delivering the goods faster than the postal services or UPS ... and send out each book with a family smile printed on some handmade brochure or implied on the content posted on both a webpage and in an Internet blog.

Another way to pose the questions: Has the cost and care it takes to maintain a warehouse of books, periodicals, sundry documents, long-playing records, prints, catalogues, broadsheets and chapbooks become a worthless burden . . . a way of selling appearances on the cheap . . . are basically community-minded people becoming another Internet adjunct to popularity. Is their talent something they have sold on the cheap while taking on all the costs incurred as the wages for maintaining home-grown, locally earned collections that reflect the old-time values of collectors in their communities who trusted them as carekeepers and local dealers. Has the devaluation of these collections gone beyond any reasonable limit?

Are we the local bookstores now inhabiting some ash heap alongside thousands of other small-bit players in the Salvation Army of booksellers, boutique operators and rare book dealers who have flown the nest of local trade for this virtual world of global opportunity?

Are we the shop owners and employees the ones (subsequently and therefore) reduced to some new status of near total dependency upon a largesse that is controlled by Internet hucksters? Did we become easy targets for new-style speculators? Were we sold aluminum siding, only this time around it came in an IKEA kit reqauiring constant upkeep and repair. Have the bricks and mortar people bowed and cowed down to promises of a putative, enormous worldwide 'customer base' if they would only put up this new siding? Is it only the search-engine monopolies on the Internet who can "deliver value" as long as we do the up-keep? Are the digital marketers the only corporate 'persons' online, while we disappear in their shadow? Are instant downloads the next sidebar explaining how and when real books disappeared? Do we as bookstores and book dealers only exist if and when we emerge (morph into) the the million-member blogosphere? Should every store owner becomea weblog personality drugged on caffeine and a daily keyboard routine? Must we universally provide a link to some corporate publisher - some Amazon-like mega site which promises to bring in sales and customers at a 15 to 20 percent commission?

Must we never reveal publicly the hand-to-mouth real-world existence this confronts us with daily as our book holdings and even our personal libraries are reduced to a rubble of what they once were, what we once valued them for? (Who would admit it was a dollar figure in the back of their head when discussing literature or science?) When the books we prized now amount to unmarketable pieces of shit on the Internet, it does seem an appropriate moment for us to just keep our collective mouths shut. Don't blurt out an unseemly truth. Pretend we did not even look up the book online to see what we could sell it for. All our educated metaphors are being stretched beyond the limit of our individual ability to comprehend what is happening . . . and, worse, we are muddled about what is to be done to survive and to keep valuing the practise of reading! Why did we get into books in the first place?

Images of Montreal: Used Bookstores


Under this rubric we will upload images off the Used Book Circle website. The link is to their book request form which UBC emails out to member stores when someone is looking for a title.

You can't tell a bookstore from the façade. But you can recognize a store from a photo. And I certainly am attempting to encourage visitors to Montreal to shop our used bookstores. You can shop the bookstore chains, but, as in the rest of Canada that boils down to one: Indigo/Chapters.

Voilà, a dozen Montreal bookstores from the front:

Astro Books
1844 Ste. Catherine St. West
Montreal, Qc
Tel: 514-932-1139

Biblomania Bookshoppe
460 Rue Ste-Catherine West #406
Montreal, Qc
Tel: 514-933-8156

Cheap Thrills
2044 Metcalfe St.
Tel: 800-343-4712 or 514-844-8988

Encore Books and Records
5670 Sherbrooke W.
Tel: 514-482-5100

Ex Libris
2159 Mackay St.
Tel: 514-284-0350

713 Mont-Royal Est
Tel: 514-523-6389

Librairie Henri-Julien
4800 Rue Henri-Julien
Tel: 514-844-7576

--- ---

Livres Bronx
7682 Edouard
Tel: 514-368-3543

Odyssey Books
1439 rue Stanley St.
Tel: 514-844-4843

S.W. Welch, Bookseller
3878 Blvd. St. Laurent
Tel: 514-848-9358

Westcott Books
2065 St-Catherine St. West
Tel: 514-846-4037

Word Bookstore
469 rue Milton
Tel: 514-845-5640

10 November 2006

Books on Sale: Realities Regarding the Style of the Pile


Everybody who's worked in a library, or a reading room, or even in a student or clinic lounge (with a stack of magazines) knows that the stock of reading matter will end up messed up, left on chairs, and probably damaged and soiled if some staff person does not periodically pick up after the readers and browsers of titles.

The same thing is doubly true of bookstores.

Discussing specific examples should be fun. I would like to hear from others.


(The post below is long -- on other blogs I sometimes skip longish content and go straight to the COMMENTS to check out reader reactions. But C.P.E. is new, so we don't have many commenters reacting. Not yet. So feel encouraged, even before reading the text, to check out all the comments left on any post so far and then post your own comments as well.)*

*Three people I visited lately, and who prefer computer-based activity to watching television, have already started reading this blog. But only one of them has posted a comment. Why not? It comes down to their trepidation when faced with interactions on the Internet. So, while I would love to jump into a dialogue with everybody about topics like the messiness us locals in Montreal face at the MCC bookstore in our community, I also recognise that C.P.E. must also bring our 'connected' neighbours along to familiarise them with blogging, and particularly with the COMMENTS feature -- then prod them to converse with us.

So, to encourage everyone reading C.P.E. to leave comments, we must tell you from the top what it entails. We need to make it easy. To this end, I've enabled 'Anonymous Commenting' -- you do not need to sign your remarks, nor fill out a form or profile statement before having your say. This morning, I also turned off the 'Moderate Comments' feature so that everyone who comments will see them posted right away. I have also identified and downloaded documents to post here from time to time that explain blogs and blogging and which provide a few tips to make the experience of participation more accessible.

