Sunday, March 29, 2009

Looming Book Sales APRIL 17-19

It's that time of the year again. I've received my postcard in the mail to remind me of the 9th Annual Booksale APRIL 17-19 supporting of the Friends of the UCO Library. If you remember last year, I went and had a good time, including (but not limited to) finding a chocolate chip in the spine of a book. It's so cheap to join, you should go. After all, if Walter Benjamin taught us anything, it's books can be anywhere. It will also be a chance to take in their exhibit Books that Change Lives now on display.

The UCO sale will be Friday-Sunday, 12pm - 8pm, each day. Friday is Friends Only, but you can join for as little as $5. I will certainly be there.

That same weekend, there is another book sale in Yukon, OK, west of the OKC metro. The sale is held by the Mabel C. Fry Library, but it will be at the YMAC building at 6th and Oak. YMAC being the Yukon Museum and Art Center, which is the converted old Central School building. A peek at Google Maps, it looks like it is on the NW corner of that intersection.

It will only be held on APRIL 17-18, Friday 9am - 7pm and Saturday 9am - 3pm. Since I didn't know much about it, and had not been to this sale before, I called them. The librarian I spoke to said that the friends group has hosted the sale for at least the 8 years she's been there, except last year. So, they have two years worth of booksale books to unload, and this year in particular the books have "been flowing in". A bonus, there is no cost to attend the sale, even on Friday.

In Bibliophiles of Oklahoma news, we have scheduled our April meeting for the 23rd. Email me for time and place.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cross Border Raid for Books

Every bibliophile wants to hunt at Larry McMurtry's Booked Up in Archer City, Texas. At least you should. It was my pleasure to organize such a trip for the toddling Bibliophiles of Oklahoma back in January.

If you've not heard of Booked Up, it is a world class book mine in an unlikely place. McMurtry has bought and sold books for decades. Sure, he's a Pulitzer Prize/ Oscar winning writer, but in interviews and his recent memoir Books , he's just another bibliophile bookseller. McMurtry's purpose relocating to his ancestral home was to establish an American book town (without a festival, which, “is the last thing I want”, according McMurtry). A fantastic interview spelling out his motivations and ideas on Nigel Beale's Biblio File is here.
For most book collectors, Archer City may as well be on the moon, but for we few book lovers shouting in the hinterlands, it is our Shangri La. We don't have a Strand, a Powell's, or a CODEX book fair. Having journeyed to Booked Up a few times before, I served as the bibliosherpa, along with Lynn Wienck of Chisholm Trail Bookstore, who is more familiar with the environs of the Red River country.

For the Bibliophiles of Oklahoma, this was our most well attended event, so we will certainly go again, perhaps in early autumn. North Texas can be merciless in the summer. For our trip, at the end of January, the weather was pleasant, though crisp. It looks chilly in the photos, right? All of our members found additions for their collections. Not too hard when a dozen ravenous bibliophiles decend on 400-500,000 quality books. Everyone also saw items that surprised them. For me, it was a very nice (bargain!) copy of The Great Gatsby for my Modern Library collection. The Mrs. was surprised how such a large number of books could be so well organized, well lit and clean. Her one complaint was that the 10' shelves were too tall for her. An example is below. This is where I spent more than half my day, the Books About Books section. Yes, nearly that entire run visible, all 10' high, are babs.

When it comes to surprises, you don't have to take my word for it. John C. Roberts, a member of the esteemed Caxton Club of Chicago, published a fantastic article in the January issue of the Caxtonian about his own southern sojourn from Chicago. Even this more established collector of modern firsts found surprises.

There are a few practical considerations weighing a trip to Booked Up.

You won't go there "passing through" to somewhere else. For many collectors, Archer City can be a destination. Really.
Virtually none of the inventory, which is hand selected by McMurtry for quality, is online. None.
Perhaps as many as 500,000 books, no junk. None.
Wear layers. There is little/no heating or air-conditioning in the four buildings, and north Texas can have erratic weather. The buildings are a little spread out.
According to the signs posted about, books are organized Erratically/ Impressionistically/ Whimsically/ Open to Interpretation. Moby Dick could be in American Fiction, Animals, Nautical, Fishing & Hunting, Travel, etc.
As of this writing, they still accept major credit cards and cash.
If you go with a group, bring water and synchronize watches. Cell service is spotty at best.

For those of you who went, leave a comment below to make everyone jealous to go with us next time!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Shamrocks and Roses

The lovely shamrock image at right is another "one that got away", but as I'm working on a label for myself, I'm drawing some inspiration from it. Image is from an 1894 advertising cover.

J. Horace McFarland (1859-1948) was born on September 29th in McAlisterville, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Union Civil War colonel George F. McFarland. In 1865 his father, a returning Civil War hero, moved the family to Harrisburg and started a printing company and a nursery.

At the age of twelve and with only four years of formal education, McFarland went to work in his father's printing shop. In 1878, at age nineteen, McFarland opened his own printing business Mount Pleasant Press and began to publish gardening and seed catalogs. The press was devoted primarily to horticultural printing. Realizing that woodcuts did not adequately represent the plants, he started to explore the use of photography. By 1894, he was experimenting with color photography and his company had become America's premier publisher of gardening catalogs, with what may have been the first color photographs produced in the US. The success of his publishing business provided McFarland with wealth and security, and freed him to engage extensively in the philanthropy and civic activism he loved.

