I have always loved books. One of my earliest recollections is that of fondling, smelling, and touching any new book that I was given for Christmas or my birthday. I can smell that fresh ink in my mind even now, some sixty years later. For me, a visit to a library or even better, a book store, has always been rather like a child let loose in a toy or a sweetie shop. The chance discovery of a book one has long desired is for me rather like a surprise first kiss from a much admired but inaccessible maiden of considerable beauty.
I have not always been a bookseller and a writer, and although I managed to acquire the nucleus of a collection over the years, it never grew as I think it should have done, because of unsupportive wives, demanding families, lack of funds, and peripatetic meanderings around the world, all of which militated against the growth of my limited collection.
Fortunately, my chance arrived in my early sixties, when the crash of my substantial IT business and the abrupt departure of my then wife provided me with a golden opportunity to change my life for the better. I was able to purchase a small bookbinding business, and began to purchase books in a small way and sell them on the internet via ABE and Alibris, sometimes renovating them in my own business. My collection began to grow, slowly, at first, and then gathered momentum with a telephone call one day from an elderly lady in some distress.
She’d recently lost a son, who had been a minister and a bachelor. His hobby, though, had been book collecting. The tiny manse he had lived in was quite literally stuffed with books from floor to ceiling. Many shelves had two rows of books on them, and there were countless piles of books on all available surfaces, including the floor. The gentleman had had an extraordinarily wide range of tastes, and although most were non-fiction there were many classic fiction books, while the rest covered almost every topic you could imagine. And all were in great condition!
The Great Expansion !
My new wife and I are now semi-retired, living in a country area of South Africa, where we have a bookshop and crafts centre. This website is an off-shoot of it, and through it we buy and sell all over the world.
I feel like I have taken up permanent residence in a sweetie shop !
- DIY Bookbinding (oreilly.com)