If you leave a comment here, I do not have a way of discovering your true identity. If you register with Blogger (which is associated with Google), the username you choose and the profile for your ID will not give away your identity you when you log onto any personal blog or commercial site. On some blogs, the host can see your computer's IP (Internet Protocol) address - depending on the configuration of your connection to the Internet. But this info is of little interest to most website managers and is of no interest to me -- I have no way to even see your IP address.

Do not fret if the above is not clearer than mud to you. I will be posting short blog user guides as we go along. The point is one of transparency and clarity. You remain as anonymous as you like on Cheap Priceless Editions.


The "Style of the Book Pile": back to the topic at hand.

There is a Salvation Army, on rue Notre Dame, in Montreal, that goes back to a time out of mind. Time was when their bookshelves were as messy as the bins full of toys, household fixtures and winter outerwear. All that changed long ago.

Even the give-aways they sell are clearly organised on neat shelves as French or English, fiction or non-fiction, adult or childrens, as well as the many other categories (including paper and hardback, of course) that you can imagine. Once their sytem of care, shelving and maintenance was put in place, most of the titles were bumped up to higher sales prices. (Shortly thereafter - by total coincidence - the least tidy of the commercial used bookstores, on the edge of Old Montreal nearby the same crosstown street, burned to the ground. The other big old-style layback venue for neglected reading matter was sold and liquidated 5 or 6 years, after the owner died. Now only one of these palaces of bookstore chaos survives downtown (an English-language shop) and I happen to work part-time in the other messy bookstore surviving in the near-west suburbs.)

Even the tradition of the dollar and the quarter-cent book bin at the front of used bookstores is starting to die, giving way to more upscale digs and higher prices. But whatever the trend, used bookstores come and go, open and close, with regularity across town, English or French, Spanish too.

There is now a chain of secondhand stores in Montreal called Friperie Renaissance. Some of their outlets are like the old Salvation Army, some are like the new Sally Ann store, in terms of books. Again, those that are well managed have bigger selections, better organisation AND higher booktag prices.

I could tell you that I like one style more than the other. Sorry to be blunt, but this is a no-brainer. When I am a buyer, I want low prices. When I am a seller, I want high prices.

Up and to a point.

Stamp and coin collectors must certainly understand what I am about to convey. Sometimes a pile of dross is a pile of dross. Digging through the pile yields no jewel of discovery.

A well organised collection of books for sale, at higher (slightly higher) prices, in the low-end charity outlets, can be a boon for buyers. Even for the buy cheap, sell dear buyers. But here I am writing based upon firsthand experience and first principle: the books treated as dross in piles more often than not come out of the pile into the bookpickers basket as slightly or greatly 'hurt' (damaged) books. It is pure luck when you find a jewel in the rough that has not been roughed up. The roughest trade in used books is in a secondhand charity store where the rare item reaches CAN $5.99 and where the bulk of the Bell Curve (the majority) of print items fall into these price figures: 29, 49, 59 or 99 cents -- $1.99 for Harry Potter books and pop fiction still in fine 'wraps'. These are low, low prices for most titles.

I bought a softcover, oversized artbook about Frida Khalo for 59 cents there last week and sold it for $10 in my friend's bookstore yesterday. But, sadly, a corner was 'bumped' and in this case caused a corner to warp the pages, giving this graphic arts item a 'cocked' overall condition. But I did not have to elaborately describe the item to some online buyer and reduce the price asked in the offer: it was in an otherwise fine condition and the buyer was face-to-face with me, the seller, and I made my 2000% profit on it and they got a bargain over list price.

But try to find bargains like that in volume. No way! Neither on the finder's side nor on the closing the sale side of such an avaricious equation. Bump up the cost to the finder by a factor of 5, to a book in better condition at $2.99. Most times such a found item can be sold for no more than $20 or $25 if it is a fine arts image collection in oversize hardback (in today's market). And in the workingclass neighbourhood where I do most of my trading, it is only the occasional intellectual slumming it who will come down to our community bookstore venues and drop $25 for such a book (at half or one-third what it sells for in a museum boutique, by the way).

Okay. We are discussing low end marketing. But even the antiquarians are buying (at least at the big used book fairs) at the low end. And the lesson to be learned is that all along the channel, the stream and conduit for such books, booksellers have an economic and esthetic interest in the proper care and maintenance of the books being traded.

What many of us have found is that used books are so damaged by bookdealer neglect at the low-end that they end up in the garbage or are eventually pulped by Kruger Paper. In southern, southwestern and west-end Island of Montreal residencial districts, which includes an ethnically mixed population numbering some 200,000 souls, used bookstores come and go in a 4 to 10 year cycle. Look at the 'old' books now, the ones that survived the trade. (Many of the bookstores stamped their names on the first page endpapers.) You see a damaged book 9 times out of ten. Some of them show smoke damage (from fires or from an era of smoking in stores -- it's anyone's guess). So I conclude that a whole series of neglectful styles practised by a handful of bookstore owners I remember (and I could now name one or two who still survive in the trade -- though it is a disappearing breed) have inherited a constantly, physically deteriorating stock.

I know two co-operators of a used book boutique who are, slowly, turning the trend around. But they bought their stock from another careful bookseller. They will need to give away, trade or discard some of their stock as they bring in books in better condition. But the best books they find will be offered to their customers. This is unlike several other 'dealers', some without stores, who are saving their best in closed stacks and offering them through mega-vendors on the Internet. The ones who have bricks and mortar stores in this end of the local book market inevitably offer damaged, dirty and disorganized books stacked or jammed on shelves with the better books, willy-nilly.

