Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Wonderful World of Used

One of the best parts of working as a used book buyer at Boswell is that I get to see all weird and wonderful books that people bring in. Most of the titles reflect trends from a few years ago: hardcover thrillers based on a Bush administration-based reality, or microfictions on whatever topics were spiking at the time (salt, wood, Pluto's planetary status, etc.). That's great, and I love them.

A few times, we get lucky and see something like the British(!) paperback(!) edition of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest(!)--never mind, Larsson fans, it sold within ten minutes. You'll just have to wait for the Stateside hardcover coming in a few months.

Sometimes, we also run into the folks who are cleaning out attics--attics that have gone untouched for decades. They bring books that were printed long before the ISBN existed, and when a simple colophon like "Lippincott & Co, Phila, 1917" sufficed to establish a book's origins. What books do they bring? A beautiful, collectible copy of the Little Prince, maybe, or a slew of editions of Edward Fitzgerald's translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Each one is a little shelfworn, but still evocative of a time when books were a bit rarer, their publication more of an event, and leather binding was de rigeur.

My favorite kind of book is neither of those, however. Perhaps it's no surprise that I love to find late-70s Disney picture books, or a Fellowship of the Ring with the proper cover (not the movie still.... ugh!). Valuable? Not exactly (I encourage our local readers to check out the bargain cart on the sidewalk). But fun, and nostalgic for me.

Thinking about bringing in some books of your own to see how excited we get? You can! There's just a few things you need to know:

  • Do call ahead. We have no place to keep vast piles of used books, so we need to know what's coming. There's a used book buyer here almost every day, so go retro and telephone us at 414-332-1181 to set up an appointment. What happens when you don't set up an appointment? Dragons of fire leap out of the air ducts and burn your books to ash, rendering them worthless. Do not provoke the dragons. Call ahead.

  • Do bring books we're interested in. We are a reader's bookstore. That means the books we sell, new or used, must be in good condition, so that new people will want to read them. No tears, rips, dirt, coffee rings, dog bites, crayon scribbles, or unexplained stickiness.
  • Skip the following: mass market paperbacks (the 4x7 inch ones), bookclub editions, or anything with lots of underlining or highlighter marks. We usually won't take them. We feed them to the dragons.
  • Be aware that we only buy for store credit (not cash), and that you can expect to get one quarter of what we'll ultimately price the book for. So if we think a book will sell for $10, we'll give you $2.50 for it. You'll get the money on a handy-dandy card that you can exchange for yet more books. Thus the cycle is complete.
Have any questions on the world of used books? Ask Jason, Sharon or me (Jocelyn). Just like we do with new titles, our aim is to get great books to you. Simple!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Found in Translation, BTBA part 2

In a previous post here on The Boswellians, I shared some thoughts on works in translation as a segue into showing off our table that displays many of the titles featured on the longlist of the Best Translated Book Award. The finalists have been announced and are listed below. You can also visit BTBA 2010 Fiction Finalists: A Recap to read excerpts from each of the shortlisted titles.

The Best Translated Book Award Poetry Finalists have also been announced.

Ghosts by Cesar Aira, trans. from Spanish by Chris Andrews (Argentina)

The Twin*
by Gerbrand Bakker, trans. from Dutch by David Colmer (Netherlands)

Anonymous Celebrity
by Loyola Brandao, trans. from Portugese by Nelson Vieira (Brazil)

by Hugo Claus, trans. from Dutch by Michael Henry Heim (Belgium)

The Weather Fifteen Years Ago**
by Wolf Haas, trans. from German by Gilardi and Hansen (Austria)

The Confessions of Noa Weber
by Gail Hareven, trans. from Hebrew by Dalya Bilu (Israel)

The Discoverer
by Jan Kjaerstad, trans. from Norwegian by Barbara Haveland (Norway)

Memories of the Future***
by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, trans. from Russian by Joanne Turnbull (Russia)

by Jose Manuel Prieto, trans. from Spanish by Esther Allen (Cuba)

The Tanners
by Robert Walser, trans. from German by Susan Bernofsky (Switzerland)

If you are really keen on international works, be sure to check out Three Percent's Preview of the 2010 International Prize for Arabic Fiction to get a glimpse of some of the most important creative writing coming from the Arab world.

And, finally, if you are a bookstore and would like to help promote the Best Translated Book Awards and their finalists, there is a lovely sign/flyer that you can download for displays.

*originally $25.00, we have a limited quantity available at $9.99, along with a few other translated works including Le Clezio's The Prospector ($9.99) and Toussaint's Camera (5.99)
**the only title unavailable for purchase from us at this time
***our top seller off this list