The Literary Olympian

There is a general sense in the minds of many people about the type of person that is an avid reader or book collector.  The stereotype of a quiet, socially awkward, glasses-wearing shut-in is perpetuated by movies, television shows, and even our beloved books.  In fact, just examine the connotations that the word “bookish” evokes.

I would absolutely describe myself as bookish.  I read a lot, I work with books, my closet is full of overflowing bookshelves instead of clothes, and I’m not exactly the paragon of physical fitness, to put it mildly.  Therefore, when I start talking excitedly about sports and athletes, it can be surprising to people who view me through the stereotypical lens of a bookish nerd.  After all, don’t book nerds all hate their natural school-yard enemies, the dreaded jock?  Don’t book nerds disdain nonintellectual pursuits like sweating and competing?  Why would someone who enjoys classic literature or science fiction fandom be interested in SPORTS, of all things?

Well, all I can say is that people are not one dimensional and do not fit into only one category.  Personally, I like to combine my hobbies.  The relevant example here is my love of hockey and my love of books, which translates into a growing collection of books about hockey.  And, to smoothly segue to the main point of this post, books about Olympic hockey.  The Olympics are coming to a close soon, and it has been a fun ride.  The US women’s team plays Canada tonight for the gold medal game, while the men’s team was sadly eliminated by Czechia.  Go Team USA!

Every Olympics, Winter and Summer, sees a new flurry of books written about it.  Biographies, tell-all scandals, histories of the games, behind-the-scenes reporting… a veritable smorgasbord of feasts for the sports book collector to satiate their appetite with.  But this website is devoted to the older fare, the finely aged wines of this particular niche genre, and boy do we have a lovely offering for people like myself who drool over Olympic books.

In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, the Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles.  A book by Hugh Harlan called “History of the Olympic Games Ancient and Modern” was printed up for these, the Xth modern Olympic games.  It wasn’t anything special, really, mostly just a souvenir book to read in the stands while waiting for the races to start.  But one intrepid spectator sought out 15 athletes of the games and got signatures from them.  These athletes were competing in various sports like field hockey, shooting, and boxing, and from all sorts of countries, including India, Japan, France, and Mexico.  This is a rare collectible item for a book collector who is also a sports enthusiast and it is newly listed on the website under our Sports category.  May the best collector win!

All the French books!

2017 is ending soon, and for me, at least, it has been the year of researching and listing books in French on our website.  We bought a massive collection of medical and other collectible books from Dr. Michel Philippart.  His collection is an incredible mix of antiquarian medical and philosophy books, and mid-20th century novels in French.  I’ve really enjoyed listing it this past year, and I’ll get to continue for just a little bit into the upcoming year, too.  I’ve even started trying to learn a little French, partially so I can better deal with listing books like this!

Getting Started

Let me tell you… getting started selling stuff on your own website is a lot more complicated than the pitch-men make it out to be.

The concept of Easy Street Rare Books came from my recent attendance at CABS, the yearly Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar this last July.  Some of the other booksellers there ran their websites through Bibliopolis and had nothing but good things to say about them as a web developer and hosting company specialized in the book trade.  The functionality of our website is all them and I think they did a good job.

There are a lot of obstacles to overcome, though.  For example, we use an inventory management system called Monsoon to catalogue our books and we didn’t want to switch to the tools that Bibliopolis provides, since that would require re-indexing over half .  Monsoon is for general inventory, not just books, so there are is a lot of extraneous information in their files.  It took a bit to figure out how to configure our uploads to the website so they didn’t come out looking like a long stream of nonesense.

Another issue was working on a gateway between our bank and the website to be able to accept credit cards, which necessitated adding another company into the mix in Authorize.net to securely transfer the funds when people (hopefully!!!) start buying books.  I am not at all savvy in the worlds of either technology or banking and trying to figure out everything I had to do to make this happen about made my head spin.

Finally, promoting the website to actually get people in here buying stuff is going to be my hardest challenge, I think.  I’m getting the managers of our four store locations to promote us on their Facebook pages, but our brick-and-mortar stores are all discount and modern books, so I’m worried there won’t be enough crossover interest in the antiquarian market.  I’ve also made an Istagram page and a Twitter account… but no followers yet.  Also, we’ll see how this blog does!

Wish me luck!