Monday, May 30, 2011

The American Ambulance 1900-2002: An Illustrated History.

The American Ambulance 1900-2002: An Illustrated History by Walter M.P. McCall.  Paperback book published 2002.

“Books of interest and interesting books.”  That’s my subtitle.  Recently I’ve had a few people compliment me on my excellent selection of titles (yes, this is true and yes, more than one person has said this).  All I can say is... wait until they see this one. 

We’ve all heard of the train spotter, the automotive enthusiast, the stationary engine enthusiast and even tractor enthusiasts.  Ambulances are something new to me… but hey it’s a big world and I can see the fascination and I can even sort of see the passion*.  This form of transport plays an important role in society and has done so for a considerable amount of time.  This book looks at post 1900 ambulances and begins with some horse and carts and then moves pretty quickly into the automobile as preferred form of emergency transport.  It appears to be fairly comprehensive in its scope… this is of course a laymans opinion (mine) and there is possibly a definitive text on the subject that includes more detail than my uninitiated mind can even begin to imagine.  For now though, we are looking only at this book and I think this one is comprehensive.  There is only a small amount of text and the rest of the book is made up of excellent black and white photographs, many of which appear to be historical.  The publisher proudly states “Preserving History through the Publication of Notable Photographic Archives.  Printed in China.”

Some of these ambulances look so fantastic that I’m sure it was a pleasure to be picked up by them… to tell you the truth, I think I would rather have had emergency transport in the 1950s or 1960s than today.  These cars look amazing.

So how big is the interest in historical Ambulances? … I have no idea.  Hopefully anyone chasing this sort of book, will have their feelers out there scanning the www.    

*Sort of.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Illustrated Guide to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo

The Illustrated Guide to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, edited by Alessandro Bongioanni and Maria Sole Croce.  Paperback book published by The American University in Cairo Press 2001, 632 pages.

At the moment, here in Victoria, there is a bit of Egyptological mania going on… no, we aren’t building pyramids and no, we aren’t removing peoples brains through their noses …at least, not that I’m aware of.  The Melbourne Museum (it’s in Melbourne… and it’s a museum), has been lucky enough to exhibit the exhibition entitled “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs”.  I think this is what is known as a blockbuster exhibition.  Everyone’s going.  Some of my family went the other day and even with prebooked tickets they waited in line for more than an hour to get in… I think this gives you an idea on how popular this exhibition is.

So I think now is a good time to try and sell this guide to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.  Now is when Egypt fever is happening… six months from now it will be a distant memory… a bit like ancient Egypt.  Sure, this guide book is not going to be much help here in Melbourne, Victoria… at least, I don’t think they brought EVERYTHING over… but it should get all those Tutankhamun fans hyped and ready for the big event.  The excellent photographs and brief descriptions, are also perfect if you would rather sit at home and avoid the demonstrations, riots and general unrest (… that’s in Egypt… not Melbourne…), or the crowds (in Melbourne).  Of course anyone buying this book could actually use it in Cairo as intended.  Apparently if you do go to the Museum (not the one in Melbourne) not much is labeled in English and this guide book is the thing you want in your hand when looking at very dead people and their stuff. 

Anyway, I’ve written about this now because it’s topical here at the moment.  Recently I’ve sold a number of books on this subject.  Over the past 2 years I’ve become a little more selective in my ancient history purchases as this subject doesn’t seem to sell as well as I think I should.  Maybe now with all this interest and hype, things will change.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Production and Packaging of Non Carbonated Fruit Juices and Fruit Beverages

Production and Packaging of Non Carbonated Fruit Juices and Fruit Beverages, edited by P.R. Ashurst.  Hardcover book published 1999.

“This book reviews the fruit juice and fruit beverage industry (including nectars) from grower to distributor, including fruit handling and processing, chemistry and characterization, analysis, quality control, nutritional value and packaging.”

