Are we there yet?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

We got stuck trying to search for a book on Abe.com. So we got the expert in, to show us how this weekend!

Rare Book Cafe is delighted to invite you to visit with us and Abe.com’s public relations director, Richard Davies, on our February 24, 2018 program, at 2.30 pm EDT.
There seems to be little Davies has not seen in the book trade. Of what remains, he is like Aristotle: no matter the direction in which we strike, we meet him on the way back. But among the things we’ll be chatting him up on will be the growth of women in bookselling and collecting, and tips on how to do a search in Abe’s vast databases that will get you useful and timely information!
Abebooks is one of the principal sponsors of this year’s Florida Antiquarian Book Fair as well. The vent will be April 20-22 at the fabulous art deco Coliseum in St Petersburg.
Of his career, Davies says:
I joined AbeBooks in 2005. Although I have always loved books and been an avid reader, I realized that my knowledge of books was actually rather limited when I began working with rare booksellers. I work in the marketing department as the company’s PR person so I deal with books and booksellers on a daily basis.

Davies penguins.jpg

I am fascinated by the rare and collectible items that are listed for sale each day and the sales that are made each day. By studying these rare books for more than 10 years, I have acquired a reasonably sound knowledge of this business. Of course, AbeBooks is an online marketplace so I never have the books in my hand. I am reliant on the information and images provided by sellers. I also spend many hours on the telephone, listening to what sellers have to say. I try to visit used and rare bookshops when travelling – the most expensive book that I have ever handled was a first edition of Leaves of Grass and I felt scared to touch it. That’s a piece of American history right there.  I recently visited both the New York Public Library and the Morgan Library (which are two blocks apart), and found both places to be amazing. The Morgan had a Gutenberg bible on display – it was the first time I’d ever seen one.
Helping to sell an expensive item on behalf of a seller is a very gratifying experience. I am extremely motivated when I come across things that are truly unique or have immense cultural or historical significance.
I am a former journalist and that background means I am drawn to unusual items. Edith Wharton’s baby rattle takes some beating. Listed for sale in 2015, this was no ordinary rattle. Made from sterling silver, it contained a whistle, was engraved with the word ‘Edith’, and had a red coral teething section.
In 2008, George Bernard Shaw’s Remington Noiseless Portable Typewriter was listed for sale. Imagine typing out a letter on that historic machine. Along the top edge of the guarantee in faded ink, Shaw had written the words ‘Bernard Shaw, Ayot St Lawrence, Welwyn Herts.”’
Truman Capote’s birth certificate is currently for sale at close to $35,000 but that’s relatively affordable compared to Jack Kerouac’s signed original painting of his brother, Gerard. Albert Einstein’s childhood building blocks are still very much useable, but would you want to build castles with something that costs more than $160,000?
John Updike’s senior class high school yearbook is just one of many yearbooks on AbeBooks featuring people of significance… before they were significant. There’s a Bolivian catechism from circa 1850 written on llama skin, a check signed by Edgar Rice Burroughs for a mere 50 cents, and many more highly unusual items that we don’t spot. And there was the time that Eugene O’Neill’s underpants were listed for sale.
All these items are well out of my personal price range but I enjoy finding and buying quirky and unusual books that can be picked up cheaply. Examples would be I Seem To Be a Verb by Buckminster Fuller (a crazy book that shows what today’s Internet would have looked like in the early 1970s) and The Poison Cookbook from Peter Pauper Press.

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I also enjoy reading non-fiction, particularly memoirs and biographies. Travel is one of my favorite genres. I love the writing of Patrick Leigh Fermor, Jan Morris, Eric Newby and Bruce Chatwin. Patrick Leigh Fermor started walking across Europe when he was 18 – that still blows my mind. He walked across Germany as the Nazis were flexing their muscles. How can anyone just walk across a continent? Newby is funny and touching – Love and War in the Apennines is a very, very special book. Chatwin was probably bonkers too – In Patagonia and The Songlines are both remarkable reads. Morris’ book on Oxford – where I lived for many years – is so perceptive.
AbeBooks is thrilled to be one of the sponsors of this year’s Florida Antiquarian Book Fair and I’m sure it’s going to be a great event for visitors and the dealers attending.


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.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Win a first edition this weekend on Rare Book Cafe!

This week’s Florida Antiquarian Book Fair Contest is sponsored by St. Petersburg’s Lighthouse Books. The prize is a first edition of a classic novel by the wild man of Florida literature, Harry Crews- The Mulching of America.




Kirkus Reviews’ reviewer had to purse his/her lips:

For 25 years, Hickum Looney has sold the most products for the Soaps For Life company, a record exceeded only by the Boss himself, a snaggle-toothed maniac with a harelip who promises salvation through his crappy soap products and has amassed a fortune doing it. Hickum, based in Miami, leads the properly anonymous existence of a company man, but everything changes when two females come into his lonely life. Ida Mae, an old woman abandoned by her husband, helps Hickum sell more products in a single day than anyone else has ever sold. This has incredible repercussions at the home office in Atlanta, where the Boss sees his worldview challenged. Meanwhile, Gaye Nell Odell, a young ex- prostitute, along with her vicious pit bull, Bubba, shoves her way into Hickum's solitary life. She and the equally ``rank and randy'' Ida Mae help Hickum overcome such embarrassments as chronic diarrhea and insecurity about his ``little raggedy ass Vienna sausage'' of a penis. The Boss has his own problems: his chauffeur, an ex-con who's tired of being booted in the butt; and his trainer, who suffers similar physical abuse for the money. The two are plotting revenge when the entire crew is sidetracked by an even stranger plot involving a major company shakeup and the fulfillment of a long-held rumor concerning the fate of ousted employees.

