An interview of Rob Fleck was recently posted on the Fine Books & Collections column titled “Bright Young Things” by Nate Pedersen. In this section, Pedersen interviews young booksellers about their adventures in the exciting and sometimes challenging life of
bookselling. Rob reveals his collecting interests, what he likes most about the trade, and more.
For me the one thing that I love more about the book trade more than anything else is simple: the people. Going to book fairs is one of my favorite tasks to do for Oak Knoll. Many members of the ABAA/ILAB are extremely caring, nice, interesting individuals that all share the same interests. Very few of them don’t go out of their way to help you if you have a problem. Not to mention the countless amazing stories about bookselling and book collecting that are told around a shared bottle of wine.
Click here to read more of Rob’s interview.
My fiancé (Lauren) and I just got back from lovely Pasadena and the 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair. Oak Knoll hasn’t done a book fair in southern California for many years, but with a few new exciting collections that we received the past year, we thought that we should give it a try. In comparison to Century City, where it was held in previous years, the Pasadena convention center offered us booksellers a lovely new venue that had easy access to Colorado Ave (the main drag) and surrounding museums, restaurants, and shops. Winslow & Associates, in connection with the Huntington Library, did an excellent job at promoting the fair as Saturday morning felt like everyone in Los Angeles was there. All in all, it was very exciting for us!
Oak Knoll is excited to kick off 2012 with a set of New Year’s resolutions. We have each taken time to think of ways we can improve over the next year, and we wanted to share our ideas with you. Check out what we plan to do in the upcoming year.
Ah, there are so many that I should have made but didn’t. At least I haven’t broken any of them yet.
I need to learn to smile when a person is standing in my book store and asks “Do you buy books?” I guess they think that my books breed with each other in the late evening hours.
I need to learn to smile when the phone caller asks me the value of a book that has been in the family for decades but they can’t remember the full title or author. Bless Jim Hinck and vialibri.net as now I can just recommend that they visit that site.
I need to learn to smile when the person on the phone says that the book must go out that day, as it is a birthday present for his or her husband/wife/child in two days hence. Nothing like advance planning!
But wait – I’m actually smiling all the time because I have the greatest group here at Oak Knoll and have loved being a bookseller for 35 years. I smile when I come to work – how many people can say that?
Rob Fleck (Antiquarian & Library Sales)
Last year, we purchased two exciting collections from two long-time Oak Knoll customers. These collections helped make 2011 a great year for us and for you, our customers, by adding many important and rare books to our inventory. Our main goal for 2012 is to branch out to individuals or institutions that have collections that they would be willing to part with. We hope that 2012 will be the year of collection acquisition for Oak Knoll. It’s actually all very exciting to me! Send me an email at email@example.com if you have a collection that you’d like us to see.
This year I would like to discover more manuscripts and encourage more potential authors to write new books on the history of the book. We are particularly interested in new manuscripts on bookbinding, book collecting, printing, and typography, but please feel free to propose any project that could be considered a “book about books.” If you have a manuscript or a book idea, please check out our website and send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you, so don’t hesitate to contact me! I also plan to continue on the tradition of being the Oak Knoll party planner (or as Bob calls it “the Oak Knoll social butterfly”), as it’s one of my favorite roles here at work.
Danielle Burcham (Publishing and Marketing Assistant)
It’s been almost two years since I started working at Oak Knoll, and I have learned quite a bit since my first day! While at first it seemed like it took all my time just to learn the ins and outs of the book business, this year I plan to really focus my attention on expanding our audiences. This means finding new businesses and individuals who would have an interest in our books but haven’t yet heard of us. I hope to find more organizations and journals who would like to review our books, and I plan on using our social media platforms to facilitate this. If you haven’t hopped on the social media train yet, what are you waiting for? Follow us through facebook, twitter, and our blog. There is a lot to learn about us just through these sites alone!
While I will continue to maintain my responsibilities cataloging books, taking photographs (in our new and updated style), and providing customer service, I also plan to use my research skills to help our publishing department. I will explore library holdings and assist libraries in finding titles to add to their collections, while also finding new groups who might have an interest in our titles. I may even get more involved with our shipping department, helping to pull and pack books. I guess you could say I have my hand in a little bit of everything that goes on here at Oak Knoll.