This is another one those books that I got very excited about when I found it.  It’s a title that just screams out, “I am so specific, that anyone interested in this subject (?) just has to buy me”.  Seriously, I stood there holding it thinking to myself there can’t be many titles looking at Non Carbonated Fruit Juices… there might be a few articles here and there, probably in food technology magazines or beverage journals but another whole book… Well, possibly, but like this title, I reckon any others will also be a little scarce.  The chapters have bibliographies and/or references and/or further reading, at the end of them and they all pretty much reference magazines and journals (as I suspected).  The chapter entitled “Authentication of Orange Juice” has 7 pages of it… this book is serious stuff… pulp fiction it ain’t. 

So who wants this juicy title?  (Now available through Books &Collectibles)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

John Pawson

John Pawson.  Paperback book published by Gustavo Gilli 1992.

I’ve now had this book for a few years.  I originally decided, after a failed ebay attempt, that rather than selling the book cheap to another book dealer, I would keep it for the future.  What that future would be, I had no idea at the time… but here we are and it’s now the future.  The reason I wanted to keep the book, was that I felt that it was something special and those of you who know John Pawsons work will know what I’m talking about.  In other words, I like the book.

“John Pawson (born 6 May 1949) is a British designer associated with the minimalist aesthetic.”

There is a little bit more information in Wiki but not much… it’s very minimal.  Even the title of this book is… minimal.  When I found this book I had no idea who this guy was, my knowledge was… minimal.  I liked the cover… it’s minimal, and you know “you can always tell a book by it’s cover”… or something like that….  It’s got great photographs and illustrations of… minimal designs. 

The book has a gift inscription signed by “John”.  Not uncommon for his books, but still a nice touch.  The www lists the book as worth a bit… which is another reason I didn’t want to sell it off cheap.  I’ve now listed the book on Books & Collectibles… lets face it, it has more of a chance of selling there, than in a box under my desk where the chance of selling it are… minimal.

So since my failed ebay attempt those few years ago, I do wonder if there is much interest in John Pawson now… or is interest…

Monday, May 16, 2011

Clunes Booktown final roundup.

Hello everybody.  It’s over.  Clunes Booktown 2011 has finally passed. 

The Sunday ended up being exactly as I (and others) theorized… that is, more people visited on the Sunday than in previous years due to the better weather and possibly to meet and hear some of the guest speakers.  My sales figures overall were 35% up on last year (2010) which was down by 20% on the year before (2009).  This is great news (the 35% up, not the 20% down).  I sold 1/3 of my stock.

I didn’t manage to take many photos in the end.  I visited some other book dealers that I know and asked if I could take a photo and some said yes, but a few did not want themselves in the photos.  This happened more than once… I guess we Booksellers are the quiet types who don’t like the attention… or we think the camera will steal our souls… not sure, but in their defence I will add that there are no photos of me here either.

Firstly, this is Jon from Revolve Records in Sydney… yes they sell books as well.  This is the second year that he has had the stall next to me and I’m looking forward to being his neighbour again next year.  A very agreeable person.  He had a number of trestle tables full of $2 books… this is a picture of him on his way to putting more $2 books on the trestles.  Your probably thinking how cheap this is.  Well the truth is that the books he was selling for $2 were not books that I would even begin to look at (they didn’t meet the “of interest” criteria)… I think most people were being ripped off at $2… but that’s just my opinion and the truth is that they sold very well, probably because they were $2 and not because they were any good.  He had a heap of great books ("of interest") at heftier prices as well. 

This is a few photographs of Sainbury’s stall.  Unfortunately it doesn’t really give a good idea of what they had.  I can tell you that they also had a trestle table outside on the street with some competitive pricing (this means cheap).  From what I can gather, they were happy with the weekend sales.

Book Fossiker is owned and run by Joan Rogers who also sells on line and also lives here in Clunes.  She was very helpful in giving me some advice and tips when I was setting up my Books & Collectibles account.  She had some lovely books.  The green box to the right in this picture was a set of Narnia books published by the folio society… they looked amazing and were also $$$. 