Imagine, if you can, a cross between Erskine Caldwell, Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner and Carson McCullers. Imagine him, next, a frequently drunk, profane ex-Marine who said he grew up in “the hookworm and rickets belt” of South Georgia. If you can conjure the likes of that, then you’ll feel right at home in the works of the novelist Harry Eugene Crews (1935-2012).

His family, and all his new neighbors as they moved, once a year, from one played out sharecropper farm to another, were so poor and ignorant most others who were poor and ignorant would have gazed on them, scratched their heads in wonder, and said, “Really?”

His childhood reading was mostly the Sears and Roebuck catalogue. Besides owning all the cool stuff in the world, they were astonishingly clean and happy-looking. At five, he survived a bout with polio, his legs drawn up behind him, racking him in spasms, as relatives, gawkers and faith healers consulted on the case.

After he got his legs back, he managed to fall into a cauldron of scalding water used to sear the hair off hog carcasses, and lived. 

After three years in the Marines, he got a BA in literature and an MA in education at the University of Florida, where he studied with the Southern Agrarians novelist Andrew Lytle. 

Even by the lurid standard of postwar Southern Gothic, Crews’ work was weird. He was 36 when his first novel was published. Margalit Fox wrote of it in his New York Times obit,

“The Gospel Singer,” published in 1968, [was] about a traveling evangelist who meets a lurid fate in a Georgia town, features characters of the sort that would people his dozen later novels: sideshow freaks, an escaped lunatic and a sociopath or two.

“You don’t intend to make a career out of midgets, do you?” Mr. Crews’s wife asked him early in his writing life.

Indeed he did. Besides midgets, later novels feature a 600-pound man who consumes titanic quantities of the diet drink Metrecal (“Naked in Garden Hills,” 1969); a woman who sings tenderly to her dead husband’s skull (“Scar Lover,” 1992); and, perhaps most famously, a man who eats an automobile — a 1971 Ford Maverick, to be exact — four ounces at a sitting (“Car,” 1972).

Crews and his wife married and divorced twice in a decade. They had two sons, and one drowned when he was four.

With articles in men’s magazines like Playboy and Esquire, Crews built following. Margalit Fox wrote,

Though his books captivated many reviewers, they were not the stuff of best-seller lists, in part because they bewildered some readers and repelled others. But they attracted a cadre of fans so fiercely devoted that the phrase “cult following” seems inadequate to describe their ardor...Despite their teeming decadence, or more likely because of it, Mr. Crews’s novels betray a fundamental empathy, chronicling his characters’ search for meaning in a dissolute, end-stage world. His ability to spin out a dark, glittering thread from this tangle of souls gave him a singular voice that could make his prose riveting.

In addition to his journalism, Crews published fifteen novels, three collection of essays, and a memoir of his childhood. A rock band was named for him, and several others wrote songs based on his work. One of his books, The Indian Runner, was made into a movie by Sean Penn.

He quit drinking in the 1980s. It just seemed like the thing to do at the time. “I had an ex-wife and I had an ex-kid and I had an ex-dog and I had an ex-house and I’m an ex-drunk,” he told The Times in 2006. “I’ve supported whores and dopers and drunks and bartenders. Thank God I don’t do that anymore.”

"Listen,” he told one of his last interviewers, “if you want to write about all sweetness and light and that stuff, go get a job at Hallmark."


The Quiz Question:

Of Harry Crews’ movie credits, were any not as himself? Discuss.



The Rules:

On Facebook, Private Message Lindsay Thompson with your answers. Answers will be accepted until 9 pm Friday, February 16, 2018. All correct answers will be sealed in a carefully cleaned Tostitos Creamy Spinach Dip Jar that no one from Price Waterhouse will get within miles of. The winner will be announced on the Rare Book Cafe show Saturday, February 17, 2018, 2:30-3:30 pm EST, on the Cafe’s Facebook page. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

From Swamp Apes to Swamped Stock, it's another jam-packed week of book adventure on Rare Book Cafe



The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair is only 61 days away from this Saturday, and Rare Book Cafe is full of Sunshine State book folk:

-Born in Orlando, Florida, Rob Smith Jr is a regular at the Book Fair, turning out drawings of fairgoers all weekend long. He started drawing caricatures at theme parks while still in high school. He attended the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida, the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, New Jersey, and Rollins College in Orlando.

Hired in 1985 as a draftsman and artist for the City of Orlando by Jeff Parker- who went on to work with Mike Peters on the Mother Goose and Grimm syndicated comic- Smith contributed editorial cartoons to the Winter Park, Florida Observer and did caricature work at places like Walt Disney World and Gatorland.