Considering that I was raised in the image of Mary Poppins, (you know, “Practically Perfect in Every Way”), I failed to see the need for any New Year’s Resolutions. Fortunately, my colleagues quickly disabused me of that notion, so here I sit pondering my role at Oak Knoll and trying to understand how I can make your interactions with us the best possible. First of all, I will put a smile on my face before answering the phone. I once read that this simple action carries through in your voice, making it more welcoming. I will also try to remember if it is morning or afternoon, although I don’t seem to have much luck with that as frequent callers can attest. Yes, I’m the one who says Good…with a long pause…before the next words are out of my mouth. Maybe, I should just say “Hello?”
All kidding aside, each one of us here understands that without the support and patronage of our bibliophile friends, Oak Knoll would be no more than a memory. We come to work every day enthused and convinced that we will either help one of you find that long desired treasure, get the newly required text book for your latest class, or finally see your name in print as the author of a scholarly text. So, bring on 2012! We welcome it and you with smiles on our faces.
Not many personal stories make it to our blog very often, but I thought that I would fill people in on something that happened on New Year’s Eve. THIS GUY (uses two thumbs) got engaged to his girlfriend of almost six years, Lauren McNerney. We met in college back in 2005 when I was a junior and she was a sophomore, and we started dating shortly after that. We are currently looking for both a house and places to hold a wedding with a projected date in March/April of 2013. We have already lived with each other for a year and a half, so I think the initial stage of driving each other crazy is somewhat over! I’m definitely the lucky one.
This week Rob wrote a blog post about Oak Knoll’s new method of photography and our efforts to preserve and capture each book’s condition as best as possible. Check out another similar article on Yale University’s Bibliofile site that provides a training manual on how to handle rare books and other works on paper when photographing them. The article explains how to meet libraries’ preservation aims, while still meeting the needs of researchers. It is illustrated with many great photographs from Yale’s Medical Historical and Law Libraries.
Click here to read the full article.
Recently, Oak Knoll has been going through some changes, some of them more noticeable than others. One of these changes is in the way we take our images. Just under a year ago, I purchased a used Nikon D40 with an 18-55mm kit lens at a great price, which I intended to use for personal photography. I thought that it would be a neat item to take on trips, book fairs, holidays, you name it. After becoming somewhat familiar with it, I decided to try it out on a few books here at the shop. To my surprise, they came out much better than any of our previous images did before.
So about two months ago, after showing these images to people around the office, I finally offered the camera to Oak Knoll to use for taking our everyday pictures, as well as fine photography for catalogues. Based on customer feedback about our most recent catalogue, it’s been one of the most noticeable changes to happen to Oak Knoll in a long time. Click here to view a PDF our most recent catalogue.
The World of Books
Is the most remarkable creation of man
Nothing else that he builds ever lasts
Civilizations grow old and die out
And after an era of darkness
New races build others
But in the world of books are volumes
That have seen this happen again and again
And yet live on
Still as fresh as the day they were written
Still telling men’s hearts
Of the hearts of men centuries dead
What Clarence Day meant by this saying was that no matter what, through all the hardships that have occurred through human history, the book has somehow, and miraculously, made it through. However, we are entering a world of Kindles, Nooks, and iPads that put a digital book in the palm of your hand. Now, with the flick of a finger, we can download and read Gone with the Wind or The Great Gatsby in its entirety. The headaches of having to cart around the entire collection of your favorite volumes through the ever-so-constricting lines of the airport security are now a thing of the past.
But where will the book be in the future with all of these technological advancements going on around it? Personally, I like a physical book in my hand, but I also like playing Angry Birds on my phone—not necessarily the same thing. After reading email after email and researching antiquarian titles for customers, at the end of the day, I really just want to close my eyes for a while (I wait until I’m done driving home!) and relax them.
As someone who works in my kitchen all of the time, I read through a lot of cookbooks (thank you Thomas Keller). As you know, paper and veal stock don’t react well to each other, especially when you want to reuse the cookbook again. However, I love the feeling of having little red dollops of marinara sauce on a page where there is a lasagna recipe, or green splotches over the chive oil recipe. It gives me that feeling of ‘yea, I’ve been there before’. I can savor the memory of making that recipe before which gives me the most satisfaction. It’s like the book is reading me instead of me reading it.
Try letting sauce and oils creep into the crevices of an eBook reader and watch how quickly you will have to get it repaired, or take it back to the store all together.