Come out to The Bookshop in Old New Castle this Saturday between 10am and 2pm to check out the mini-book fair and sale held by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the ABAA. With thirteen booksellers showcasing their finest materials, you are sure to find some excellent books, all which will be available for purchase.
The event will also feature a book signing by Joel Silver of his new publication, Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly: Book Collecting in a Golden Age. This book is a microcosm of a great age of book collecting, in which choices were made by booksellers and collectors alike that shaped the contents of some of the greatest research libraries of today.
In addition to Oak Knoll, Antipodean Books, Between the Covers Rare Books, Black Swan Books, Brian Cassidy Bookseller, Certain Books, Hammer Mountain Book Hall, The Kelmscott Bookshop, Bruce McKittrick Rare Books, the Old Bookshop of Bordentown, Willis Monie Books, Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts, and Wellread Books will be participating in the fair.
Oak Knoll Books will be open all day Saturday from 9am to 5pm.
Click here for more information.
Here at Oak Knoll, we have been talking a lot about upgrading our website to offer easier browsing and navigation. We want to make sure that that time you spend on our site is enjoyable and efficient. So what do you think? Is it time for us to upgrade, or are you happy with our website as it is? Let us know your thoughts by emailing email@example.com or posting on our blog. Be sure to tell us what you like most about our website and what frustrates you the most. We would love to hear any suggestions you might have that would make your browsing experience the best it can be. We look forward to hearing from you!
Hello readers. My name is James McKinstry, and I am the newest employee at Oak Knoll. I live in Kennett Square, PA, so it’s a pretty long commute. I went to high school at Archmere Academy, and college at Ursinus College where I received a degree in Mathematics. Although math may not be the first thing you think of when you picture working for a bookstore/publisher, I have been around books all my life. In fact, when I was young, a request for a new book was the only thing to which my parents couldn’t say no. So really, this is a wonderful place for me to work. There’s the old cliché about not working a day in your life if you love what you’re doing, but it’s cliché for a reason. It’s true. But anyway, my responsibilities include book photography, book cataloging, and customer service. So, if something goes amiss, I’m the one you should contact. Hopefully things here will keep running smoothly enough that most of you won’t have cause to get in touch with me. But if you do, I’ll do what I can to solve your problem in a timely fashion.
Well, I should get back to what I was doing.
Thanks for reading this,
We recently announced that Line, Shade and Shadow: The Fabrication and Preservation of Architectural Drawings by Lois Price won the 2011 Historic Preservation Book Prize. It was chosen as the most significant contribution to the intellectual vitality of historic preservation in America. A book of this excellence takes years of research and work. Read about Lois Price and her journey in creating such a fascinating work.
This book began with a search for information that was not there. As a paper conservator working at a busy regional conservation center, the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) in Philadelphia, I never knew what kind of material would appear on my roster of treatments, and it was impossible to ignore the increasing number of architectural drawings and blueprints that entered the lab in the late 1980s. The wonderful images, unfamiliar materials, and mysterious reprographic processes piqued my curiosity. They reawakened a somewhat dormant interest in architecture that began in my undergraduate days during a course in American art, continuing through my senior honors thesis on American architecture and even into a few additional graduate courses. Interest renewed, I began a largely unsuccessful search of secondary sources looking for information about materials and techniques. Collection curators had some answers but not in the depth and detail I needed. Architects were distinctly uninterested in discussing the craft of creating their drawings, though I learned a lot about design theories, competitions, and the big one that got away. And so, the odyssey through original source material— drawings, trade catalogs, builders and drafters manuals, and technical treatises on the manufacture of specialty materials, began.
Fast forward a decade and a half through many libraries, a job change, several research grants to a manuscript, and a list of possible illustrations, and enter Oak Knoll Press in the person of John Von Hoelle. He had much encouragement and a commitment for publication. Little did I know that another odyssey was just beginning. With Oak Knoll’s encouragement, the list of possible illustrations grew to over 350, including images that illustrated every facet of the text. Securing them and writing the captions was a huge and time consuming challenge that took almost five years, but thanks to the wonders of digital photography and the generosity of several institutions, particularly the Athenaeum of Philadelphia and the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, everything finally came together. If you can call a motley collection of black and white prints, color transparencies, 35mm slides, and a large stack of CDs, together.
When my manuscript was finally ready for editing, Laura Williams took on the task, and began making sense of the daunting stack of images. She patiently saw the manuscript through two rounds of copy editing and finally typesetting and design. That first look at the text in print and the stunning design will remain a memorable moment. Next, we traversed several rounds of galley proofs as I fretted about typos, color accuracy, and image resolution. The best part of the editing and publication process, of course, was the need to visit Oak Knoll in New Castle on a regular basis and peruse the bookshelves. I occasionally brought my students and we never left empty handed.