Smith joined the National Cartoonists Society in 1995. He has also been a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists.

His editorial cartoons are conservative in tone and focus on social issues as well as politics.

Smith drew syndicated editorial cartoons for DBR Media and a weekly cartoon for the Glenn Beck Program. His work has been recognized with awards from the Florida Press Association.

Smith currently contributes editorial cartoons to various sources, including the Glenn Beck Program, the late Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, and various other conservative websites.

He created Swampy's Florida in 2005 with a focus on Florida history and travel. There are currently over a dozen Swampy's Florida books, 54 prints, 17 greeting cards and 2 DVDs. His website gives a colorful example of the range of his work.

Smith’s last visit to the Cafe, in January 2016, inadvertently alarmed some viewers as he turned out to be phoning in from a Civil War Battle reenactment, talking to us via his phone at the end of a selfie stick as rifles popped and cannon boomed (the carnage begins at 13 minutes):



-Steve Bolter, of Palm Coast’s Sleuth Books, is Florida’s undrownable rare book dealer. After a quarter-century in the business, Steve and his wife, Pam, survived two ruinous hurricane-driven storms and floods in an eleven-month period during 2016-17 (a gofundme.com appeal organized by friends is still open).

Sleuth Books specializes in Juvenile Series, Children's books, Florida History, Sports, Mystery, and Animals. Sleuth is located in the beautiful Hammock, right off of A1A in Flagler County.

Here’s a 2014 Book Fair video in which Bolter describes a favorite book.




Rare Book Cafe is streamed every Saturday from 2.30 to 3.30 pm EDT. We feature 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 Facebook page, and remain there after the show.

The program’s regular guests include Miami book dealer, appraiser and WDBFRadio.com’s Bucks on the Bookshelf radio show creator Steven Eisenstein, 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.

We enjoy the support and encouragement of these booksellers:A Bric-A-Brac in Miami;  Little Sages Books in Hollywood, Florida; Liberty Books in Palm Beach Gardens; As Time Goes By, in Marion, Alabama; Quill & Brush in Dickerson, Maryland; Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg; The Ridge Books in Calhoun, Georgia; A-Bric-A-Brac in Miami Beach; and Henry Bemis Books in Charlotte.

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 virtual live studio audience for the program, write us at rarebookcafe@gmail.com.


No two ways about it, a very Gorey business.


The first major show of the works of the major American 20thC illustrator Edward Gorey (he of the PBS "Mystery" titles, now whittled down to a nub) has opened at New England's Wadsworth Athenaeum.

The show predates Gorey's 93rd birthday by a fortnight; Henry Bemis Books' bio of the master of Victorian eccentricity is here.

Rare Book Cafe feature Gorey stories in one of our 2017 episodes. Cape Cod bookseller Jim Visbeck, of Isaiah Thomas Books, joined us last March and remembered his neighbor- who died in 2000- down the road a ways. 

Here's a look back at one of our most entertaining guests- and the first whose interview was pre-recorded and then broadcast in a live show:



Rare Book Cafe happens every week on Saturdays at 2.30p EST. But you can watch it on demand, on our Facebook page, and at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair YouTube channel.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Books from Key Largo: an island dealer talks paradise, sunshine, and collecting on Rare Book Cafe!



Blind Horse Books is operated by Richard and Dottie Oates, retired educators who live in the Florida Keys. The couple are internet book sales pioneers, having opened their online shop in 1999.

“Though we specialize in travel, exploration and geography books from the mid-19th Century to World War II,” they’re written, “our site has books of note for all interests.  Let us know if you have specific interests and we will contact you when we find material you might enjoy.”

Blind Horse Books is a member of the antiquarian booksellers' associations of Florida and the United States, and the International Online Booksellers Association.

The Oatses are regulars at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair and will be giving us a preview of the treasures they plan to bring forth from their island fastness.

We’re looking forward to talking with Richard about these, and many other things, this Saturday, February 10th’s Rare Book Cafe!




Rare Book Cafe is streamed every Saturday from 2.30 to 3.30 pm EDT. We feature 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 Facebook page, and remain there after the show.

The program’s regular guests include Miami book dealer, appraiser and WDBFRadio.com’s Bucks on the Bookshelf radio show creator Steven Eisenstein, 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.

We enjoy the support and encouragement of these booksellers:A Bric-A-Brac in Miami;  Little Sages Books in Hollywood, Florida; Liberty Books in Palm Beach Gardens; As Time Goes By, in Marion, Alabama; Quill & Brush in Dickerson, Maryland; Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg; The Ridge Books in Calhoun, Georgia; A-Bric-A-Brac in Miami Beach; and Henry Bemis Books in Charlotte.

 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 virtual live studio audience for the program, write us at rarebookcafe@gmail.com.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Previews of the Past: this weekend's Cafe guest, Mark Alexander, from 2017!

Here's a blast from the Rare Book cafe's past: in 2017 rare poetry dealer Mark Alexander sat down to chat with us about his work. He'll be back this Saturday on Rare Book Cafe, 2.30 pm live EDT  on our Facebook page. Join us!