Flinders books.  The lady is Hilde and that’s her son Sullivan.  I met them the night before at the booksellers dinner… yes there was a booksellers dinner that I haven’t written about, imagine a room full of book dealers eating and chatting… it was very enjoyable (really).  Anyway I met these 2 as well as a heap of other booksellers from all over Australia.  In the background of this photo you can see some of the Brown and Bunting stall.  They weren’t there when I was taking my photos so I couldn’t ask if it was OK.

Anyway, it’s all over for another year.  I will be selling again next year.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Clunes Booktown 2011 Saturday

It’s now Sunday morning.  Yesterday was a roaring success… well maybe not roaring… lets say that yesterday was great and I was very happy with my sales.  Takings were up approx 15% and that was on a day of predicted bad weather… which ended up being brisk with very minimal rain.  Apparently it bucketed down with rain in Melbourne in the early morning which was also predicted for some of Victoria.  Today forecast for Clunes is mostly sunny.  The theory is that people that may have decided to not come to Clunes yesterday will come today.  I of course like this theory as in the past 2 years the Sunday trade has been sluggish.

So what did people buy yesterday… everything.  A lot of people were looking at and buying cookbooks, fiction (all sorts), not much interest this year in craft and art.  Lots of other stuff has sold, too many genres to mention but I think my nothing over $10 marketing plan has worked.  I’ve spruicked this important information constantly and people have seemed very pleased to find out that my pricing is very reasonable… with 1 exception.  A gentlemen thought the $6 was too much to pay for a hardcover childrens book from the 1970s… this was a little annoying.  Overall all though people have seemed to be very happy with my prices.

A few nice compliments on my stock.  Someone commented that I have very different books to everyone else (this was a compliment… I ask them if it was). 

I did get a break yesterday and forgot to take some photos, will attempt to do so today.

Finally the Huc & Gabet logo/signage.

Huc & Gabet new logo/signage.

Finally, after 3 years of careful consideration, indecision and task avoiding, I now have a logo/signage.  This stuff takes a long time with me.  I’m not sure why but it does.  It took me 3 years to get the name Huc & Gabet and that was me actively pondering.  So another 3 years for a logo is not really that unexpected.  I’m writing about this now, as this weekend (another blatant plug for this event) I will be unveiling my new signage… OK the truth is… I’ll be whacking up these laminates around my stall.  There is a possibility there may be one larger “fancy” sign… still not definite though.

(This is a dodgy photograph... it doesn't really look that blurry.  The original file was too big to send over the www.  This will give you an idea of what it looks like)

Some of you might be thinking what’s all the fuss about… or maybe even thinking you don’t like it.  Fair enough, it is just a logo supposed to give an idea of who and what I am… you know… a bookseller. 

There's a long history to this logo.  The first 18 months were very slow and tentative and realistically nothing happened due to my indecision and lack of... whatever i lacked.  Some assistance was offered (thanks Ingrid) but... well... nothing happened (i take full responsibility).  Then along came Alina who offered some help and recommended a great website for fonts.  She was very encouraging and generally of great assistance… still took me another 18 months after this to finish the whole thing, but I look upon this whole process as really beginning with her kind offer of assistance.  …and then after finding an image that I liked, I needed some more help with some photoshop skills to remove an unwanted object from the image (I am sadly lacking in this area of expertise... probably one of the reasons this takes me so long).  Alina once again came to the rescue in the middle of studying, parenting and lack of any spare time… truly appreciated.  So i had the font and the image but needed a hand with how to put it all together.  Mel is someone who lives here in Clunes and I was aware that he had been involved in design etc and so I figured I would ask him if he would assist me with some of his graphic design skills, and he didn't hesitate in saying yes… what I didn’t know was that Mel had studied graphic design in the 1960s and is completely computer illiterate… not to worry though.  He had some excellent advice and design ideas.  Finally my good friend Richard who does have excellent computer graphic skills (and other skills), kindly assisted with putting the whole thing together for me.  This was done on very short notice… again truly appreciated. I think my design team, who aren't really a team, have succeeded, and i am happy to say i am happy with the results.

