Monday, May 12, 2014

T-minus 1 day

Its always a hectic time getting ready for a big trip. The days seem to go faster and the time shrinks. There are always last-minute things that come up that complicate the process as well. For instance, I took my van into the shop to have a tuneup and checkup before the big road trip. I found that I have a lot of work that needs to be done to make this van roadworthy. New brakes, new wheel bearings, new idler arms, and a couple of other smaller items. Total bill $1,100.00. That hurts the pocketbook, but it's important to have these things taken care of before the trip rather than to have them surface during the trip.

I also got a call from an antiques dealer to go look at an estate with a bunch of books in Richmond (about an hour round trip) today. So that blocked out another two hours from my schedule that was unplanned. I didn't buy a whole lot of good books there, but got a few things that I can use.

While I am gone I'm going to have my daughters Tessa and Lindsay take care of processing Internet orders and mailing the books out. They have both done this before for me when I have been gone, but usually it is only two or three days. This time it will be about nine or ten days.

I am really excited to get out on the road and start looking for books. I'm planning extra expense for gas, as I see that prices have crept up again to over $3.50 a gallon here in the Cache Valley, and will no doubt be at that level or higher in many of the places that I fill on this trip. My Chevy Astro van and trailer that I pull do not create make a good gas mileage combo. When I start loading down the trailer with boxes of books, and especially if I'm driving into the wind, my mileage can go down to 10-12 miles a gallon. It probably gets about 15-16 miles per gallon maximum under favorable conditions. So I figure I'll burn about 225-250 gallons of gas on this trip, which will equate to over $800.00 in gas expense. Add motel and food expenses and I'll be at $1,200.00 in expenses. That's why it is important to purchase a lot of good inventory on these trips. I'm confident that this trip will follow the pattern of other trips and that I will be able to do this.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Getting ready for the next big buying trip

I will be leaving on Wednesday May 14th for a major buying trip to the Midwest states of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Iowa. I will be bringing along my better half, my wife Valeta on this trip. We are going to visit our daughter Amy and her husband Mike in Urbana, Illinois and attend Mike's graduation from the University of Illinois. He is getting his degree in graphic design. Congratulations to both of them for hanging in there and getting this degree.

On these lengthy trips I take my Chevy Astro van and my 8-foot Haulmark trailer and a bunch of empty boxes. I am notorious among my wife and children for always combining business with any travel trip we take. This trip will be no different. I am excited to do some book hunting in these areas. I have some good leads already to follow up on along the route. On these trips I do similar strategies and techniques as they do on the show "American Pickers". I try to identify people who have good books and then make appointments to go see the books. I find that retired antiques dealers are often a very good source of quality books for my inventory. They are also often a good source of referrals. Another good source of information is to contact historical societies, libraries, museums, and the historians affiliated with these institutions. Some states have lists of their official county historians with contact information. Often one referral leads to another and I end up looking at a nice library of books. Some of my most significant purchases on these buying trips have occurred when I meet someone and they refer me to a neighbor or friend, collector or dealer who has an accumulation of books. The thrill of the hunt is definitely one of the most exciting aspects of this business.

The other enjoyable aspect of these buying trips is that I truly love this great country of America and I enjoy travelling to new places and meeting new people. There are so many good and upright people in this country. I have traveled in and purchased books in nearly all of the states except portions of the deep South and Atlantic states. I've been to New England, Ontario Canada, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, the Northwest, the Southwest, all of the Western states except the Dakotas, and nearly all of the Midwestern states. I've looked at books in barns, attics, basements, porches, root cellars, storage units, and warehouses. I prefer to look at books in living rooms, dens, and offices, but that's not always in my control.

I've thought about having a separate page for this blog labeled "My best finds". I think that would interest readers and it would be a good opportunity to record and recount some of my most memorable finds in my many years of book sleuthing.

May as well start somewhere

So here is my first blog post since updating my web page. My son-in-law, Mike Wernert, gave the old a facelift and brought it into the 21st-century. I've been wanting to do a blog for quite some time now, and this is a good opportunity to start. Booksellers are not famous for being on the leading edge of technology, but I'm willing to expand my horizons. I may even make a Facebook page for Orrin Schwab Books and try out this social media hoorah. Its not that I'm anti-technology, it just seems like one more thing to add to my busy schedule and routine is one thing too many. But again, I do want to get this blog going, as it can be a good record of my business travels and adventures.

I've been in business full-time since 1991. Hard to believe that its been 23 years already. I started out as an eager and energetic college student dabbling in books. Now I find myself an eager and less energetic 48-year old man who still loves the book business and the opportunities it has afforded me over the years. I do regret not keeping a better record of events and experiences, because I've often said there are enough of these to write a book someday. I still may do that.

I've met such a wide variety of people over the years in this business . From the famous (Jay Leno) to the eccentric (the quirky great-grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs). I've purchased books from many hundreds of people over the years, and been in hundreds of homes across the United States. Some of the more memorable people I've purchased books from are the mother of the creator of Barney the Purple Dinasaur in Texas, a member of a European royal family living in St. George, Utah, and purple-heart decorated WWII veteran Chase Nielsen from Brigham City, Utah, a member of the famed Doolittle Raiders.

It would take hours and hours and pages and pages to recount all of the memorable experiences I've had as a bookseller, so I'll close this entry and maybe sprinkle in experiences in upcoming posts.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Welcome to the new Orrin Schwab Books Blog! Check often for updates on new inventory, book buying travels and adventures, and Schwab shenanigans.