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Larry McMurtry to auction three buildings of books

In case you didn’t already know, Larry McMurtry is a man of many talents. He’s best known for writing Lonesome Dove, which won the Pulitzer-Prize in 1985, as well as co-writing the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, but he is also a renowned book dealer. McMurtry has a shop called Booked Up which is located in his hometown of Archer City, Texas; he has also been a bookseller on AbeBooks since 2006.

Booked Up is a massive bookstore which currently houses about 450,000 books spread over four different buildings and apparently running a business of that size is taking its toll on the 75 year old. He as recently announced that he is going to be holding an auction this summer in order to sell off the stock being held in three of the four buildings his business currently occupies.

Americana Exchange writes about the impending sale:
With some 300,000 – 350,000 books going up for auction, most, naturally, will be sold as shelf lots. This explains why Mr. McMurtry considers the auction a great opportunity for young booksellers. Asked whether most books are collectible or reading copies, he emphatically states, “most of what we have is collectible.” This is not to say that it is all expensive material too good for reading. No one has 350,000 books appropriate for the rare book rooms. What he means is that the condition of his books, and the interest of their content, be they more recent or old, is at a high level. “We purge twice a year,” he explains, removing books whose condition or interest is unsuitable for the shop. It is not so much that every book is a great book as it is that they make a point not to have “bad” books. “We are picky.”

Along with the shelf lots McMurtry has handpicked 100 books which will be auctioned off as single book lots for bibliophiles who wish to take part in the auction but don’t want to purchase entire shelves.  Mr. McMurtry was careful to explain that these are not nessisarilly the most valuable books that will be sold, but merely a sample of items he finds interesting.

The auction will be conducted from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. August 10th and 11th.  On Friday (August 10), approximately 930 lots will be sold, including the “McMurtry 100” single book lots. On Saturday, another 615 shelf lots will be sold, along with a large sign. That is the Goodspeed’s sign. Years ago, Mr. McMurtry picked up the sign that hung on the legendary Goodspeed’s shop in Boston. Goodspeed’s career roughly paralleled the Twentieth Century.

After the sale Booked Up will continue to operate from its main location and will still house over 140,000 books. You can read more about McMurtry in Books: A Memoir

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