Over the next few days I’ll be doing some quick posts/updates from the book fair, probably with lots of photos.  Stay tuned.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Clunes Booktown 2011 Friday set up

As i live in Clunes, i fortunately don't have to hire a van or trailer etc to get my stock where it has to go.  The 150 metres is a little far to carry 39 boxes of stock so my little car has to do a few trips around the corner... which isn't that bad.  At the court house end there were school children lending a hand unloading... which was excellent.  Unfortunately by the time i got to my third load they had moved on to a larger project and were busily standing around doing very little, watching a few others do a lot.  But i am appreciative of the help that i did get (...i don't want to sound like a grumpy old man... which i guess i am). 

Anyway i spent the next hours sorting and figuring out what goes where... and then close to having filled my space i realised i have too much stock.  There are about 7 or 8 boxes that i haven't unpacked as of yet.  The good side is that at no point will my displayed stock level drop... the bad side is that someone looking for that Andy Warhol book wont find it until i've sold some other books and manage to squeeze Andy in.

There is something i haven't mentioned, which i my game plan.  No books over $10.  Last year i had a whole shelf of collectible books, rare books and very rare books and sold next to none... People didn't even look at it.  My cheaper stock (all quality and "of interest" of course) fared much better. The answer i think is give the public what they want.

Anyway here are a few photos of my stall.  Looks a bit messier than last year.  This could be a good thing as it makes it look a little less precious/expensive.

It's early morning... the calm before the storm.  Better get my thermos ready... and get me ready.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Skippy The Bush Kangaroo Annual.

Skippy The Bush Kangaroo Annual.  Hardcover book published in 1970.

First of all click here.

Now that you’re all in the mood… Skippy The Bush Kangaroo, not to be confused with any of the other Skippys like Skippy The Urban Kangaroo or Skippy The Outback Kangaroo or Skippy The Squished Kangaroo (lying on the side of the road collecting flies), is a true Aussie icon.  Who doesn’t remember Skippy?  Who doesn’t remember the song ? (…I wish I didn’t and now that I’ve reminded you, I bet you wish you didn’t).  OK, if you weren’t living in Australia or weren’t born at the time there is a chance that you won’t have heard of this… although the TV series was shown in over 80 countries and I’m pretty certain that it was, and is, oft repeated worldwide.  Lets face it, Osama Bin Laden probably watched Skippy.

(From an early Egyptian translation of Skippy The Bush Kangaroo Annual... or maybe not.)

The book doesn’t contain any photographs other than those on the cover.  It does have illustrations throughout and the contents are the usual “Annual” type affair with, stories, games, bits of information etc.  My favourite bit is actually on the front cover. “Authorised edition based on the Famous Television Series.” “Authorised edition” makes me wonder how much unauthorised Skippy there was/is.  In 2008 Tony Bonner (one of the actors… but not a Kangaroo) sued the company that has the rights for Skippy as they were still raking in the cash… I guess this was all about “unauthorised”.  Of course the Kangaroos and their descendents haven’t received any royalties either (I haven’t fact checked this) and to top it all off their National Park has been actively sought after by housing developers and they were all removed in August 2009 (this is true)… I wonder how “authorised” that was*.  

... anyway, this is a perfect way to relive those happier Skippy times.

*This did receive a bit of Media attention at the time.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Danziger Trilogie by Gunter Grass.

Danziger Trilogie by Gunter Grass.  Hardcover book published 1980.

Gunter Grass’s Danzig Trilogy (The Tin Drum, Cat and Mouse, Dog Years) are true classics of modern German Literature.  Indeed, The Tin Drum (the first book) was voted one of the best German novels of the twentieth century*.  Berlin Alexanderplatz also made the list and I would like to add that I would have voted for both of them… that is if anyone had of asked me.  I have read the Danzig trilogy (in English of course) and many other GG titles (that’s Gunter Grass… not Graham Greene) and I find that his books seem to have stuck with me.  They are not easily forgotten. This is something I like in a book and to be honest there aren’t many contemporary writers who seem to have this ability (my humble opinion).   

