Welcome back to our Bookseller Spotlight feature! Biblio loves to support independent booksellers…it’s what we are all about!
Dan Weaver from The Book Hound was kind enough to give Biblio.com an interview and let us know more about their beautiful Amsterdam, New York bookstore.
What makes your bookshop special?
The Book Hound is the only bookstore in the county. In fact, it is the only used bookstore along the New York State Thruway (I-90) between Schenectady and Syracuse, a distance of about 135 miles. It is also special in that it is only one of a few stores in upstate New York that specializes in theological works, although we carry books in other categories as well.
Do you specialize in any genres?
I specialize in New York State books, scholarly books in all fields, children’s books and theological books.
How do you view your role as an independent bookseller?
An independent bookseller is a business person, but he or she is more than that. We are also preservers and transmitters of culture and promoters of literacy.
How did you get started selling books?
After getting my master’s degree in English, I couldn’t afford to go on for my PhD. I also did not want to teach, so I began looking around for something else to do. I went to visit my mother in Reston, Virginia, and she took me to a used bookstore. I may have been in a used bookstore prior to that, although I can’t really remember. When I visited the store in Reston, I said to myself, “I can do this.” I began my store in my house in 1993.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
I find it rewarding to work at a job that I truly like. I’ve worked at various jobs in the past, and I can’t say I really liked any of them. Another rewarding aspect of the job is locating books that people have been searching for, for many years. It is also rewarding to meet young people who love books.
What is most challenging?
The biggest challenge in running a bookstore in a declining upstate New York city is making a living. It’s not hard to turn a profit. I’ve done that ever since I went into the business. But there are days when you wonder if the small return is worth it—if you wouldn’t be better off doing something else.
What is your clientele like?
My clientele is a mixture of young and old, centric and eccentric, male and female, conservative and liberal, but they are all share a curiosity about our world, interest in serious issues and above average intellects.
Have you had any celebrities visit your store?
No, however, through online sales, I have sold books to Rick Warren, author of the popular book, The Purpose Driven Church. Ward Churchill, the college professor who made national headlines with his controversial remarks on 9/11 has been a repeat online customer. I was also contacted by the late Senator Kennedy’s office once about a leather bound set of speeches that I had in stock, but I was never able to finalize the sale.
What was the most interesting book acquired/sold in your shop?
That’s difficult to say, but I once purchased a hand written journal, kept by an Erie Canal shopkeeper. It was about 150 years old and gave a lot of insight into the everyday life of the canal. New York State bought it from me, which made me happy because it will be taken care of and made available to historians and scholars. Currently, I have an issue of The Observator, printed on two sides of a sheet of paper and published in 1658. What is interesting about it is the publisher was a woman, Joanna Brome, which was highly unusual at the time. After her husband died, she kept his business going until her son was old enough to take it over.
What do you think of e-books?
I find that e-books are useful when I need to do a word search in a book. However, for reading purposes, nothing beats a traditional book for its ease on my eyes. Furthermore, I enjoy books as art objects. Their illustrations, bindings and dust jacket art cannot ever be properly reproduced in an e-book. I am also concerned about the idea that e-books are being promoted as “green.” The books might be, but the readers are not. It will only be a short time before we will be discussing the environmental issues rising out of the junking of outdated Kindles and Nooks.
Do you have a piece of book repair/preservation advice?
Books and water do not mix. Do not store your books in cellars. If the humidity is high in your library, install a dehumidifier.
Do you have any trade tips?
While you don’t have to be outgoing, when you run a brick and mortar shop, you should at least say hello when a customer comes in. I have been in too many shops where the owner is off-putting. I also believe strongly in running a dealer friendly shop. I not only give a discount, I try to network with other dealers in the area. It not only has improved my business, but I have also made some real good friends.
Do you attend any book shows?
No. Books are too heavy to carry too many times, and I am lazy by nature.
Do you have a bookstore cat, or other mascot?
I do not believe in having a bookstore cat as some people have allergies to cats, and I do not want to keep them from my store. The name of my store is The Book Hound. My daughter used to own a beagle named Ethel, named after Ethel Mertz in I Love Lucy. The beagle inspired my daughter to name our store.
Any upcoming in-store/online events/sales/etc?
The Book Hound is the sponsor of Upstream, a Mohawk Valley cultural and counter-cultural journal. Our first issue will go to press soon, and in September the store will hold a reception to celebrate the first issue. We participate regularly in downtown events, such as the Spring Fling and Winter Mixer.
Daniel T. Weaver / The Book Hound
16 East Main St.
Amsterdam , New York 12010 United States
Phone number: (518) 842-7504
Saturday: 11-3, or by appointment