Wednesday, August 25, 2010

FOUND: Book Mine


Not only have a moved to small town in Northeast Montana, I've moved *away* from bookstores. In our town of ~5000 souls, there is not a bookstore. There was one, but it closed. The county library has a shelf of books for sale. The museum I work at has a gift shop with lots of local authors/ local history stuff, and that's about it for bookstores in Sidney, Montana. HOWEVER, just a short hop away is Williston, North Dakota. There are bookstores (plural!) in Williston. I'll have reviews of each down the road. I need to pace myself.

Hedderich's is a... well... I'm not sure what to call it. It used to be a large downtown department store. I think. Now, it's sort of an antique store, army surplus, model train store. And there's a book mine.

What is a book mine? I don't know if anyone has ever endeavored to define one. I've seen a few in my time as a collector, but they are pretty rare these days. I find they are rarely advertised, don't have websites (beyond maybe a placeholder with hours- typically not updated since 2001). Book mines can have weird hours. I knew of one once that was only open Tues. and Thurs. before noon. A book mine is also huge.

I've called Larry McMurtry's Booked Up in Archer City, Texas a book mine, and it is! Almost nil web presence. HUGE inventory. You could spend days, not just hours looking. It seems book mines tend to be in out of the way places too. Maybe it's just I'm typically in out of the way places.

Hedderich's is *not* the northern plains version of Booked Up. McMurtry's store is top quality stock, immaculate buildings and shelving, and knowledgeably priced. Even back when I was selling actively online, I had a hard time finding stock to make up the cost of my trip and purchases they were so spot on.

Hedderich's is the opposite. There are tens of thousands of books. It is dirty. I could hear something dripping somewhere. Another version of the sign posted above announced these are the NEW prices. It was dated 1992. It was sorted, sorta. Mostly 1940s-1980s, which was a little weird. Nothing very old. Nothing recent. If you're a Soviet/ Anti-Commie collector, this is the place for you! Do you collect self-help, pseudo-religion, pseudo-health? Have I got a score for you! There were more Reader's Digest Condensed Books than I've ever seen in one place. To a collector, there was a lot of crap. But at these prices, who wouldn't be tempted to at least dig a little? I thought I had a gorgeous 1930s booklet from Zion Nat'l Park, but someone had cut 25% of the photos out of it.

All was not lost however. I did find a few books for the shelf myself, but mostly roamed and tried to figure out where everything was. I need to review my old list of book club editions worth $20+ and see if it still holds up.

So, a book mine is:
1. Huge Inventory
2. Almost nil web presence

A book mine is typically:
1. Dirty
2. Cheap
3. Poorly organized
4. Off the beaten path
5. Open weird hours

Anybody else want to take a stab at defining a book mine?


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'm a Dental Floss Tycoon.

Have you ever moved cross-country? I did this summer when we moved to Montana. From the South to the North. Now, most folks mean swapping coasts when they say "cross-country move". I started this blog in Lubbock, Texas, moved to Oklahoma City and now am in Sidney, Montana. I'm a solid hour from the nearest bookstore. I'm at least three hours from a decent annual book sale. But, I'm now director of a museum (The MonDak Heritage Center) and we're in the The Mrs.' hometown, which scores me some brownie points. As a matter of fact, she's picking up some new bookcases for me this week (squeeee!). So, I'll get to unpack my office books soon, which is pretty exciting, I won't lie.

So, fair reader, I'll get back to blogging again as things settle down. In the meantime, please visit my museum's website: It ain't much to look at now, but it has some info there. This new chapter is going to rock, there are tons of opportunities here, and I may even get to do some fun book stuff I haven't had a chance to in the past.