Check out this interview of Bob Fleck that reveals his history as a bookseller and Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) member. He talks about the history behind Oak Knoll’s founding, his work and relations with the ABAA, various committees on which he has served, his travels and love for the social aspect of the ABAA, and much more. He also examines the challenges of bookselling and offers advice for those who are interested in starting a business just as he did.
The interview is part of an effort by ABAA member Michael Ginsberg to cover members’ personal histories as well as their involvement in the rare book trade. Click here to watch the interview.
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.
“Today the book business stands at the edge of a vast transformation, one that promises much opportunity for innovation: much trial, much error, much improvement. Long before another half-century passes, the industry as I have known it for the past fifty years will have been altered almost beyond recognition.”—Jason Epstein
This was the opening quote projected on the screen at the Professional, Scholarly, & Academic Books Basic Books Boot Camp I attended this past Thursday in Philadelphia. I found this quote to be a quite inspirational beginning to my day full of publishing education. Sponsored by the Association of American Publishers, this boot camp was intended to provide a complete overview of scholarly publishing and all its facets. It was targeted for those with less than three years experience in the publishing industry, and since I have only been working at Oak Knoll for about a year a half, the Oak Knoll team felt I was the perfect candidate for this seminar.
As I arrived in Philadelphia, I started to make a mental list of what I really wanted to take away from the conference. Since my most important job at Oak Knoll is carrying out our marketing plans, I was hoping to gain some valuable insight in to how other publishers market their books. I also wanted to learn what we could do at Oak Knoll to better relate to our customers.
With only about twenty other people in attendance, the setting was very relaxed, friendly, and open. It wasn’t long after our first speaker John Jenkins, President and Publisher of CQ Press, began his presentation that I knew it was going to be a great day. In addition to John, the other presenters Gita Manaktala (MIT Press), Betsy Litz (Princeton University Press), Elizabeth Schacht (McGraw-Hill), Matt Conmy (Springer Publishing Company), and Molly Venezia (Rutgers University Press) spoke on topics including acquisitions, production, marketing, sales, and finances. Each listed the most important details for the various parts of the business, and while I found the each presentation fundamental to understanding publishing, I was most interested in Beth’s portion as it covered marketing. She stressed that creating a solid marketing plan for each book would allow each title to reach its full potential in terms of availability and awareness. She also showed me that the best marketers are good communicators who will stick close to the customer and understand what they need. This was a great point for me to consider in my own position as Publishing and Marketing Assistant
Besides the marketing portion, my second favorite part of the day was lunch! Not only because of the scrumptious sandwiches, salads, and cookies, but more importantly because of the opportunity we were given to solve a challenge that could potentially occur working in publishing. We were broken into groups of three to five people and presented with a piece of paper that stated a problem of which we had to devise a solution. In talking to my group members over lunch, I realized that certain situations may sometimes look like “problems,” but in fact, are only excellent opportunities to use creative thinking and out-of-the ordinary concepts to overcome the predicament. At the end of the day, each group presented their solution to the speakers, who in return, gave us their own input into how they might have handled the situation.
Overall, I was very impressed with how smoothly everything flowed, and how much information was able to be presented in one day. The book camp presented by the AAP was excellent and a great opportunity for those who are just starting out in publishing. Thank you to all the speakers and all the staff who had a part in organizing this awesome day! Hopefully, I will be able to take my new knowledge and put it in effect here at Oak Knoll.
As I am still learning how we can provide better service to our customers, I pose a couple questions to all you blog followers out there. How do you hear about new books? Where do you go to find information on new books? Is there something more we can do to make you aware of new titles we are publishing?
To share your thoughts, post a comment on the blog or send me a message at email@example.com. Thanks!
This past Saturday, The Bookshop in Old New Castle hosted a mini-book fair sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the ABAA. Thirteen booksellers participated in the fair, and author Joel Silver signed copies of his new publication Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly. The day was very successful, and we were excited to see those involved enjoying the opportunity to sell and purchase books. One participating bookseller, George Krzyminski from Certain Books, had wonderful words to say about the event:
“Speaking only for myself, I did very well, in buying as well as selling – better than some all-day or all weekend events I’ve exhibited at in the recent past. I met at least 3 new customers, quoted them some other material afterwards and met several dealers with which I’d had no previous contact – all to the good. I believe others at the show had similar experiences. We also had the opportunity to purchase & have Joel Silver sign his newest book, “Dr. Rosenbach & Mr. Lilly.” And of course, we all dipped into shopping the shelves at Oak Knoll the entire time…
I repeat Penny’s compliments and thanks to Bob & Millie & Rob Fleck and their staff, to all the other Bookshop in Old New Castle dealers – Bordentown, Kelmscott, Between the Covers- for their willingness to ‘share the space’ and custom with us all – and to all the dealers and their partners and staff that showed up for the workshop & show, who fully participated and had a good, profitably-spent time!”
Thank you, George for your kind words. We are happy you had such a great experience, and we hope all the rest of the booksellers had a great time as well! We look forward to participating in other similar events in the future.
Click here to view more pictures on facebook.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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,