Treasurer hunters beware. Where Internet sales pay the rent and low end bookstore practices prevail, the quality of stock either declines or the chance of making a Eureka find is reduced to near zero. All the books have been picked over to pull out the unique and valuable titles so that they can be squirreled away, ever ready to be shipped out from the basement of such a bookstore to an Internet / E-market buyer.

That is a continuing theme we must explore. Should we browse the net to find a book 24 hours before going into a used bookstore to buy? Sorta like ordering a pizza by email. But I promise to explain what I'm getting at here in another post.


09 November 2006

Google Hits as Concrete Poetry


Any poets reading this blog should click the link. The blogger there describes and links to cut 'n' paste poems working with text from sites found through Google.

I will check into it as well. It is another school of poetry, quoi?

Free Used Bookstore Directory


There are many antiquarian and used-book blogs out there. What is interesting is not so much the chat, nor links to articles on the mega-vendor homepage directories. What is interesting to Blogaulaire your host here is that such blogs describe resources and tools that are useful for all bookstore workers, dealers and sellers as well as buyers. An example is 'blogged' below:

Fine Books Blog: "Joe Spitz, a book collector from Seatlle who I've met a few times at the Albuquerque Book Fair, has launched a free online directory of used bookstores. Now all he needs is for you booksellers to create entries.

The Written Nerd: Comment: Bookseller/Blogger To Watch; Bookstores & Chaos


Blogaulaire -

We just now googled "messy used bookstore" and came up with a blog and very interesting entry about neatness. The link and quote are at the bottom.

NOTE: I deleted the original introduction. Too personal.

The Written Nerd: Comment: Bookseller/Blogger To Watch; Bookstores & Chaos:

"I like browsing a good messy used bookstore myself. But I also think that this prejudice for civilized chaos belongs to an older model of bookstores, of publishing and even of literature: a game for gentlemen and geniuses, not to be undertaken for motives as base as profit. It's all very well to have 'mound[s] of dross' if your purpose in being a bookseller is just to relax among the books with your pipe and wax prolific about literature. If, however, one intends to run a bookstore as a business, a different model is necessary.

The sensation of discovering something unexpected is indeed valuable. Serendipity is one of my very favorite parts of the bookstore experience. But I think it can be achieved without resorting to mere messiness. Our job as booksellers is to seek out the new and wonderful and underpublicized books out there, to put them on our tables and face-out displays, to surprise the lucky bookstore patron with the book they didn't know they wanted. This kind of egalitarian display chaos – bestseller next to indie press unknown – is my kind of chaos.

And I think it can co-exist with sections organized alphabetically, clear and consistent signage, and an absence of detritus and dirt. Surprising books are a sign that a bookstore's staff is creative. Disorganization is a sign that they just don't care enough to keep the place neat.

But maybe I'm wrong. Feel free to share your thoughts on chaos vs. order, serendipity vs. organization, neatnik nerdiness vs. bohemian laissez faire.

I'll be busy dusting the information desk."

Literary Agnosticism


Here in Québec, this time of year in mid-November, we are about to enter the period of book fairs. In French, and I am discussing the French-language book trade as far as this season of exhibitions is concerned, a book fair is termed Un Salon du livre. There are 4 or 5 large Salons du livre in La Belle Province (notre patrie) this fall.

The true believers in books will flood the floors in public venues as massive as any convention centres. Thousands and tens of thousands of booklovers over 2 days or 4, attend book signings and seminars, walk mile after mile along publishers' rows once or twice for some, that many times per day per week for others, while the people who work the booths exhaust themselves greeting and meeting and moving on like Carnival Folk.

Just as there are jazz devotees who spend most of the Monhtreal Jazz Festival week at the free concerts and the big ticket clubs, book devotees will hang out around Place Bonaventure or wherever a Salon is held in Québec City, Rimouski, Hull or the Saguenay.

That 'don't' mean they know squat about books.

Do the attendees at a food fair necessarily know about mislabelling in food products? Do physicians at an exhibition held during a major medical conference know the ins and outs of the pharmaceutical industry? Can music fans (or rather, do music fans) make esthetic distinctions between acoustic, synthetic and digitally spliced sound or the originality, the creativity of execution and production -- live versus recorded?

If all these afficiandos of whatever kept a ton of criteria scrolling in their heads at these various collective bashes, they would tune out, turn off and drop out - just as Timothy Leary advised a generation to do decades ago. Well, we are not living in the '60s friends, no matter whether we'd prefer to or are glad to have moved on. We're on to another dimension of collective neuroses.

I cannot help but see the frenzy over authors and books (and let us include (all the) Metropolis Bleu(x) as (a) literary festival(s) here), nearly all of them, as part of the dynamic of Hollywood's and MuchMusic's starmaking in the zeitgeist of consume, consume consume.

Lest the used book people (many of whom are also in the crowds described above) lest we get snotty and holier than thou about being above the crowd mentality, Cheap Priceless Editions will, in upcoming POSTS, display photos of hundreds of used book buyers elbowing each other out and jealously guarding boxed caches of used book finds at the McGill University Booksale (held in October) where books at a dollar are de rigueur.

(We didn't have our camera for the Thomas Moore Institute's bookfair in Sept. Too bad . . that was a 50-yard dash for the book bins that risked injury to the key players -- the book pickers who sell on the Internet.)

This post is a call for a shot of agnosticism about books and things literary. Frankly, I do not see how you can be anything but agnostic about the book trade. Just read authors and lit mags, especially compare the literary advertisement, and try to distinguish between Toronto, New York, Munich, Paris . . . San Francisco, the coast of British Columbia, Québec or what is coming out and going down in Central and Latin America. The more multilingual your reading habits the harder it becomes to make cultural distinctions about competing literatures. (BTW, here in Montreal, is there a single copy of a book -- in any language -- by the Turkish author who just won a Nobel, Orhan P? I cannot find one. We may be global. We are still insular.)

