EUREKA BOOKS (est. 1987)
426 2nd St. Eureka, CA 95501. Map It
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Help Identifying Children’s Book Artist

February 18th, 2008  |  by  |  published in Book Collecting

Does anyone know who made these illustrations? I just bought seven original paintings and drawings from an unknown children's book that appears to have depicted scenes from countries around the world. The artist signs his or her paintings with a capital T (shown below):
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Here are two typical examples. These fish are labeled "page 24 Islands – Java – Ceylon." The caption, typed and pasted on the bottom edge of the illustration, reads "Watching so many funny things, / Bright colored fish and fish with wings."
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A couple of the illustrations are monochromatic. I assume that some pages in the final book were in color and some were printed just in black. The example below is "page 50 Spain." It is captioned, "An orange-laden donkey spied / Burdened with fruit on either side."

I've tried googling the text of the captions and tried Amazon.com's "Search Inside" feature, with no luck. Anyone recognize the style?

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I’m going to wedge my body in the doorway

December 24th, 2007  |  by  |  published in Bookselling

Bibliophile Bullpen posted this video from Loomis Antiquarian Books in Stillwater, Minnesota, which is closing at the end of the month. It joins Book Baron (Los Angeles), Bogey Books (Davis, Calif), and Blue Dragon Books (Ashland, Ore.) in closing near the end of the year. There are probably more stores that I haven't heard about. As readers of this blog know, my wife (the author Amy Stewart) and I, with our friends, Jack and Peggy, bought Eureka Books as it was about to close. Here's Amy's take on it, as published recently in one of our local papers:

Last week, I called my brother in LA and told him that my husband Scott and I were buying an antiquarian bookstore. He considered our occupations–magazine editor, author, and now bookstore owner–and said, “Wow. Books, magazines–you guys are really getting into a growth industry up there.”

“Yes, we believe the printed page is the wave of the future,” I said, “and we’re investing in it heavily.”

Yikes. As I write this, I have been the part-owner of Eureka Books for less than 24 hours. It’s a grand, glorious old place, crammed to the ceiling with odd and offbeat treasures like Victorian marriage manuals, yellowed sheaves of sheet music, and even a Zane Grey novel bound in flamboyant marbled papers. A few days ago, a book scout came through looking for inventory to sell to dealers, and he pulled out what may be the first novel about Alcoholics Anonymous. The term ‘alcoholism’ was so new, back in the 1940s when the novel was published, that it had to be defined on the dust-jacket flap. The scout paid four bucks for it and may sell it for twenty to a dealer who specializes in AA books. The dealer might sell it to a collector for $120. Every book finds its home eventually. So it goes in the rare book trade.

I don’t know a damn thing about rare books—I like my paperbacks cheap and tattered—but I know that I plan to fight long and hard against the alleged demise of the book. Let the National Endowment for the Arts make dire predictions about the decline in reading. Let Sony, Apple, and Amazon roll out one handheld e-book device after another. I’m having none of it. I love the smell of an old book, I love the heft of a hardcover, and I love getting to know a person by browsing their bookshelves. Surely I’m not the only one. Antiquarian bookstores all over the country are closing their doors, but by God, I’m going to wedge my body in the doorway of this one and keep it open.

Scott, who founded a magazine about rare books, is in charge of figuring out a strategy for making a nineteenth century-style bookstore viable in the twenty-first century. He’s been a book dealer before and he’s in touch with the movers and shakers in the antiquarian book world. Most of them are well past retirement age and their kids aren’t interested in old books. They give him fatherly advice and drop hints about where a few good private collections might be had for a decent price. Several of them have told him that he’s crazy for buying a bookstore in this digital age, but they say it fondly, the way your dad might tell you that you’re crazy for restoring an old Mustang or taking your rock band on the road. It’s crazy, but in a good way.

As for me, I hope to pull a shift in the store once in a while so I can live out my romantic writer/bookstore-owner fantasies. Just yesterday, I was browsing the shelves when I came across a whole section of books on a bit of obscure botanical history that I’ve been interested in lately. I started to pull the books off the shelf to see if I could afford them, and then I thought, “Wait a minute. I’ve already bought them. I totally own all these books.”