I still see the transformation of my initial vision of what we needed to know about architectural drawings to a beautifully printed book as rather miraculous. Oak Knoll is a small press and things do take time, but there is a real commitment to working with the author and getting it right. For that I am extremely grateful.
We want to congratulate Lois Price again on winning the 2011 Historic Preservation Book Prize. We are excited to see all of her hard work pay off!
Click here for more information on Line, Shade and Shadow.
The Internet has had a dramatic effect on the prices and availability of antiquarian books. This is great news for the consumer but has required some serious thinking by all of us “old-timers” in the business (I started selling books about books in 1976).
What happens when you consistently sell David Randall’s Dukedom Large Enough for $45 for a number of years (fine in dust jacket) but then go on-line today and find it being sold for $18 by other booksellers?
This scenario was starting to happen often enough that I decided to sit down one night (November 2009) next to a shelf of my books and analyze how my prices compared to those of other dealers. This process was accompanied by a bottle of wine, of course, to ease my work. I took each book off the shelf and compared it to the search result for that book using Vialibri.net (the best of the out-of-print search engines, in my opinion). I made sure I was comparing “apples to apples” by eliminating POD (print on demand) copies and making sure that the edition and condition were as close as possible. My test case showed that my copy was infrequently the lowest priced copy on the web, more often higher in price than a comparable copy, and sometimes was lost in a vast number of $1 to $5 copies of the same book.
I have always made a point of making sure that I price my books fairly, as long-time customer relationships are very important to me. I want my customers to know that when they see a book that I list, they can feel confident that a search for that book in the inventory of other dealers will show that Oak Knoll knows their business and understands the principles of supply and demand. Because this is my specialty, throughout the years I have seen more copies of books about books than any other dealer, making me, in a way, the arbitrator of the prices. I know what books sell well consistently and what books don’t, and I have priced material accordingly.
However, my analysis showed me that I needed to lower my prices for the majority of our books. But what would my customers think? How would they react to seeing books that they had purchased from me over the last year or so listed at a lower (sometimes significantly) price? Would they understand the dynamics of the new Internet market?
My first plan was to have a series of sales of material in the $75 to $100 range. I started posting sales on the Internet that offered a 60% discount on the group of books chosen. The sales did well, as everyone likes a sale. However, when I really looked at what was selling and what wasn’t, I found that the arbitrary discount being offered was much too much in some cases, much too little in some cases, and about right in a few cases. Back to my shelves I went (with another bottle of wine), and I spent a few days doing a thorough analysis of the books. As much as I dreaded the conclusion, it was obvious that I had to do a complete physical inventory and price analysis OF EVERY SINGLE BOOK IN MY INVENTORY (then currently about 24,000). It was an ugly thought, as it would take a huge amount of time to complete the process.
We can now fast-forward 13 months to today, when the task is done! Every one of the books has been taken off the shelf, looked up using Vialibri.net, and had the price adjusted or re-affirmed. A side effect of this process of examining each book in the physical inventory was the dozens of interesting books we discovered that had become lost over the years. We also used the opportunity to make sure we took an image of the book for the website, as images give the customer additional confidence in the quality of the book.
What was the result?
14% went to $5. This section is the fastest selling section of the re-priced books
58% decreased in retail price with the average price decreasing by 51%
25% stayed the same
3% increased in retail price
We now have about 22,000 books for sale as many of the re-priced books have already sold. I’m confident that I can now announce to the world that shopping at Oak Knoll Books can be done with confidence in our darn good competitive prices.
Now go to our web site and see what I mean!
Ps I have not had one person email me about all the prices changes. I think the consumer understands the massive change in book-selling caused by the Internet.
I’m Sanjay. I’m a medical student. But I’m taking some time off from that right now, and while I do, I’m here at Oak Knoll shelving books that need shelving and finding books on the shelf that need finding. A weekend or two ago, I had the pleasure of working at and attending my first Oak Knoll Fest. While I am pretty clueless about the world of bibliophilia, something about the fest felt warmly familiar.
Now, besides being an aspiring med student and book shelving technician, I’m also a webcomic writer. For three years, I have drawn a comic every day and put it on the internet. In doing so, I became part of a pretty fantastic community of comic writers. By taking to the web, we can self-publish, explore the form and content of a comic in ways that would be impossible on paper, and reach niche audiences who appreciate it.