Globalization versus local culture is certainly still an issue in the print media, but I wonder whether a neophyte to literature (say a well read high school student) is not starting off on more solid footing by seeing books, authors and publishers today as playing the same game everywhere and anywhere around the globe.

We've got plenty of time and space to describe booktrade agnostics versus literary true believers in POSTS & COMMENTS. One observation here, no make that two, and we'll end the post.

In a Euro-centric world of lit, a Mexican recognised as an icon of his Mexican culture is found in permanent residence, where he writes Mexican novels, where else but in London, England. An icon of Québec theatre is found in the Florida Keys, another started her long career (after one first novel) in New England, especially Martha's Vineyard. An American icon taps his typewriter in Italy -- and all of them strive to meet deadlines negotiated with editors who answer to the German or English owners of New York publishing empires.

The last post revealed the accounting principles of book publishing in the US. Although Canada and France fund lit differently and in unique manners, what distinguishes cultures vis a vis books?

What a book agnostic recognizes right away is that tax law and accountancy has just as much to do with the titles displayed and the range of authors out in print as does any wave of inspiration that sweeps over an emerging generation of scribes.

My second, and last point, is that there are no more literary editors living, breathing and redlining MSS (unless he or she is out there in the Small Press house working from home by email and making less than $4.50 an hour) who practise the same hands-on reworking of manuscripts as did Maxwell Perkins, the editor of work by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Ring Lardner and Thomas Wolfe. There are reasons (financial and fiscal, mostly) why such editing and such symbioses between editor-author-publisher-public has become a dinosaur out of our fossilised past.

08 November 2006

How Thor Power Hammered Publishing


How Thor Power Hammered Publishing: "How Thor Power Hammered Publishing
by Kevin O'Donnell, Jr.
Many of us know that publishing has changed considerably over the last 15 years. More titles see print every year, but the average title sells fewer copies, and goes out of print more quickly, than its late '70s counterpart. Advances and royalties have dropped in inflation-adjusted terms. More books become insulation and other recycled-paper products earlier than ever before. "

Broadening this Used Book Dialogue: A Discussion Going Down in the State of Maine (region just south of Rivière du Loup)


At Cheap Priceless Editions we do not aim at keeping the discussion down to two or three locals with inbred beefs over one local bookstore. So look at the paste from another blog below that is a COMMENT at the tail-end of a longish post and even longer series of serious comments from published authors about used books.

The blog and many of the authors are a bit closer to home than Manhattan: the blog focus is on Maine and the blog host is a down-Mainer but not a main-downer.

The comments were as solid as the post was stimulating.

A comment from baggette**

At url:

on the blog post:
Inquiring Minds: Used Books, Part the Third, What on Earth is this All About, Anyway?

Nov. 7th, 2006 02:08 am (UTC)
less than two cents
I buy used books almost exclusively. GoodWill, library sales, and yard sales keep me in all the books I can read of fiction and non-fiction.
The new books in my collection are all gifts (sometimes from myself) and are usually books that cannot be found used (like yours), because no-one wants to give up their own copies.
I haven't yet purchased used books from the internet, because my reading list is already too long.
Most of the authors I see on those thrift sale donation shelves have made more money than I will ever see; they don't need $28 from me as much as I need more books (Which is to say, NOT AT ALL-AT ALL!).
If I could not buy them used, I would borrow more from the library. When I am finished with a book, I donate it back to a worthy cause. I have yet to SELL any of my books, because I would like to live in a Utopia where the exchange of ideas is free for all. Since I don't live there yet, I will at least not be party to financing the MACHINE.

(Steps off soap box) hope this exchange of ideas is helpful for you and your writing frineds. Now, would you be so kind as to get back to work WRITING; and provide me with more reading entertainment than I can really afford?

Use a Catalogue or Use only Keywords to Search Inventory?


Are These Realistic Options?

Your editor, Blogaulaire, for the blog you are looking at now -- Cheap Priceless Editions -- did a bit of browsing to find the online address to access books offered for sale by the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in the Soho District of Manhattan.

We came up with a searchable listing of 11,137 titles on the mega-vendor site, (HWBC stated on their own organization's homepage that they have +45,000 titles in the bookstore cafe which translates into having 25 % of total inventory offered for sale online.)

For those of you who are interested, whether to buy or browse, below we offer a link to the inventory of the New York City based group as it appears at Advanced Book Exchange.

We discussed how catalogue categories vary from bookstore to bookstore. And we all know that the strategy for Internet searches is keyword based and not like the Dewey Decimal System. But have the volunteers at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe taken too big a short-cut by not organizing their books by any means whatsoever? How can we -- staring at the top of a book list 11,000 titles long -- come away with any idea whatsoever about what authors, genres, subjects or categories this book place is a good bet for finding a book we are looking for?

Well, given some of the catalogues posted at Cheap Priceless Editions, the wisdom of cataloguing versus leaving the shoppers to blindly search on a browser is not a clear-cut matter. Poor catalogue entries: are they better than none at all given the power of search engines online?

SEE Bookseller-> Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

Housing Works Used Book Cafe is an independent open bookstore in New York City that presents great used, new and antiquarian books, good coffee, the opportunity to hear from many of the best writers and performers in America and the chance to make a difference in the fight against AIDS and Homelessness, in New YOrk City and the world.

We are a non-profit bookstore relying on volunteers to help run the store. Housing Works provides housing, healthcare, job training and advocacy for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Fighting AIDS One Book At A Time

07 November 2006

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe : Sells at


The following post is from the website of a New York City bookstore. Read the text below to learn more.

One point related to the theme we've been pursuing at Cheap Priceless Editions: Housing Works Bookstore Cafe has a GIF image and link to the mega-book vendor website on its homepage. is associated with e-Bay to handle purchases outside the auction bidding framework.