That’s a dangerous thought. On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to work in the store. I never could stand to part with a good book.

(reprinted from the North Coast Journal, December 12, 2007 issue)


Eureka Books in the News

December 11th, 2007  |  by  |  published in Eureka Books

The community support for our acquisition Eureka Books has been extraordinary. Booklegger, the used book store on the corner, sent over a cake, the restaurant down the block brought us lunch over the weekend, and several shop owners have dropped by to wish us well. Yesterday, the local paper put a story about the store on the front page.

There's a story in Publishers Weekly's email news blast today. I don't know if it will be in the magazine as well. Better yet, we've had four good days in a row. We spent the weekend moving furniture around and reorganizing the front of the store. Yesterday, Christmas decorations went up. Today I'm back at work on the magazine.


Only in a Bookstore

December 7th, 2007  |  by  |  published in Eureka Books

This will be short as I have to open the store this morning. First, thanks to everyone for all their support. We really appreciate it. Second, here's one of those little miracles that can only happen in a bookstore like Eureka Books (see post below for details). On our first day as owners, a fellow from Los Angeles wandered in and found what's left of the estate of an LA-area photography teacher. We acquired it from his daughter who lives in this area. The photos mostly date from the 1950s and 1960s. Our LA guest was flipping through the photos when he came upon an 8 x 10 black-and-white portrait of his uncle. Needless to say, we sold it to him at a significant discount. You never know what you're going to find browsing in a real, honest-to-goodness bricks-and-mortar store.


Honey, I Bought a Bookstore

December 5th, 2007  |  by  |  published in Eureka Books

Interior

This is Eureka Books, one of the last classic antiquarian bookstores on the West Coast. As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, I own it (along with my wife and our friends Jack and Peggy Irvine). I like this picture because in black and white you really can't tell if it was taken last week (which it was) or twenty years ago. Those of you who scouted in Northern California probably know Carlos Benemann, the previous owner who is retiring from the book trade. He started out working for John Howell in the 1960s and opened his first shop in Humboldt County in 1982.

One of the former employees recently wrote about Jere Bob Bowden, the store manager, in the  Americana Exchange newsletter (A.E. Monthly). Karen Wright wrote:

Eventually, we moved from Oregon to Eureka, California, where I had the good fortune to immediately go to work for Eureka Books. The eight years I spent at Powell's taught me a lot about the book business, but the two years I worked for J.B. Bowden at Eureka Books taught me about books. J.B. was a stickler for searching long and hard through mountains of reference books to price a book correctly. Keep in mind that this was pre-Internet or, at least, just at the beginning of its rise to fame. Eureka Books did not even have a computer when I worked there, so I was forced to learn to price my books the old-fashioned (correct) way. I couldn't just jump online and see what some other idiot was pricing a book for and then undercut him by two dollars.

Mark Shikuma, who holds down the fort on the weekends, is a veteran of Gotham Book Mart in New York City, and a number of other bookshops around the country. Ann Hunt, the newest bookseller at Eureka Books, has been plying the book trade for ten years and is our master of the local history section. I look forward to working with them as Eureka Books starts its second twenty years. The next time you're in Northern California, beyond the redwood curtain, stop in and see us.

As for the magazine, it's business at usual. The January/February issue is just about in the can, and the stories for March are already flowing in. Now when people accuse me of not knowing what I'm talking about when it comes to the nuts-and-bolts reality of the book business, they may be right, but it's not for lack of trying.
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Fun and Games

November 28th, 2007  |  by  |  published in What's Up Online

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Bored at work? Between the Covers Rare Books has created two literary diversions (please use only during your federally mandated 15-minute breaks and your unpaid lunch hour). They have sound tracks, so if your boss is likely to walk by and think that exercising your literary chops is not essential to your highly paid position, turn off your speakers first. Basically, I suck at both games. I managed to go 0 for 8 trying to match the first lines of famous books with their covers, and the computer, which is dumb as a post, clobbered me on Letter-ature, a Wheel of Fortune–style game (And that after I guessed "The Shining" from only the clue: "horror fiction." The game does not reward greediness. If the spinner lands on lose your turn, you're toast). What, I wonder, is dumber than a post. If I were a bit smarter, I'd probably know the answer to that question.

