The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Booksale Jump Bag

Over the last few years of going to booksales, I've been developing a toolkit of essential and useful items to bring along. Here's the contents of my jump bag so far (more or less in order of importance).

  1. Electronic lookup tools: There are many variations (scanner + DB, phone browser, laptop, etc). I use a Palm Treo with Scoutpal that lets me input 10 ISBNs per query and I can check pre-ISBN title on ABE. Not state of the art certainly (and it's dependent on cell phone reception) but I haven't felt the need to upgrade.
  2. Scouting Book: A collection of title lists and identification points compiled through research and experience. Two lists I find very useful are a) $$$ Titles That Book Clerks Don't Know About and b) Out of Print DVD and VHS. I keep these lists on my Treo which I sync before heading out. [No, I'm not posting them. Make your own.]
  3. Bill McBride's Points of Issue (0930313046) and Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions (0930313062). Compact and very informative.
  4. Pocket Atlas or GPS and a list of nearby thrift/antique shops.
  5. $100 or so in cash and a checkbook.
  6. Business cards.
  7. Packing supplies: collapsed boxes, tape, pocket knife, sharpie, bungie cords. Don't count on finding decent supplies at a sale.
  8. Canvas Bags: I buy these whenever I see one in the right size. They're strong, and easy to maneuver through crowded aisles.
  9. Folding Wheely Cart: I'm fond of these models. Good wheels, folds small and carries 100+ pounds.
  10. Trash Bags or a small tarp: To cover your purchases in case of rain. Also useful in staking a claim.
  11. Clif bar and bottle of water: Staying sugared up and hydrated keeps the brain focused, and if your food is portable you can keep looking.
  12. Gloves and a dust mask: Overkill in most cases but you will eventually be glad you brought them along.
  13. Back-support belt: Try to keep your boxes manageable, lift with the knees, and avoid cramped/unnatural browsing posture (still you WILL develop a sensitive back as a bookseller).
  14. Carrying handle: Plastic hand grip that you can hang shopping bags from so they don't cut off your circulation.
  15. CD walkman, batteries and headphones: To preview CDs and check for playability. Vinyl junkies should consider a battery powered record player.
  16. A few bubble envelopes and small plastic bags: To protect and transport delicate items or ephemera.
  17. Handi-wipes and moisturizer: Few things are more disgusting than the gray and dried out hands you get after hours of digging through old books. If you plan to bring your hands anywhere near your face (or other people) handi-wipes are essential. I like the individually wrapped ones you find at Chinese restaurants.
Allergy tablets: Pop a few at home before heading into a dusty cat haven and keep some handy.

A Weapon?
: There's been some talk on the Biblio list lately about self-defense for the bookdealer. While I haven't yet felt physically threatened at a sale, I've certainly found myself in bizarre and uncomfortable environments. I firmly believe you shouldn't pack a weapon that you don't want turned on you, but maybe learning a little book-fu is a good idea. An OED would make a formidable bludgeon, pocket books fly like throwing stars.
Additions from Readers
Hat / Sun Shade: "I would add a light-weight collapsible hat for outdoor events. Sunburn and heat exhaustion are dangerous possibilities for those of us with library tans. " [suggested by Mr. JM]


Cervantes said...

Thanks for the informative and useful list. Where can one find these 2 items, a) $$$ Titles That Book Clerks Don't Know About and b) Out of Print DVD and VHS?

William Smith said...

My own compositions from various sources. My lips are sealed.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's a regional thing, but can you tell me why it is called a "jump" bag?


William Smith said...

It's an emergency preparedness term frequently bandied about after 9/11, the blackout out and various other Manhattan emptying events. Alice and I keep threatening to have them ready and pick meetup places etc but booksale prep is as far as I've gotten.

Mr. JM said...

I would add a light-weight collapsible hat for out door events.

Sunburn and heat exhaustion are dangerous possibilities for those of use with library tans.

-- Mr.JM

Chris said...

we call emergency preparedness bags around here "go bags" .... (for when an earthquake strikes)

but the one essential (for us) which you left off your list is a dolly (handtruck) -

we have two sizes of the lightweight folding aluminum handtrucks - even small enough to take on a plane, if you want. They are worth every penny they cost - one lives in the car, all the time...

Donna Barr said...

I had to do some insane tweaking in my blogger blog to help my readers find Indie Bookstores, using the IndieBound system. Is there any way we can introduce EVERYBODY to the concept of hooking up databases with Bowkerlinks (the people who invented the ISBN's) rather than having one poor schmuck take books lists and enter them by hand? Bowker even lists who uses what distributors, and where to buy direct wholesale -- with freight-through.