Browsing, I do not see any transparent manner at to search a directory of what the bookstore offers through them. Too bad, because I would prefer to buy from such a place that gives its profits to a worthy endeavour.

Although Housing Works Bookstore Cafe state they offer 45,000 titles, this does not necessarily tell us how many are on sale through or anywhere else on the Internet. I probably did not do enough browsing. But I can imagine that the community-volunteer bookstore appreciates selling without paying a subscription fee. On some mega-vendor sites with such fees and a 15 to 20% commission on sales, at least each bookstore also has its own website on the vendor's board where their offerings can be browsed and purchased.

Here is part of what you see at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe
[ View Opportunities ]
Last updated on May 31, 2006

Housing Works Bookstore Café is a non-profit bookstore, café, and event venue located in SoHo. All proceeds from the sale of donated books, CDs and records go to support Housing Works, Inc., a non-profit service agency that provides housing, healthcare, job placement, advocacy, and more to homeless New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS. The Bookstore Café sells donated books, CDs and records, new and used, all at discounted prices. All proceeds from these sales go towards support of Housing Works Inc. core programs.
The purpose of Housing Works is to ensure adequate housing, food, social services, harm reduction and other drug treatment services, medical and mental health care, and employment opportunities are available to homeless persons living with AIDS and HIV and to their families as they define them.

In particular, it is Housing Works mission to reach the most vulnerable and under served among those affected by the AIDS epidemic: people who, in addition to struggling with homelessness and AIDS, are also burdened with histories of chronic mental illness and chemical dependence. Housing Works has designed a comprehensive range of services designated to meet the complex multiple needs of our clients; these services are specifically intended to help them gain stability, security, and independence so that they can live longer, healthier lives with renewed hope and dignity.

Housing Works accomplishes its purpose through:

Advocacy that aggressively challenges perceptions about homeless people living with AIDS and HIV, both within their indigenous communities and in the larger society,

Direct provision of innovative methods of housing and services,

Facilitation of access to other appropriate systems of care, and

The development and operation of entrepreneurial enterprises that support Housing Works while providing employment opportunities for the people Housing Works services.

Housing Works was founded in 1990 as an outgrowth of the Housing Committee of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). Over the years, Housing Works has become a strong and fierce provider of housing and supportive services to homeless people with HIV and AIDS, and has become the leading advocate in New York City-- and a recognized leader nationwide—for the rights of this constituency.

Contact person: Volunteer Coordinators, Volunteer Coordinators, (212) 334-3324, (email this person)
Office fax number: (212) 334-3959

126 Crosby Street
New York, NY 10012
(See a map)

Web Site:

Directions: Bookstore is located on Crosby between Houston and Prince Subway: W / R to Prince Street B / D / F / V to Broadway-Lafayette 6 to Bleecker Street
Nearest Metro/Subway Stop: B / D / F / V to Broadway-Lafayette,
Walk distance (in minutes): 1

Be the first person to offer feedback on this organization!
Post a volunteer reflection to share your experiences with other volunteers!

06 November 2006

Half A Million Books


Half a Million

My sibling saw the post above and wrote:

Wow. Half a million!

I wrote back:
I know, the number seems outrageous. There may be around 50 dealers with a figure like that operating through half a dozen mega-sites with tens of thousands of smaller booksellers and millions of titles offered. Each of these mega-sites has unique search and buy features (with various policies for re-reimbursing the sellers who handle and ship the books. Prices are usually bumped-up above the seller's price to cover this. There are exceptions, however, on some mega-sites).

Most of the big dealers limit their business to within the continental USA because it costs more to ship beyond borders. BUT within the States, the biggest dealers somehow keep their shipping costs lower than the independent small vendors (who bite the bullet when shipping overseas).

Pick a stack of your own books, then surf to addall ( to search any title you've picked -- especially books published by a major publishing house. You will notice for popular editions that many titles are offered for $1. The only way in hell these operators can be making money is by charging handling and shipping costs to cover the difference between a price way below market value and the bill paid to have it delivered. E-Bay's website must be doing something along these lines with remaindered titles (publishers' overstock it's sometimes called). A book published, say, five years ago that made NY Times 10-bestsellers list (when it sold from $27 to $38) is being offered for 75 cents in many cases -- big jobbers handling remainders normally paid publishers a quarter to fifty cents per book for 1,000s of remainders per order.

Look at Catherine Cookson titles (or pick your own author) at You find the following, with merely a couple hardback titles standing above the pack nearer $7.50:

Catherine Cookson
. . at eBays

The Fifteen Streets: Catherine Cookson
Hardcover, 2002 - Buy it for $0.75 (Save 97%)


Kate Hannigan: Catherine Cookson
Hardcover, 2004 - Buy it for $0.75 (Save 97%)


Mary Ann and Bill: Catherine Cookson
Hardcover, 1979 - Buy it for $1.08 (Save 87%)


The Mallen Streak: Catherine Cookson
Hardcover, Large Print, 1999 - Buy it for $0.75 (Save 97%)


The Menagerie: Catherine Cookson
Hardcover, 2002 - Buy it for $7.10 (Save 71%)

Certainly, the entire phenomenon of what's happening with the mail-order book trade on the Internet needs to be researched and described to inform the general public. A big aggregator of used books, now a dealer that went commercial the E-market trend expanded, Advanced Book Exchange, has switched over it's website in Germany so that now they deal exclusively in the nearly new, the so-called publishers overstocks. Will abebooks move in this direction outside Germany as well?

All this needs to be analysed (or at least those in the know should be telling those who are in the dark the score.) Publications such as Publishers Weekly were full of news when bookstores were MAKING MONEY on the Internet. They are silent now that many of the same bookstores are LOSING THEIR SHIRTS.

