The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 44, November 1, 2015, Article 17


Reports of the death of bookstores were premature. Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on their recent resurgence. Great news - thanks! -Editor

Isn’t one of your greatest pleasures in life perusing bookshops? It is mine. I look back on the many bookshops I have visited in my last 65 years. What fond memories spring into mind. Surprise! These pleasures may continue well into the future. Bookshops are not dying out.

That was not the prediction six years ago. E=books were supposed to eliminate print books and the institutions which sold them. Like television was predicted to kill radio. And FM was cited to kill AM. But not all predictions come true. Thank goodness.

The New York Times reported recently ”The digital apocalypse never arrived.” The American Booksellers Association (ABA) revealed that in 2010 there were 1,410 bookstores. Today there are 2,227. That’s encouraging despite Borders closing most of their outlets from a peak of 659 stores. Retail is a tough business.

Those 2,227 book stores are ABA members, some selling both new and second hand books, although used book dealer have their own society, the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) with another 450 members, not all of whom have stores.. I like to browse both new and second hand book stores.

In every city I have lived in (10 in 65 years) I searched for the book stores and fondly remember those in Washington DC, St. Louis and Kansas City. Also those in other cities in travels and visits. In Kansas City I had a boyhood friend, Terry Cassidy, who was a coin collector. His father was a part time book dealer in economics. He bought the stock of the city’s largest bookstore, Cramer’s, that went out of business. They held numerous sales in an attempt to empty the store, then moved the remainders to a warehouse. Terry got all the coin books ahead of me.

In New Haven at a coin convention John J. Ford gathered two friends and invited me to come along. We traveled by taxi to the home of W.C. Sanders an early specialist in numismatic books. His basement was filled with shelves and shelves, all bearing a wide variety of numismatic literature. We all came away with an armload of books after the most pleasant evening browsing.

Also near New Haven was the famous Book Barn, actually several buildings on what was once a farm. Thousands of books, if not in the millions. All fairly well organized. I always assumed these came from Yale professors who recycled their libraries. But I learned not to go there in the dead of winter, the barn was not heated, Nor in the heat of summer.

Oh I could go on about favorite bookshops old and new. Recently I let the dealers come to me in local book fairs. Forty to fifty dealers in a local high school gym provided a delightful morning’s chore. I stopped attending the ABAA fairs in New York City when I worked there. They could not bring the quantity of books I wanted to search for numismatic gems.

It’s good to learn that bookstores are coming back. More dealers in the business. News Flash: Fellow Nutmeger (that’s a resident of Connecticut for those of you in Rio Linda) Bryce Brown is going full ahead in his numismatic book business, stepping up from the casual sales he has held in the past. He visited me recently and I gave him a couple boxes of books. A library is like a bush, you have to prune it occasionally.

This week Good Wife said the most delightful words to this ol’ book lover: “Let’s go the Barnes & Noble, I want to get a gift card for grandson’s birthday.” We did, and I found a gem. I didn’t order it when it was first announced, but couldn’t resist when I saw it. I bought Dave Bowers Red Book on Civil War Cents. I don’t collect these but the book is a great read with terrific color illustrations. I had to have it.

Sometimes you have to see it to buy it. Keep the stores open book dealers. Don’t worry about e-books. A lot of us still want the original to read, to feel the paper, to turn the pages, to write in the margins (and sometimes have the author sign it).

I love a good bookstore. Always have, always will. Even if it doesn't have numismatic titles (one can always hope). The serendipity factor is huge - one never really knows what might be found, whether the store specializes in new or used books. So poke around. You just might find a gem you never knew you wanted. -Editor

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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