McFarland helped organize the defense of Niagara Falls from development efforts by power companies, worked with the famous environmental preservationist John Muir to protect Yosemite National Park. He wrote more than a dozen books on roses and made the American Rose Society a world-renowned institution. As president, he established a method of rose identification and registration that is still in use today. He was also a founder and president of the American Rose Society.

Thanks, Wikipedia and Pugsley Award

Monday, March 9, 2009

Half Price Books to OKC

I now have May 21st circled on the calendar. Half Price books is coming to Oklahoma City. They will be at 6500 N. May, on the NE corner of the 63rd and May intersection, which I think will be a great spot for them. Now, apparently, they had a location in OKC before, but it was gone before I got here nearly 3 years ago.

According to the building permit from the city, it's a 9800 sq. ft. location, which sounds pretty good. So, I'm looking forward to the new book hunting digs, especially a used book store.

The announcement from HPB says:
We will begin buying from the public April 27th
Before our Great Opening on May 21, we will buy between 10am and 4 pm Monday through Friday only.

We buy books, CDs, LPs, DVDs, Books on CD and more.
In fact, we will make a cash offer on anything printed or recorded, except yesterday's newspaper.
Once we open for business on May 21, we will buy from the public anytime we are open.

Our hours of operation will be:
9am to 10 pm Monday through Saturday
10 am to 8 pm on Sundays.

For employment applications please go to
Click on Join Our Team then click on download an application.
Please forward completed applications to
Half Price Books management will be on site beginning April 13, 2009.

If you have any feelings about Half Price Books coming to town, let me know in the comments. For those of you outside Oklahoma City, if you have any feelings about them in your neighborhood, let me know too.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Book Trade Labels redux

Below is my latest post on the Fine Books & Collections blog. Sorry about phoning this one in here. PS, I did get my neato postcard in the mail today for the booksale at UCO in Edmond, April 17-19. I'll post more on that soon.

One area I collect in is books about books. A part of that collection includes book trade labels. What is a book trade label? If you've handled old books, you've likely noticed teeny-tiny labels typically on the front or rear endpaper. They will often be less than an inch long and a half inch tall.

I'm not really sure why, but it seems more natural to refer to these tiny bits of paper as tickets when associated with a bookbinder, and a label when it is from a bookseller. Perhaps because craftsmen use jobbing tickets and retailers label their merchandise. In the interest of casting my net wide, I refer to them all as book trade labels. That was the nomenclature used when I found Seven Roads Book Trade Labels and realized I was not the only one interested in these gems. Unfortunately, Seven Roads went dormant in June 2007. However lost Seven Roads is, we gained the Bibliophemera blog, which often features labels.

Book trade labels were used by booksellers, bookbinders, and can be a wealth of history and fun. Labels, historically, were available from commercial label printers. However, some specially made labels could set a bookseller apart from others near by. This 1891 advertisement from James Clegg in London gives just a few examples of common types. I'm currently working on a "field guide" to book trade labels and advertisements like Clegg's are golden discoveries. Some booksellers today use custom return address labels, which are certainly effective, but can be ho-hum. I've not seen any contemporary "bibliomorphic" labels like this one from Oklahoma City

Last week I received a new label for my collection from Scott J. Coutts at Solidus bookbindery in Melbourne, Australia. Scott is honestly the first active bookbinder I've met who has decided to use a label to identify his work. Deciding to use one, he went all out to make it memorable. He used the image by woodcut artist Jost Amman of bookbinders at work in the 1568 work A True Description of All Trades.

Scott, a microbiologist working at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, decided to take up bookbinding about a year and half ago.

Exile Bibliophile: What drew you into bookbinding?

Scott: I've always loved good books, particularly photography books. Also, I'm often annoyed at how badly constructed modern books are! I like old things and things that have a certain 'charm' and sentimental value, things that are quite tactile - especially books, which I collect. So I guess the love of well-made books, my annoyance with badly made books attracted me to binding . It's a creative outlet.

Exile: What spurred your decision to create your own label?

S: I've always liked ex libris and book trade labels. Since I started making my own books, I thought it was reasonable that I should have my own! Primarily, I like the look of them. As you can tell, my labels contain no contact information so, for better or worse, they're not really designed for advertising or increasing sales (maybe they should be!)

Exile: I think they're memorable enough! Could you describe the process you used to create your label? Are they letterpress printed?

S: The actual labels are not printed traditionally, only because I don't have the means. The label was prepared digitally and printed with an inkjet printer. I didn't use coated paper on purpose - In this instance, I like the small amount of bleed that occurs. The paper is Van Gelder Zonen 120gsm laid paper, which is one of my favourites! After printing several to a sheet, they were torn down using a 'deckled edge tearer ' to produce the irregular edges. Finally, the edges were boned flat and smooth, ready for use.

Exile: I really like the deckled edge effect, and was impressed with your method. I've never seen a label featuring a deckled edge. I have some perforated labels, but nothing like this. Thank you for the beautiful label for my collection. I'm sure it will stand out for a very long time!