Is it truth or myth that Amazon went onto the market and purchased many used books to sell them from their own warehouses? Why would Amazon even bother, when there are so many independents who remain in the market to do all the plebe work of handling and shipping DESPITE the fall in prices and the squeeze on profits? Why NOT just take a percentage on every sale by remaining the intermediary instead of the source?

Are the postal services overcharging for shipping to customers who shop online?

Well, these questions and the impact any real world scenario will have on used bookstore owners and their trade add up to as many reasons for starting this blog:

Cy Butterfield

Basic Remarks Re: Bookselling Today


A user remarked:

Some people make a living from selling on the net, but you would have to get a good supply of books.

My reply to him was:

I know, I've researched it. The long tail thing is not the answer it appears to be superficially. Adam Smith had more of it right about markets with too many sellers and too few buyers: prices fall.

The shift from selling a book every two days from a stock of 1,000 (circa 1998) to one every 3 or 4 days goes into the equations. The website intermediaries taking 15% to 20% plus a minimum fee for books under $10 plus a subscription of $45 to $60 a month is now a big bite out of booksellers' profits. On top of it all, traffic through the doors by warmbodied buyers seems to be declining in North America for the standard used bookstore (exceptions are fewer than you might think, i.e., campus-based sellers see more students buying textbooks online from competitors or just using photocopy materials for class).

I'll blog all this (with details and links to documents) on Cheap Priceless Editions @ the blog:

Cheap Priceless Editions - Book Blog

SEE This POST Cheap Priceless Editions: Constructing My Blog

For a bookstore with a 40% Internet-based trade and 60% through the door, the number of titles needed to be stocked and inventoried EXCLUSIVELY for the virtual E-commerce market can easily approach half a million. Everything depends on the overhead and staff that must be paid and the owner's need to put food on his or her table by selling books!

Constructing My Blog


Someone emailed me at to warn me that in order to COMMENT on the blog the user had to register as a member. Well, I didn't know it until I got that flag from a reader. So I turned the thing back to allowing ANYONE to COMMENT.

There are many other construction details I need to master as this site moves up on the Usability Index . . as it attracts participants. Anybody have a quick guide to POSTING images? I mastered that one at a discussion board, so it shouldn't be too hard here. What about setting up a blog roll in the margin plus a set of linked sites and blogs? Do you have suggestions? AMAZON (dot) com shows up with promo-links in other blog features about books. How do you avoid these pop-ups and do we risk being plastered with third-party come-ons?

An appeal: To anybody from the States of Washington, Iowa or Florida. Please use the COMMENTS to clue us in about the local used bookstores in your area. We want to zero in on a few US booksellers and we cannot handle every state in the Union. The same appeal is offered to any and All Canadians in the big 10 provinces and in the North. Canada has a tenth of the US population, so we'll try to gob down the whole Canadian tamale here at Cheap Priceless Editions. If that works, maybe we'll have a second course in Spanish and start covering the District Federale, i.e. Mexico City.

05 November 2006

Tear Down to Always Start Over


When I entered the bookstore this morning all the pop fiction in English paperbacks were stacked around the display table in the aisles. You, naive reader, might think "what a mess, what disorder!" In fact, there are so many stacks of books in every section of the 30' X 50' space, that the popular fiction looked pretty much like the "lit" sections, the childrens corner, the sciences, politics and the history nooks - both for French and English.

Maybe the tearing down of what Q accomplished will lead to some rebuilding of a decent display for the pocketbooks. I trust that's the owner's intention. But to do it right (i.e., raise a shelf in the middle of the display table so there are three or four levels of display from the top up) will probably require rethinking the whole thing. At a minimum, the raised shelving must be securely fixed so that it doesn't tumble on a patron.

More power to the messy owner. I've given up all hope for solid results. She should have disposed of or given away 30% of the old paperbacks that aren't selling anyway. This week-end there was a huge bazaar at the church across the street. They had a book section. The bookstore had a chance to start clearing out the aisles AND getting free PR and advertizing all in one fell swoop. But the owner doesn't operate like that. She went over and BOUGHT MORE BOOKS !! To put them online for sale I presume.

In fact, she bragged that she found an old volume on English Dog Breeds that is "worth" $160 at ABE or wherever. Lots of luck selling it, I say. Just because it's for sale at that does not mean anyone is buying it at that price . . .

Q's Bookshelf and LF's Burnout Running the Bookstore


Copy of a Bookstore-Related Email
(names changed to protect true identities)

----- Original Message -----
From: Cy Butterfield
To: EP
Sent: Sunday, November 05, 2006 10:24 AM
Subject: Q's Bookshelf and LF's Burnout

Dear Colleague and Fellow Bookstore Worker EP,

I'm writing to say you were right, EP, about how Q's making his improvements in the bookstore would eventually run up against LF's distrust and dislike of those who take initiative in "HER" bookstore space. He made and moved in a two-tiered double-sided, 4 to 5-foot shelf unit made to measure for the popular fiction English paperback display table. I saw him waiting with it outside on the sidewalk while LF talked to a customer. I, naturally, praised his work and the improvement it would make to display. (Q is so shy. I realized he hadn't yet told LF he had completed the job. Maybe he is catching onto her "ambivalence" to any improvement that makes her bookstore more than a jumble of books piled in front of and over other stacks and shelving ! In any case . . . )

Later in the day, I dropped by to see that guy CC in high spirits about having hung a fluorescent tube above the shop's front window and after moving back the wooden sign so it would 'catch' the light and be more visible to passing traffic. But at the moment I arrived, LF was glum and so was Q. Q was full of apologies for having 'messed up'. LF was down, down, down. She muttered all her complaints . . but in body language communicated that the situation was a disaster. The 'guys' in placing the shelving and arranging the pocketbooks had totally messed up the (and I can hardly believe I heard this) 'order' she had worked to bring to that pile !!

