Guest Post: The League of Extraordinary Booksellers by Rich Warren
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
[Editor's Note: This week's guest post is from Rich, long-time friend and full-time bookseller. We've asked Rich to drop in occasionally to talk about genre life from the dealer's point of view. We're good at the looting, but know nothing about where the treasure comes from...]
After taking a break from the evils of corporate book selling for a year, I hope to return to the trade in November with my own business selling Fantasy and Science Fiction.
It is a sad trait among Booksellers that we really can't stay away, it's a disease. I recently met a pediatrician, a mechanic, and a divorce lawyer, who all have one thing in common, they can't stop selling books.
I thought I'd take a look at my top 10 Legendary Science Fiction and Fantasy Booksellers.
#1: L. W. Currey
I hope never to go to Currey's warehouse, I wouldn't be able to leave, not with the books the man has there. This is where you go if you need the best available copy of something on the planet. This is where you go if you need that unpublished sheaf of H. P. Lovecraft letters. This is where you go if you want an empty bank account, beacause quality doesn't come cheap.
L. W. Currey wrote the book - no, really, he did. Currey wrote 'Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: A Bibliography of first printings of their fiction and selected nonfiction' which is a standard reference work (updated onto CD-ROM in 2002).
#2: Greg Ketter
Greg has been selling Science Fiction and Fantasy since the 1970's, both at his stores in Minneapolis, through mail order, and at many Science Fiction, Fantasy and comic conventions throughout the US and abroad. In fact, it may be possible that Greg has sold books at every single convention dealer's room I've been into, he gets around.
Greg has also chaired two World Fantasy conventions, and currently looks after Neil Gaiman's online bookstore. You can add to that, he is also an all round nice guy. Greg also used to have a wonderful gentleman working for him called 'Peder D. Wagtskjold' who sadly passed away far too young. He too was a phenomenal bookman, and deserves to be part of 'The League of Extraordinary Booksellers'
#3: Erik Arthur/Ted Ball (Fantasy Centre)
Almost 40 years of selling Fantasy and Science Fiction to eager fans from their Holloway Road shop in London sadly came to an end in 2009 when the lease ran out and the guys retired. No journey through London was ever complete without a trip to Fantasy Centre to stock up. They knew their stock and would dive into boxes looking for exactly what you needed, making you a nice cup of tea along the way.
Erik and Ted also sold via mail order and conventions worldwide, including various Worldcons. The loss of Fantasy Centre, is like the loss of a national treasure. One less reason to visit London.
#4: Rog Peyton
Heavily involved in British Science Fiction Fandom since the 1960s, Rog Peyton launched Andromeda Book Company in the early 70s, which was open in Birmingham until 2002. Rog continued to sell online as Replay books after the demise of Andromeda. Like many of us he cannot stay away from Bookselling.
#5: Mark V. Zeising
Not only has Mark V. Ziesing been a recognized name in Science Fiction and Fantasy bookselling for nearly 40 years, he also was a small press publisher between 1982-1998, producing many high quality, well respected, and collectible books, first with his brother (as Zeising Brothers), then under the Mark V. Zeising name.
#6: Larry Smith
Larry Smith is a stalwart of the US Science Fiction and Fantasy convention circuit for many years. As far as I know he doesn't have a website, but, like Greg Ketter, I think Larry has been present selling books in the dealers rooms of every convention that I have attended in the USA, and has run many dealer's rooms, including those at World Fantasy.
#7: Marty Massoglia & Alice Massoglia (A+M Book Cellars/Massoglia Booksellers)
Marty and Alice Massoglia have been heavily involved in the West Coast convention scene for many years, and have been Booksellers for 20+ years. Having spent time speaking to many booksellers, and watching how booksellers work in preparation for my entry into the world of fantasy and Science fiction bookselling, I hold Marty up as a shining of example of how you should treat customers. A friendly, knowledgable man, who is a true fan at heart.
Alan Beatts, Jude Feldman and the other lovely folk that work for Borderlands, both in the store at San Francisco, and on occasional road trips to Worldcon, have for a long time provided us with delicious piles of beautiful books. Borderlands is both a new and used store, and no visit to San Francisco would be complete without a trip here. They excel at finding new and interesting fiction. Oh, and they do have the scariest cat known in the western world. [Editor's note: We agree on everything except the cat. Ash was really sweet to us.]
#9: Graham Holroyd
Graham Holroyd, as far as I can tell, is a weather vane for the true price of used genre fiction titles. Graham sells mail order, and through various online sources. As far as I can tell, the publisher search on his website has never worked, and he can't hear the phone because the warehouse is so vast. At any one time he has about 200, 000 books in stock. Quietly helping Science Fiction and Fantasy conquer the world for 25+ years.
#10: Porcupine Books
Brian Ameringen, from Porcupine Books, launched his business in 1998 and sells mail order, online, and through conventions in the U.K. Porcupine always have an interesting selection, and their prices have always been fair. If you need to find titles from an author's personal collection without it costing an arm and a leg, then Brian is your man. Last time we went shopping at Porcupine he sold us John Brunner's own copy of 'Shockwave Rider'.
Just one more...... #11: Uncle Hugo's
'Uncle Hugos', with its mystery counterpart 'Uncle Edgar's', has been a bedrock of genre bookselling up in Minneapolis for nearly 40 years. By reputation a fantastic bookstore, and one day I hope to make it up there.
This list is by no means definitive, and in no particular order. These terrific genre booksellers are the people that influenced me to start in the business as a Science Fiction/Fantasy Bookseller.