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  1. Invest in continuing your education. Not only will you increase the all-important commodity of knowledge at places like the Colorado Antiquarian Book Market Seminar, the California Rare Book School at UCLA, and Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, you will get to know other booksellers, book collectors, and librarians. Knowing such people is crucial to your ability to make sales.

  2. If you don't know much about the finer points of consignments, appraisals, and housecalls, get to know another bookseller who does and who is willing to answer questions. It's best to learn about these areas of bookselling before you actually have to deal with them so you have an idea of the standard protocol and the ethical issues that sometimes arise.

  3. Life is too short for books in shoddy condition (unless they are exceedingly rare). Only buy books in very good or better condition. There is another rule that goes hand in hand with this one: Always buy books. Static stock that never sells becomes a thorny thicket that will slowly strangle your business. If you have to, cut prices and sell stock that you no longer find useful for your bookselling goals. Look for and take advantage of buying opportunities. Be sure to save some of your profits for just such opportunities.

  4. Don't focus only on the internet for sales. Offer books directly to repeat customers and other dealers. Open a shop if it's prudent to do so. Don't be afraid to offer a few good books through an auction house. Exhibit at book fairs. Issue print catalogues. (Yes, I'm still working on mine.) Diversify, so that you are not reliant on only one area of your business for sales.

  5. Realize that, no matter how long you've been in the trade, there is always more to learn. You will, from time to time, hear other more experienced dealers lament the dearth of "younger" booksellers or tell you that, as a newcomer, you won't possibly be able to learn all that is necessary to become a successful antiquarian bookseller. Despite my innate desire to agree with some of the most respected booksellers out there on such a point, I can't help but think those who feel this way are incorrect in their assessment. I just don't listen when the occasional grumpy bookseller tells me it can't be done. Whatever your career, there is always a lot to learn. Take the bookselling trade seriously and keep learning. This doesn't mean that anyone who wants to can automatically achieve equal status with those have spent a lifetime in the trade. There's much more to being an antiquarian bookseller than creating a website and indiscriminately slapping prices on books. Rather, we newcomers must demonstrate that we are willing to take the time to learn the trade and to keep selling books as we do so. Don't try to be a bookseller. Be a bookseller.