Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An interesting week for online conversations about all sorts of stuff

This has been an interesting week all the way around so far -- and it's only Tuesday!

First, the reviews for the ABAA mega-book fair in New York have started trickling in from people who attended, exhibited, and or stood around and had photos taken of them. (I'm almost ashamed to admit that I recently "Liked" Steve Martin - yes, the "wild and crazy guy!"-on Facebook a few weeks ago, and yes, this does relate to the ABAA book fair.  Yesterday he posted a picture that a fan took of him with a book he might or might not have found at the ABAA book fair. ) There's the photo of Yoko Ono checking out photography material / Japanese material at the book fair. She even parked herself in front of a booth to take closer looks at something.  There were rumors that other celebrity types made at least a cursory run-through of the event.  If you'd like links to some of the fair reviews by dealers, just comment and I'll grab them and fling them up here for you.

Then there was the wait in the LONG line at the post office yesterday.  I knew better.  Honestly, I did.  But, between making a mistake on what sort of packaging a particular book would fit into, and having to readjust my postage charge after the fact, I ended up in line for thirty minutes, having interesting chats with both the USPS personnel (I don't know about you, but my post office is a wonderful place to visit and has a very caring, helpful staff, even on stressful days) and with a couple of the people in line.  What I did notice was that this year there were less people who were sending in IRS forms (using every additional form of confirmation, etc. to make sure that the information arrived) and more people who were trying to mail big packages of all sorts.  A mixed blessing, I suppose -- it was great that people were using the Post Office and still had stuff to send out, but with the online tax forms, that means less mailing done at the P.O. during tax season, which generally means that the post office continues to make less money.   Sigh.

I belong to several online newsgroups / chat groups -- one of them is the Bibliophile newsgroup -- a group that costs $30.00 a year to join and puts you in contact with dealers and collectors all over the world (currently, I would guess there are approximately 1000 members).  If you've never heard of this group, or never participated in the group, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in books, book collecting, or book selling.  It's worth it's weight in gold just from the tidbits of information you pick up -- not to mention the offers of books for sale, etc.

Anyway --  the reason I mention this newsgroup is because of a couple of interesting discussions that have popped up in the last several days.  The first one is regarding Amazon and it's influence on the world of bookselling in the modern era.   Dealers have been opening up about their chances of survival in this business with and without the use of Amazon's third party selling site  -- i.e.: the used and collectable / rare book listings offered there.  Fascinating stuff and very thought provoking too.  Personally, I'd love to say that I could do without listing my books via Amazon's site, but frankly, I need to keep all my bookselling channels open -- to give myself lots of baskets in which I can put my eggs (as it were).  I don't have an open shop as an alternative.  What I sell online and via catalogues or book fairs is it -- those are my revenue sources for better or worse and I'd be foolish to drop one of them without thinking very hard about it first.

The other conversation that has come up is an off-shoot of the original Amazon.com vs Joe the Bookseller  conversation.  And it has to do with business models, and how each of us perceives the model that we have, the models that others have, and how we intersect.   It's moved into the type of buying (including approximate amounts per year spent on inventory), etc.  Again, fascinating stuff.  I would love to add my two cents worth, but my head is stuffed with allergies and allergy meds to counteract the fuzziness and I know it's just not a great thing to do today.  But it certainly gives me much to think about.

Speaking of allergies -- I have to say that this year has been a doozy for allergies for me. Especially the last three weeks or so.  I don't know if it's just my area, but it's really not a great thing to have to deal with when you're trying to get normal life taken care of.  Carrying a box of tissues around with you all day long is really not an option. AND, I've been out trying to get the yard stuff done (well, parts of it. And garage cleaning, and other miscellaneous bits of outdoor housework, etc), which works well for about ten minutes, then the drippy nose and fuzzy head really kick in.  Add to that that my daily walk has also been compromised by this drippy-iness and I'm not really a happy camper this week.

I suppose, since this blog post isn't  filled to the brim with erudite musings on book history, etc. I'll post the default photo for the day --


Izzy on a good day

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