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Mild to Moderate Bibliomania | A Bookseller’s Diary


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No kid in America ever dreams of growing up to be a bookseller, including me. I thought I was set for life with a career in corporate communication when I met a guy connected with one of Denver’s newspapers.

We were talking one day and he asked me if I liked books. I did. He said I should do book reviews, so I started doing that – and accumulating books.  My friend eventually drifted into book scouting. He would visit thrift stores and yard sales looking for books he could sell to used bookstores. He’d call me up on Monday mornings and tell me about his finds – a $50 book bought for 50 cents. A collection of Oz books for a buck apiece. A signed copy of “In Cold Blood” for a pittance. I was hooked. 

I started trying to understand what made books valuable.

By that time, my friend had opened a used bookstore, so I would try to find him books he could sell. I’d map out weekend garage sales and dash from one to the other. I likened my quest to fishing: Luck is involved, but so is skill.

Bookscouting was urban fishing. Sometimes I came home skunked. Sometimes, I came home with as many books as my car could hold.

I’d take my finds to my bookseller friend, and he would go through each book, telling me why this one was worthwhile, why that one wasn’t, why this one was a first edition, why that one was a cheap book club reprint. I came to remember details about books while forgetting details about other parts of my life. I read booksellers’ catalogs, books about books – anything I could get my hands on to learn more about the used book trade.

I became obsessed with finding books. I discovered ways to get into book sales before they opened. I started putting on book sales for non-profits just so I could get the first crack at the books. I started a publication that reviewed books so that I could get publishers to send me copies to review. I filled my library with books, then started on friends’ basements.

My turning point came in 2008. I reached my career objective when my wife got a great job. At the same time, the company I was working for was doing layoffs. I asked my boss to include me. He did.

I began my second career as a bookseller. I never felt better about what I was doing, never got more satisfaction from anything else I did, never lost sleep because of work, and never again had to sit through a damned PowerPoint presentation.

In the days ahead, I’ll tell you all about it.

– Dan Danbom
Printed Page Bookshop
printedpagebookshop.com | facebook.com/PrintedPageBookshop

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