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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Coming to Rare Book Cafe April 8: Our sponsor's sponsor is our new friend, Biblio.com's Amber Shehan!


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While wired readers load up their iPads, Kindles and Nooks with summer reading, one online marketplace is keeping the pages turning for hardcore bibliophiles. For 10 years, Asheville-based Biblio.com has connected collectors around the globe with used and rare books, growing to become, by some measures, one of the top-three online used-book sellers.

That Mountain Xpress story came out in 2013, and since then, Biblio- like Avis Rent-a-Car half a century ago, has tried harder. Now it’s #2 in the field and is returning to the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair as Diamond Sponsor for the event for its 36th year.


All this Biblio has accomplished with a staff of six people, and one of them, Amber Shehan, is joining Rare Book Cafe’s April 8 program.

Shehan, Biblio’s Marketing Coordinator and Book Pixie (they also have a CEO/Quixotist; a COO/Minister of Finance; and a CTO/Recondite Gumshoe), is a bookseller down to the ground. Don’t take our word for it; she said so herself, in a Huffington Post article she called “A Childhood Built on Banned Books.”

In her off hours, Shehan is active in the Asheville theater community and cultivates all things herbal via her blog, Pixie’s Pocket, which offers “recipes, foraging tips, weird homebrews, and other wild kitchen experiments you'd expect from a tipsy fae creature.” Mead, anyone?

Biblio.com, founded in 2003, represents some 5,000 independent book dealers around the world, most recently moving into the Australian and New Zealand marketplace. They count among their business collaborators The Internet Online Booksellers Association, the Association of Antiquarian Booksellers of America, and BookGilt. Some one hundred million books rest in Biblio’s internet inventories.

“Biblio seeks to differentiate itself from its competitors by preventing penny books and limiting print-on-demand books. Biblio recognizes that the bookseller is its customer and encourages communication between the bookseller and the retail bookbuyers,” the company’s Wikipedia entry notes.

The company’s website elaborates:

From the very beginning, we have acknowledged our continuous obligation to positively affect the world around us with our business.

What started as a mash-up idea on our conference room whiteboard is now the foundation of our company: an EPIC bottom line. The word “EPIC” stands for Environment, Profit, Independence and Community, the four focus areas that are intertwined with our business practices and with one another.

Environment
Biblio is committed to preserving the environment. We were the first bookselling marketplace to offer carbon-offsetting on all orders shipped through our site. This program, ecosend, is accomplished in partnership with Native Energy, whose projects include building sustainable communities. We also offset carbon emissions from internal operations, practice recycling, energy-efficiency, compost, paper reduction where possible, and encourage buying local to reduce the carbon footprint.

Profit
We have been growing slowly and steadily since 2005, taking our place in the bookselling market. With profits each year, we are able to provide secure jobs, comprehensive benefits, charitable donations and successful reinvestments in technology, research and advertising. It's what we call “ethical profit”--promoting managed growth internally and giving back externally to communities around the world.

Independence
As an independently-owned and operated company, we understand the importance of independence among our booksellers and customers. With increased globalization and big box companies reducing competition, we're doing what we can to revitalize the small business economy by creating quality connections between readers, collectors and booksellers, and promote healthy business competition. The words “consumer” and “supplier” are not used around our office.

As Jeanette Winterson wrote, “I think of us, and others like us, as a pocket of air in an upturned boat. We are a breathing space.”

Community
At Biblio we constantly strive to maintain the balance between give and take. We love to give back to our communities, and in 2005 we founded the non-profit organization, Biblio Charitable Works, Inc., also known as BiblioWorks. After the success of the first library project in Morado K'asa, Bolivia, BiblioWorks became a major contributor in the efforts to bring literacy and education to impoverished indigenous communities. Since then, we have built 12 community libraries and counting in Bolivia, as well as assisted with local book drives, prison book programs, homeless shelters and tutoring programs.

BiblioWorks is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

Rare Book Cafe is sponsored by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. It’s broadcast every Saturday from 2.30 to 3.30 pm EDT and features interviews, panel discussion and stuff you can learn about book collecting whether you are a regular at Sotheby’s or just someone who likes books.

The program airs live on Rare Book Cafe’s and the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair’s Facebook page; the Book Fair Blog, and the Book Fairs YouTube channel. Shows are archived on YouTube and can also be viewed on the Facebook pages, and the blog after their first run.

Hosted by Miami book dealer, appraiser and WDBFRadio.com’s Bucks on the Bookshelf radio show creator Steven Eisenstein, the program features a revolving set of cohosts and regular guests including Thorne Donnelley of Liberty Book Store in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Lindsay Thompson of Charlotte’s Henry Bemis Books; miniature books expert Edie Eisenstein; and program creator/producer T. Allan Smith.

Rare Book Cafe program encourages viewer participation via its interactive features and video: if you've got an interesting book, join the panel and show it to us! If you’d like to ask the team a question or join us in the virtually live studio audience for the program, write us at rarebookcafe@gmail.com.

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