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An interview with, IOBA

Biblio checks in with, IOBA to learn more about their book business, collecting interests and more! To view and shop their inventory, click here.

When did you get started in bookselling?

We started back in 1993, with a booth in a collective bookshop and we were active members of the Compuserve Book Collecting Forum, before the web really existd. By 1997, we had become full-time booksellers!

What drew you to bookselling?

I have always been a reader, and a collector (in a small way) and I used to joke about this being my "retirement" - instead it led to my quitting my "real" job and doing this fulltime. For me, the appeal of bookselling is that I never stop learning: whether it is actually reading books, or researching an author or illustrator, or a subject of a group of non-fiction books, or learning more about the history of printing, and publishing, the opportunities to learn are constantly expanding.

What are your specialties as a dealer?

Our specialties are constantly expanding: we started out as specialists in modern first editions, with an emphasis on women authors, and African American writers, and science fiction, but we have added mysteries, poetry, children's books and juvenile series, travel and exploration, Latin American and Native American and ethnobotany.

What is your favorite part of being a bookseller?

Discovering a great book I didn't know existed; handling a book I never expected to have - and always learning and making connections.

Do you have an open storefront or have you in the past?

While we have been primarily online booksellers since the beginning, we have always had a storefront presence - first in a collective bookstore in Sacramento, and now with a large booth dedicated to books in a co-operative antique mall in Jackson.

What is your favorite bookshop (other than your own)?

Unfortunately, most of my favorite bookshops have closed. There are still some good bookstores out there, but the ones I went to all the time are gone!

What do you personally like to read? Collect?

One reason why we sell mysteries is because I read a lot of them- but my serious collecting focuses on just a few authors: Willa Cather, Peter Matthiesson, Ellen Glasgow, Alice Hoffman, Margaret Atwood, etc. In addition I have a growing collection of books inscribed to us. The most unique collection which I have consists of books by the young adult mystery author, Augusta Huiell Seaman, the first American to write mysteries specifically for young people, in the first half of the twentieth century. Her books were read by authors like Mildred Wirt who went on to write the orignal Nancy Drew books. Not only do I have all of her books, many of them are inscribed to family members or in dust jackets.

What's your favorite book you personally own? Would you sell it, if the price were right?

Until recently, there were only two known copies of one of Augusta Huiell Seaman's book "Americans All" (about immigrant children) - one was in the Library of Congress, the other in the NY Public Library. I now have a third copy, and this was a gift to me by someone who had seen my articles about Seaman. So no, it is not for sale at any price. I hope to find a good home for the complete collection at some point.

What one book would you buy if price were no object?

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could bring three books, what would they be?

I will cheat and say first of all a one volume edition of the complete works of Jane Austen. Then the writings of Thoreau and John Muir.