(CC disappointed me. He even told me how, if he had done the shelving, he would have made the unit taller -- so that it would hold all the books that constituted the, in my estimation, way overstocked mass of pulp and remainders. But I won't go in it in depth here.)

When I cracked a few remarks and quips to the effect that it was far better with the shelves than before and that (I should have shouted) 'you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear'. I did pooh-pooh LF's complaints as pleasantly as possible and praised Q for the OBVIOUS improvement in accessibility for customers. LF was livid.

LF is exhausted. She looked ten years older yesterday. I asked if she needed me to sub for her in the bookstore. There was really no getting through to her . . she was just dealing with ONE MORE CRISIS as if it was CAUSED BY Q.

As I said at the top, you were right. But I still find the drama and the set-piece acting out of it hard to believe.

I have started a working on a website where used books can be described and a virtual library constructed, maybe even evolving into an E-commerce outlet. Gavin, a local webmaster offered to do this with me after getting the cold shoulder from LF about the idea.

You know I am critical of LF's way of dealing with all of us in the store and the other volunteers like Q and CC (even Gavin who I didn't know had offered his unpaid services) all of whom are trying to help LF improve the business. But hope lasts eternal. No matter how bad LF's public relations become, she should be able to improve on her ex-lover-bookstore-partner's style of running the bookshop tyrannically and in constant bad moods and his odd way of communicating on Internet sites with eccentric book descriptions that explained nothing more than his own substance abuse.

I think the way I intend to link to the specific Internet addresses where BOOKSTORE NAME sells books should improve their sales whether or not my webpage goes commercial per se. I'm learning as I go and beginning to tap into sites where there are bloggers and web surfers (as well as listserv discussion participants) already discussing the whole world of used bookstores and online sales. I will need to attract such people (as well as customers) to any eventual website. In the interim, I've got an idea of how to tap into the exchange of ideas online.

To explore all these ideas and generate discussion, I have started my own personal blog that includes a "COMMENTS" feature for each entry posted. The name of the blog is Cheap Priceless Editions. So feel free, EP, to not only read this new blog at , but please make your own comments on the posts. Also, let others know about the address by sending out the link to your email contact list. I know it's not much yet (I only started yesterday) but it could start to become interesting.

We will see one another soon I am certain, Cy Butterfield

Blue-Skying a Bookstore Catalogue


This post offers another book list (taken from an Advanced Book Exchange webpage for this Canadian bookseller).

At abebooks, the member-bookdealers are free to edit their own page for users who want to browse their specific collection.

Look at the bilingual French and English list as it scrolls below. The keywords used as labels for the (sic) catalogs are arranged as hyperlinks across three of four columns on the Browse Our Books page for the bookstore online. You will find these subject and topic headers amusing, quirky and thought-provoking. Whether you read French and English or not, the cognates between the Latin languages and English always are amusing. In French, the labels sometimes come out exactly the same as in English (or with 'ie' for psychologie in the place of the 'y' ending for psychology in English, etcetera). But for reasons we'll perhaps get into in another post, pocketbook and livre de poche (or paperback and éditions populaires) do not have exactly the same meaning in the two cultures.

In any case, the person who wrote the catalogue listings below did not make very many fine distinctions between European, Canadian, American nor any other groups.* It looks like they titled their catalogues on the fly based upon whatever books there were in stock at the time of the writing. Not necessarily a bad idea -- if you want to go to the bother of going back (on a regular basis) to the published list to revise several categorical divisions. As the books in stock evolve over time, with new titles acquired and old titles sold -- or as entire collections are damaged while in storage under the water pipes in the basement -- in other words, OVER TIME, such an inspired, spontaneous division of a stock of books becomes outdated and worse than useless. Such a list becomes a labyrinth and a headache for the bookseller and the partner-employees doing the upkeep of the bookstore and its website(s). (As happens regularly chez this bookseller, books ordered online mysteriously disappeared under piles of other books!)

* Some distinctions are obviously academic; others obviously based on 'what is hot and what is not' in the book trade. New Age as a category is out-of-date, but used book stores, by their very nature, tend to carry the out-of-date. Perhaps the challenge lies in how trends, attractions and reading fads are translated into useful catalogue nomenclature and hotlinks on webpages as well as in the bookstore. The clientele (or a goodly part of it) is perhaps "stuck in the 1960s -- or '50s, the 1980s or whatever -- while another group of potential buyers have their heads full of the latest buzzwords invented only yesterday. How can books be categorized and how can they be displayed to attract the disparate publics? A bookstore, virtual or bricks 'n' mortar, is not a public library. Some of the customers have never used a library or do so only rarely. At Cheap Priceless Editions, these issues are the core of what we intend to explore.

My interest in multi-lingual bookstores brought to my mind how what I discuss relates to 'chez moi'. I am steeped in popular North American culture, so I also thought of how Miss Piggy says the word "Moi". Miss Piggy may be cute on the TV of the 70's and 80's, but the Miss Piggy approach to keeping a bookstore is definitely a bummer and a Black Hole as far as a way to invest time and money in a normally respectable trade. The challenges of organizing books and trading in them will be an ongoing theme and preoccupation here at the blog Cheap Priceless Editions. Feel free to make your own comments in this or any other book-related department!

Some of the labels for the myriad collections of books you see below are too specific. Example: take "King Arthur Legends & Story". This topic head as a catalogue confused the sellers' partner, the person who entered books into the database on the keyboard. When the author of the catalogue gave up the ghost (ran away), all titles related to medieval Europe (castles and feudalism, Chaucer and Chateaux françaises) were listed under "King Arthur Legends & Story".