A while back, BibliophileBullPen posted a link to an online vocabulary game called Free Rice. At last, a use for all the hours I spent learning words like proem ("an introduction to a literary work or a speech")!

Free Rice says it donates 10 grains of rice to feed the hungry for every word you get right. (The Internet says there are 29,000 grains in a pound, for what it's worth.) A blogger has calculated that the rice donation costs about $1,000 per day and that the ad revenue generated should be many times that (if you read that blog post, be sure to check out the comments because the initial math is straight out of the Internet bubble). Still, if you're into words, it's pretty fun, even if it might be a bit of a scam.


Pimp Your Book Cart Winner Announced

November 15th, 2007  |  by  |  published in Libraries and Exhibits

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The Unshelved blog's annual Pimp Your Book Cart winner has been announced and top honors goes to Timberland High School for it's library book trolley reimagined as a UPS truck, complete with working lights. The slogan "What Can Brown Do For You" refers to the school librarian, Mr. Brown. More entries can be seen here. Anyone want to start a pool for how long it will take UPS to contact the high school about trademark infringement?

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Also, from the Shelf Awareness newsletter, author Michael Perry's acceptance speech for an award he received from the Midwest Booksellers Association. He couldn't make the ceremony, so he made a video in which he muses about books and hypnotizes chickens. If you read this blog often enough, you know that is my exact demographic.


Which president sold $25,000 worth of books to Congress and helped start the Library of Congress?

November 14th, 2007  |  by  |  published in Libraries and Exhibits

Does anyone know why fifty people have come to my blog after Googling some variation on this question? I suspect it's a bunch of lazy students. If that's the case, I suggest thinking just a tiny bit before typing your question into Google. Let's see. Who could possibly have the answer. Hmm. This is very tough. I wonder if some place like the history page on the Library of Congress website would have the answer. Or you could look up Library of Congress on wikipedia, which copies most of the LC history page verbatim. The thing is, the reason it's hard to find the answer is that the question is wrong. Congress bought a 6,487-book library from an ex-president for $23,950. You can read all about it in the September/October 2007 issue of Fine Books & Collections magazine, but you have to actually get a copy. A lot of good stuff isn't free on the net. 


Books for Botox – A New Holiday Tradition

November 12th, 2007  |  by  |  published in Libraries and Exhibits

I am not making this up. A plastic surgery clinic is offering botox in exchange for books. This ad ran in today's (November 12) San Francisco Chronicle.
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The Maas Clinic even has a great domain name, www.booksforbotox.com, and a snappy slogan, "Looks for Books"! With all the books I have, I could have a second career as a model after visiting Dr. Maas, except I think I'd rather have the books than the looks (I wonder, though, what my wife would say about that).

This is the second year the Maas Clinic – with offices in Truckee (near Lake Tahoe) and San Francisco – has done this promotion. Last year, they reported that "With all the skin care, cosmetics and Botox treatments that were doled out [as a result of Books for Botox], everyone looks like they’re STILL on holiday!" Now that's what I call the Christmas spirit.

However, if you really want to help kids and libraries, donate money. That way they can buy the exact books they need. They don't really want your stack of ratty Harry Potters.


Michael Sharpe, Bookseller

November 7th, 2007  |  by  |  published in Bookselling

Here’s an article on Michael Sharpe, the collector who hired away several of Heritage Book Shop’s employees when that Los Angeles landmark closed recently. To quote, in part:

In just 20 years, Sharpe has amassed works of science, philosophy, medicine, exploration, religion, literature and mathematics, all classified as being in superb condition and worth about $25 million.

Together, they record the growth of Western civilization through everything from a Dead Sea Scroll fragment to “Gone With the Wind.”

But now Sharpe is ready to go from book collector to bookseller.

Michael Sharpe Rare & Antiquarian Books has just opened in a historic Craftsman house at 569 S. Marengo Ave., with a catalogued inventory worth around $8 million, about 20 percent of it from the personal collection kept at his Pasadena home.

“It was a little bit of a wrench,” Sharpe said of shipping some of his private library off to the store.

“I decided to keep history and science over literature,” he said. “I love them all, but it can take six to eight years to build up an inventory.


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