And though private presses are celebrating and expanding everything that can be done with print, while webcomics are silently eroding the medium, as I listened to the Sunday speakers, I was struck by similarities. Martyn Ould’s talk about his misadventures in printing got plenty of laughs about things I don’t understand in the least. It worked because Oak Knoll Fest brought together like-minded people in the same way the internet does. While most people wouldn’t understand why dampening certain types of paper before printing on them is a terrible idea (I don’t), that doesn’t matter when you have a room full of private press printers to laugh at such foolishness. And when Russell Maret talked about finding a perfect marriage of type and content in the face of big commercial presses that don’t get it, it reminded me of the same explorations of comic form that are possible when you ditch the big comic companies.
I only wish there was a webcomic parallel to sneaking to the Thames in the dead of night to dump all your typesetting equipment into a river, forever saving your type from being commercialized. Amazing.
I had a great time at Oak Knoll Fest. Most of the time I was sitting in the bookstore, listening to blues music, waiting to help a customer. I even had time while I wasn’t helping any to draw my comic for the day. It was a fantastic weekend and my only regret is that I didn’t have more time to get to visit the exhibitors.
Thanks for reading. Maybe I’ll find a book for you one of these days!
-Sanjay, Book Shelving Technician
Alas, bibliophiles and blog-followers, it is time for me to end my sojourn in the antiquarian book world. For those of you who read my first post (Thanks to those who commented!), you know that I am going to get married soon. My wedding will be on September 18th, and after that I will be moving with my bride to Mount Joy, PA in Lancaster County, after which I will be busy looking for a new job while cooking wonderful meals for me and my working wife. On that note, if any of you needs a polite and responsible Customer Service and Problem Solver person, I know of a guy…
But enough with the shameless self-marketing. I have had a good journey here at Oak Knoll, from my time as a part-time Book Cataloguer during my college years to the present where I have served as the Head of Customer Service, Problem Solver, and Bookkeeper. I have been exposed to many new things and ideas here in this jungle of bibliomania, and I have made my own small contributions to the Oak Knoll culture as well, the most important of which has been my role as Founder and Head Serviceman of CFTMMT, (or Chinese Food Thursday Morale Management Technique), which has significantly boosted employee morale. I just hope that my legacy remains and that someone will be able to carry on the banner and build upon where I left off. In the end, I am satisfied because the circle is now complete, and my last day will be the best day of the week…Chinese Food Thursday.
For your reading pleasure, I leave you now with this limerick tercet which I believe partially represents my time here:
To you patrons with problems and doubts
It’s best not to shout, flout, or pout
There is a good chance
With an ounce of patience
That your problems will sort themselves out.
I’m a Book-keeper in a bookstore
and I’m one of the best you’ll look for
Books don’t get out of line
And I keep them confined
So how come the money’s no more?
My thanks to Oak Knoll and its staff
For all of the memories and laughs
We have had tons of fun
And we’ve barely begun
So let’s pour from another carafe!
–Tim, Bookkeeping and Customer Service
Next week we will introduce Barbara, Oak Knoll’s new bookkeeper, and Chris, our new problem solver!
Today, I am getting ready to take on the Big Apple. I will be spending four nights in Manhattan visiting New York University, Columbia, Morgan Library and Museum, New York Public Library, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is the third time I will be embarking on library visits solo, and this visit I am fortunate enough to be staying with my Uncle who lives in New York City. In between visits, I will have the opportunity to visit with friends and family alike, all of which will make my trip worthwhile and fun.
But on to the more important matters–the visits. My first visit this morning will be to the Morgan Library and Museum, which I have not personally visited yet. This library houses one of the world’s greatest collections of artistic, literary, and musical works. Afterwards, I will be heading over to the ever famous NY Public Library—and there is just not enough space to write about all I will get to see there. On Wednesday, I will be visiting Columbia and NYU. My last stop on Thursday will be to the MET, which is what I am looking forward to most as I am eager to show them some interesting pieces in American Folk Art.
Overall, I am excited to show all of what Oak Knoll has to offer. I am well prepared, focused, and determined to make these visits a success. Wish me luck and I will be back next week!
Each month, we ask you a book-related question (either related to a recently published title, or a general question about Oak Knoll). Answering correctly gives you a chance to win free stuff from Oak Knoll. This month we’re giving away a $25 gift certificate to the randomly-selected winner. Here is this month’s question:
What is the origin of the name “Oak Knoll?”
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject line of “Biblio Trivia” by the end of the day on June 30th to enter.
Hint: Read previous blog posts to find the answer!