Local children's book author Mary Nethery is here signing her lastest book, Nini, accompanied by O'Ryan, a very tame cat brought by the Sequoia Humane Society. That's the latest from Eureka Books during Arts Alive.
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.
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.
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.
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.