The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Book Trade Book Trade

Just finished an amusing and historically informative collection of Publishers Weekly articles from the 1930s-40s called Selling Books.

The book is s snapshot of a lost era when retail was a new exciting career option, every major department store had a large book department, book clerks (presumed to be female) were absolute authorities on what one should read, and a book reference desk took up about 20 feet of counter space.

Here are a few choice quotes:
Treat all customers with the same courtesy and painstakingness--and "all customers" will include the towns most crashing snob matron and her negro cook, the town's internationally known hydraulic engineer and the convalescent inmates of a nearby sanitarium.
Paper-covered books have not been the same success here in America that they have been in Europe. Apparently the American people were unwilling to fill their shelves with any but cloth bound books. That a change in point of view is in the offing however, is evidenced in the success of paper-covered Penguin Books being imported from England and in the sale of Pocket Books with their laminated covers.
It also includes numerous photos of period book departments and staff, some still valid info on window design and a suggested reading list containing some interesting titles. Including this one that I'm curious about:

How to Run a Rental Library by Groff Conklin

Anyway I know this stuff is porn to some people so I'm going to share the joy. I'll trade this book for another curious or useful title on book-selling, collecting, bookplates, ephemera, etc. What have you read and enjoyed and don't mind passing along?

Note: This book is purely a reading copy--ex-libris and somewhat musty--so I won't demand any better.

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