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BOOKTHINK: How are the standards different for an antiquarian bookseller than a traditional "penny seller" who operates on volume? In addition to attending the Seminar, what are the best things someone who wants to be an antiquarian bookseller can do to learn these standards?

The standards of professionalism, in my mind, are exactly the same, and are not always intuitive, nor are they easily discoverable to someone starting out. There's certainly no "Dummy" book you can buy to find out what those standards are. The mechanics of running a volume-based business and a rare book business have things in common, but they also differ in significant ways. I like to say that it has a lot to do with how you spend your day. The way a volume seller spends his or her day has a lot to do with information management. A rare bookseller, on the other hand, spends the day on the phone, or maybe writing one very long description, or creating a deluxe paper catalog.

While the seminar's focus is most certainly on rare bookselling, the basic technology tools needed to run either kind of business are covered in some detail. We're not perfect, and there are some aspects of volume selling - eBay, for example - that are not covered in much depth. But on the other hand, there are plenty of eBay seminars one could attend, and only one seminar like ours. So we try to focus on the areas where we have the most to offer, and that can't be found elsewhere.

Thinking about attending the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar? Not only is the seminar inexpensive - literally just a little over $1000, which is far less than any other seminar I can think of would cost - there are also nearly a dozen scholarships available this year, all at our website.

Outside the seminar, you can only learn by doing, and by asking a lot of questions. Be humble, not presumptive. Find a bookseller you really like (and who likes you back) and become a protégé. And for goodness sake, go to book fairs, and exhibit at book fairs; they are an education unto themselves.

BOOKTHINK: What do you see in the future for bookselling? How can booksellers best prepare themselves to be successful in a changing market?

I had a bookseller yell at me one time for telling him I had told a customer that I thought a book was going to appreciate in value. He said, "You don't know that! You don't know what's going to happen!" At the time I was taken aback, but over time I've come to understand the wisdom in his reaction. So, with that in mind, I have no idea, of course, what's going to become of bookselling in the future. But I can say that my business has survived the recession rather well, and that I'm having no problem selling first editions. I still have to work 7 days a week, but it's a privileged line of work as far as I'm concerned.

In my heart of hearts, I think there will always be people who love books, and that there will always be a place in the world for booksellers. People love tactile things, and the digital world may be many things, but it is not tactile. I think the world is currently infatuated with technology, and while technology is obviously not going to go away, I think it will recede into the background of day-to-day living in ways that may surprise all of us. Books aren't going anywhere, any more than tables and chairs.

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Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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