Learn about buying and selling books on the Internet, the auction market for antiquarian books, care and preservation of antiquarian books, pricing and appraisals and compiling catalogues and online descriptions.
August 2-7, 2009, Colorado College, Colorado Springs,
immediately following the Denver Antiquarian Book Fair.
Thanks to everyone who entered our Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar Scholarship contest.
Congratulations to Boe Rushing from Florida, who won our contest. Boe is a lawyer whose true passion is rare books.
There were many great entries, it was hard to pick just one person but we think our winner really demonstrates passion and dedication to bookselling. We're looking forward to hearing Boe's first updates from the seminar.
Bookstore: Back in the Day Books
Number of Books: 3,500
Collecting Since: 2001
Books that inspired you to start collecting & selling: Used and Rare by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
The book you'd most like to own: A first edition of Suttree by Cormac McCarthy
Boe Rushing - Essay Entry
My name is Boe Rushing. I am a lawyer by profession who hopes that he never has to see the inside of a courtroom again. My passion, for the past eight years, has been books. In 2001 I moved to London, Ontario to marry my wife. I knew at that point that my legal career was effectively over and I was fine with that. What would come next professionally was completely up in the air.
Shortly after arriving in Canada I decided that I wanted to be self employed and began searching the seven used and antiquarian bookstores in London for books discussing some of the ideas I had. I was not able to find anything but at the last store I had quite a long conversation with the owner, who had purchased the business several years earlier. During our talk a light went on in my head. This new world of old books was fascinating to me. That night I told my wife that I wanted to open an antiquarian bookstore. Her response was shock mixed with confusion. She soon became my biggest champion in this new endeavor.
Two days later I was making plans to attend my first auction and mapping out garage sale routes. I placed a "buying books" ad in the newspaper, and our basement slowly started to fill up with books. Although I had no experience working in a bookstore and had no one to mentor me I was able to find some books and information on the internet to help educate myself enough to get started. My main source of inspiration was the book Used and Rare by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. The book chronicles their discovery of the world of book collecting, used and antiquarian books, and secondhand bookshops. Reading about their experiences and all the interesting people they met assured me that book dealing was the right career for me.
Eight months later I opened Bowman Books in a small building we had purchased. I rescued an English bulldog, Winston, to serve as our public relations director. I am fortunate I did not make a complete fool of myself and bankrupt our family. A year later we moved the store, which had now grown to approximately 20,000 books, to a better location. Our new store was in a 150 year old building two doors down from a coffee shop in a quaint area called Wortley Village. We did much better in this neighborhood which was filled with "book people." College professors, a former member of the band Simply Red, and even Emma Donohue, the historical fiction writer, frequented the store. I travelled to auctions and book sales all over Ontario. The experiences I had in those few short years were incredible.
About a year after we moved into our new location my wife and I had our first child, Holly. By this point I had the store completely staffed so that I could travel when necessary to view private collections, attend book sales, auctions, etc. One year after Holly was born an opportunity became available for my wife to purchase a business in Florida. We decided to make the move back to my home state because my family would be able to help with our daughter.
While I was excited to be back near family it was heartbreaking to have to leave my store, which I had built from nothing. I had travelled to live in a new country and had discovered my passion. In a sense Bowman Books was my first baby. Since the store had only been opened approximately four years I decided that I would make more money selling it off piece by piece rather than trying to sell it as a going concern. I also considered moving the store to Florida but the expense and labor involved proved to be too much. I kept several hundred of my best books and we headed south.
While I read what I can on the internet, and collect and read books on books, I have never had any hands on teaching or training. I have always desired to have some sort of mentor but the opportuniy has not provided itself. I recently stood in Ken Lopez' booth at the Florida Antiquarian Bookfair and wished that I could pick the brain of this man who was sitting just a few feet away. I believe that I would benefit from many of the subjects covered at the seminar. One of the main things that I love about the book business is that you never stop learning.
I believe that if I could attend the seminar it would boost my confidence and give my business some credibility in the eyes of my family and friends. I would also love to make some friendships with other dealers and collectors. I sometimes feel like only another book dealer or collector really understands me as a person these days.
While I envision there being less open bookstores in the future I truly believe that I have the passion, energy and intellect to make one work. Combining the internet with a brick and mortar store still seems like a viable business option. I aspire to have the type of store that a travelling bibliophile will put on their must see list. I would also like my little girl to grow up working in the store and would love to pass on a love of books and reading to her.
Some people look at me like I am crazy when I tell them that I am a lawyer who has walked away from the law in order to deal in rare books. When I was younger I used to think that I would be able to change the world by becoming a lawyer. I soon discovered that that was not going to happen. Now I feel that I have found an honorable profession that will allow me to have a positive impact on the people I come in contact with.
--Boe's updates will be posted on the AbeBooks Book Blog, Reading Copy.--