One discrete collection of books about Camelot entered and uploaded to the Internet book sites from a bookstore's database thus goes on to 'pollute' or misfile dozens more books in this bookstore's otherwise interesting collection of titles about pre-modern European social history and cultural history in the non-fiction section. Chaucer falls at the opposite end of the collection from Cervantes although the two should be grouped together in a literature section.

Now: just glance over the titles of the catalogue and let your imagination take hold or wander as you put yourself in the shoes of a potential client or a book buyer about to delve into this catalogue to find a specific title.

This Bookseller's (sic) Catalogs:

1900-1960's Popular Fiction 78 RPM RECORDS 1919-1955 Classical / Popular Adventure, Voyages
Affaires Airplanes, Airships, Air Travel Alternative Spirituality & Belief
Anciens Livres, Livres Decoratifs Animals, Animaux, Animaux Domestique, Chats, Chiens, Chevau
Anthropology Art & Architecture Artisanat
Artisinat Astrology Astronomy, Space Geography Atlas ENGLISH
Atlantis, Cayce, Psychic, Autobobiles, Camions Aventure
Baker Collection bandes Desinees Baseball
Beethoven 33 RPM RECORDS Just a Few. Biographie Biography
Biology Birds Black History and Politics
Boats and Boating Books about Books
Business Affairs & Ideas
Canadiana Cars & Auto Mechanics Cartoon & Comic Books
Catalogues - trade publications Chess
Child & Adult Gen. Fiction
Childbirth & Child Care Childrens Books & Youth Series CHRISTMAS GIFTS OF THE UNUSUAL KIND
Classics: Greek, Roman Collectibles COMEDY & GOLDEN AGE OF RADIO 33rpm RECORD ALBUMS
Comic Books Communication Communism
Computer Languages Computer Games, Programs and Theory
Cook Books Corporate Affairs and Finance Crafts, Jewellery, Sewing Crime Cuisine Dance, Ballet
Decorating, Home Furnishings Dentistry & Dental Practice DEUTSCH Alte Und Vergriffene Bucher GERMAN LANGUAG
Developpement Personelle Directories & Year Books
Dogs Cats Ecology Ecomics Economics
Editions Francaise-Fiction Education Electronics
Electronics, Radio, TV Employment,
Labor Relations, Human Resources Manag; Employment. Labor Market Job Skills
Enfants Francaise Ephemera Erotica
Esotericisme Esoterisme Essays
Exercise Fantasy Fashion
Femmes Fiction Finances, Investissements, Planification
first Editions Forbidden Knowledge Foreign Language Books
FRANCAIS EGLISE Catholique FRANCAIS extraterrist,astrologie, biz francaise - French Books-Non Fiction Francaise -la science fiction francaise-petit classiques Games
Gardening Gender Issues General #1
geo/earth Science Ghost Stories & Scary Stories GIFTS OF THE UNUSUAL KIND
Grossesse, Naissance, Maternite Health Herbs Plants Gardens Trees Granola Girl
Historical Fiction Historiques l'histoire Francais History -Absolute Truth
Hockey Horror Horses, Riding
HOW TO DO THIS... OR THAT BOOKS Humour Indigenous Peoples, Natives Art, Culture
international Affairs Italian Language Books John F. Kennedy & Related
Journalism / News Judiaca Judiasm
King Arthur Legends & Story Knitting, Crochet, yarn arts and Crafts La Guerre/ L'Espionnage/ Mafia - en FRA
Languages and Dictionaries Law
Le Science fiction- Francais
Linguisitics Linguistique Literary Critique Literature
Litterature Francais, Poesie, Critique Livre De Poche 1955-1975 ROMANS Loi, Jurisprudence
Magazines and Reviews Magazines/Journals/Periodicals Marketing, Management
Martial Arts marx and Marxism Math & Numbers
Math (Algebra Trig Statistics Vectors) Medical; Metals and Metallurgy Military MODEL KITS - Plastic Money
Movie & TV into books MOVIE STARS HOLLYWOOD /
MOZART 33 RPM Vinyl Records
Music Mysteres, Suspense Mystery
Mythology, Legends, Classics NAT KING COLE RECORDS 33 RPM /
Native, Black, & Women's History /
Natural Healing Nature Nice Little Books
Pavarotti Records; Personal Finances, Investing Philosophy Photography Physics Plays
Poesie Poetry POLANSKI Slask; POLISH Politics /
Popular Culture Posters/Ephemera/Counterculture
Psychoanalysis-Depression-Therapy-Anxiet Psychologie, Psychanalyse /
Psychology Public Speaking QUEBEC politics economy society history /
Radio Real Estate Records, Music Books, CD's Religion
Romance Romance Serialized Romans, recits Frnacaises /
Royalty Sante, Medecins Douces Science & Technology
Science Fiction / Science, Natural / Self Help
Service & Repair Manuals / Sexuality Sheet Music
Sherlock Holmes & Friends Social Issues Sociology
Spanish Language Books Spiritualite, Spiritisme; Sports & Games /
Spy, Cold War, Security STEPHEN KING /
Talking Books - audio cassettes
Theatre Theatre Francais Dramatique /
Theological Murder Mysteries NUN & PRIEST Gumshoe /
Theologie Theology Religious Wonder Transport
Travel True Crime UFO, Witchcraft , Astrology, Hypnotise /
UFO, Witchcraft , Astrology, Weird /
Ukrainian and Slavonic History UNDERGROUND COMIX mainly 1969-74
Videos Voyages, Le Monde, Pays Different
Westerns Wine & Beer ( French & English) Women
Woodworking and Furniture WWII Yoga Anti Stress Cool Health