About Booksellers Profiles

Bookseller Spotlight: 20th Century Books

An interview with Biblio.com bookseller, 20th Century Books in Madison, Wisconsin.

Biblio loves to support independent booksellers…it’s what we are all about!   We are starting a new feature on our blog, Bibliology, where we will be regularly featuring booksellers with open storefronts who list their inventories on Biblio.com.  This post is our first, featuring an interview with Hank Luttrell of 20th Century Books.

20th Century Books is a popular culture bookstore that specializes in new, used, and rare science fiction, fantasy, comics, mysteries and all sorts of related topics.

It has made its home in Madison, Wisconsin since being formed in 1979 by Hank Luttrell.   These days, most of their book sales are done through Biblio and other mail order marketplaces, but they do welcome customers to browse their stacks when in downtown Madison.

How did you get started selling books?
I bought and sold comic books with friends on my school bus when I was in grade school. I started selling books and comics mail order and at events in the late sixties, and opened my first store in 1979.

Do you specialize in any genres?
Mostly science fiction, mystery and comics. I’m a popular culture specialist.

Do you have a piece of book repair/preservation advice?
First, do no harm. Some of the messes people make, damage done, by booksellers especially, in the name of book repair drive me nuts.

Have you had any celebrities visit your store?
Sure. Lots. Mostly I don’t think I should gossip about them. But I made an exception for Shel Silverstein, after he passed away. Here is my piece:

(Editor Note:  There are rumors of a new Shel Silverstein collection to be released in September!)

Finally, what do you think of E-books?
I’m fine with E-books. Anything which facilitates reading is great. How about the issue of physical books as a useful part of modern society? It is common today to suggest books are a bit old fashioned. Has electronic information storage and retrieval made books obsolete? I think a well indexed, signature-sewn hardcover book is the peak of human information management technology, cutting edge. In terms of the affect of the transition from paper to E-books on publishing and book selling, I think the important thing to remember is that physical books are becoming less convenience products and more art objects, and that this trend will cause a shift to a higher price point.

If you are in Madison, Wisconsin, be sure to stop by and visit:

20th Century Books
1421 South Park
Suite 200
Madison, WI 53715

(608) 441-1957

Store Website: www.southparkbooks.com

Store Hours:
Monday-Saturday: 10am – 5:30pm
Sunday: Noon – 5:30pm


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