“Strange to say, I expected more from literature than from real, naked life.” Gunther Grass

Set in a surreal wartime Germany, or maybe that’s what Germany was like at the time, these books are epic and confronting, which I guess is why they stick in my mind… and I guess this is why some people don’t like them.  There are those who think Grass’s work is garbage (you know who you are) and there are those who would give him the Nobel Prize for literature.  I personally would give him the prize.

So this collection of the 3 books in one volume is of interest because it’s in German.  I wrote a while ago about how difficult it is to sell foreign language titles. 

“So why pick this one up?” you ask.
“Well Mr. Grass is a popular writer and these books are a fantastic read.” I reply.
“But Huc, or Gabet, or which ever one you are, you’ve indicated that you’ve had limited success selling foreign language titles in the past.”
“Ah yes, but I have managed to sell Gunter in the original German.”
“Then WHY have you mentioned having difficulty selling foreign language titles?”
“… ummm, ummm… that was more of a general comment, not meant as a golden rule.”

To be honest, the other Gunther Grass that I sold wasn’t on the www.  It was at Booktown last year (yes this is another blatant plug for this event).  It was a lovely sealed box set of paperbacks. So I do know there is some interest, but like all fiction, I find it hard to sell it on the www.  With Gunther’s reputation and position as one of the great writer’s of the post war period, I feel pretty confident that if I can’t sell this on ebay, I can sell it elsewhere.

Finally, anyone out there who hasn’t read The Tin Drum, you should… even in English it’s a masterpiece.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The International Encyclopedia of Shooting, edited by Michael Brander.

The International Encyclopedia of Shooting, edited by Michael Brander.  Hardcover book published 1972.

Shooting/Hunting books… some of you may choose not to read this blog entry… which is a good idea if you are sensitive to the idea of hunting… If you are still reading this and are a bit touchy about the idea of killing for sport, maybe you shouldn’t read any further…

Hunting is a very emotive subject.  To be honest I personally don’t feel all that comfortable with the idea of hunting for sport or pleasure… but I wont go into the whole politics of hunting and my personal beliefs and feelings, partially as I would then have to have some “beliefs and feelings” which as soon as I start thinking about them, become very complex and more than I really wish to write about here.   Is this a cop out?  Yes it is.  Possibly even more of a cop out as despite writing about some sort of vague lack of comfort, I’m still willing to sell this book.  But you know what, I don’t feel very comfortable selling books about Alien abduction either.  If I were to not sell books on all the subjects I don’t particularly have an interest or liking (or comfort) for, it would be slim pickings and it wouldn’t be long before the wolves were at my door… I guess I could shoot them… (the wolves)(just checked… no listing for wolves, so maybe I wouldn’t shoot them).

This book is basically an A to Z of hunting.  Many countries are dealt with as are specific animals… Australia hasn’t been left out, Kangaroos and Wallabies are mentioned (… foreign readers of this blog may find it a bit strange that we eat our national emblems, they are very tasty… marinated in a little bit of soy and garlic and cooked rare… beautiful).  All of the entries are quite brief and basically provide an introduction to the subject.  There’s even a conservation aspect to some of the entries.  The following is from the publishers blurb:

“The importance of game management control of breeding, predators and culling, are also dealt with amongst many other aspects, always remembering that today the sportsman is in the forefront of the battle against needless deaths of wildlife. The modern shooting man’s role in active conservation is fully recognized.”

Wow, sensitive hunters and this was 1972… My big question though is why is this picture on the back of the dust jacket?

“When the elephant is down it is advisable to run up and put another bullet into the back of the neck…”

I guess in 1972 it was OK to kill something this big (?).  Here at Huc & Gabet we don’t like the idea of shooting something that is this big (and difficult to eat in one sitting), that it would be hard to miss and overall we don’t approve.  I like elephants… (but I can’t eat a whole one).  My hope is that whoever buys this book doesn’t get the urge to go out and kill an elephant, in the same way that I hope people don’t go out and get abducted by aliens after buying an alien abduction book.  The book does have lots of other animals to kill, so let’s hope the new owner is happy killing some of those instead… or maybe not.