Monday, June 8, 2020

Sampling the Inventory -- What do you Re-read?

One of the nice things about a used bookstore is that, providing you don't only stock books that you hate, there is always something good to read. As well, since these are used and not brand new books, it generally doesn't hurt to read them again. It is almost impossible to read a new book without damaging it, but if you bang up a used book, well maybe you knock a dollar off the price and go on. 😃

Rex Stout has always been one of my authors and a few weeks ago I started rereading a number of the Nero Wolfe mysteries. Walking into his old brownstone to spend some time with Nero and Archie is like relaxing in a comfortable chair. You have been there many times and you know that you are going to enjoy the experience.

I believe that one of the best compliments you can give an author is to consider his or her books worthy of rereading from time to time. It is even more special to realize that books written more than half a century ago still hold up and are enjoyable to read. Rex Stout is one author, Robert Heinlein (for the most part), Isaac Asimov and others. 

Of course, there are books I enjoyed reading that I have no desire to revisit. While I am happy to go back through many of S.M. Stirling's books, I don't particularly care to reread his Draka series. They were good books, but the series as a whole was depressing -- something about having the Bad Guys win in the end, I think. I enjoyed the series and found it an interesting take on an alternative history idea. But it's certainly not a world I would want to live in.

The other nice thing about sampling my inventory is discovering a new author. You see plenty of different books, and if one looks interesting, well what does it hurt to shuffle it off to the reading pile. It may be drek but you may just find a new friend. And after all, one of the reasons I got into this business is that I love to read. I never need to have a shortage of new - or old - books to dive into.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Randolf Caldecott & Kate Greenaway

One of the absolute delights of book selling is the chance to see some of the gorgeous illustrations that are done for children's books. It is a real treat to open some of these books and sometimes it can be tough to let them go as they are sold.

What brought this to mind were a couple books I was recently putting online: They were published in the late 19th century and illustrated by Caldecott and Greenaway. You may see books that are listed as Caldecott or Newbery Medal winners, for example. What is easy to forget is that Randolf Caldecott was a real life children's illustrator -- and consequently there are books with his illustrations inside.

Agree or not with any specific winner of these awards, but the awards honor someone in the field who was a trailblazer or a particularly outstanding artisan in that field.

As I mentioned, there can be few things more fun than leafing through some of our old time children's books and enjoying the pictures. I am sure they make the books much better for the kids who read them.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


One of our favorite authors -- Gail Z. Martin -- is, of course, stuck at home with all the rest of us in North Carolina. On the one hand she, and her fellow writer and husband, Larry Martin, have been working at home for the past 10 years so it isn't necessarily that much different to them.

On the other hand, they can't get out to conventions and bookstores to meet us fans and promote their new (and existing) books. Gail is a fairly prolific author and is constantly coming out with new stories, many of which are in e-book format and can be found on Amazon.

On the gripping hand, Gail recently decided to start a new Facebook group, which you can find here.

This group is a virtual science fiction convention called ConTinual, and she is featuring not only her own books, but a number of other authors, booksellers, and publishers. It is a way to both keep in touch during this era of social distancing and to send new stories out into the wild.

Gail plans to continue this project even after the current unpleasantness is concluded and I strongly recommend that you check this out.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Science Fiction Conventions

Well, I never expected to be at home today. We are supposed to be in Durham, selling books at FantaSci. Sadly the Governor's restrictions on gatherings have forced the con to cancel and reschedule for next year.

While I understand why the organizers felt they had no choice, it is still a sad occasion. Reading the news I cannot help but feel that we as a country might be overreacting just a bit. We certainly have had epidemics such as this in the past and did not see the need to shut down the whole country (it's still likely that seasonal flu will cause more deaths each year than the corona virus). But, not my choice to make.

On a more positive note, this does give me the chance to add some nice books to the online inventory. We stockpiled a lot of books by the Guests of Honor, and will likely be listing a number of those online in the coming weeks.

I do try to be listing books every week, although the first quarter is the hardest -- my other job is working as a tax preparer so I keep pretty busy up until April 15th or so.

I trust everyone is following common sense precautions to get through all of this, and I hope you all will stay healthy and as productive as possible.

Our next convention is over Memorial Day in Charlotte at ConCarolinas. Let's plan to see you there!

Sunday, December 22, 2019


One of the fun things we get to do in this business is to attend science fiction conventions in our area, setting up shop in the Dealers' room, and selling our science fiction books to con-goers.

Next up on our calendar is MarsCon. This is a very nice convention held over MLK weekend every January in Williamsburg, Virginia. We've been selling books there for around 10 years or so, and really enjoy this con.

We have a whole selection of books that we offer at cons that are not a part of what we sell online, although there is naturally some overlap. Since these are science fiction conventions, our focus is science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, and young adult. Once the con is over, we try to list some of the Guest of Honor's books, many of which we are able to have the author sign at the convention.

MarsCon this year will feature two literary Guests of Honor, Scott Lynch and David Weber, as well as Leslye Penelope, the young adult GoH.

This will be our first chance to meet Scott Lynch and Leslye Penelope. We look forward to that opportunity.

David Weber lives in South Carolina. We have had the pleasure of meeting him a number of times at various conventions, along with The Royal Manticoran Navy, his fan organization and a presence at many cons. 

We've been busy preparing for this convention and look forward to being there and visiting with many of our customers and acquaintances. As a tax preparer, I am also getting ready for the upcoming tax season where I will have virtually no life outside of taxes. An enjoyable time, nonetheless.

Friday, September 18, 2009

E-Mail Scams and Orders

As an internet bookseller, I receive book orders from a variety of sources. There are listing sites that aggregate large numbers of booksellers into a single database, plus I have a web site of my own -- Orielis' Books. Every so often I get orders directly over the phone or through snail mail.

Then there are the 'orders' that come to me directly via e-mail. These can be interesting .... they can also be potentially dangerous (if they're scams, then the goal is to separate me from my money).

I got an e-mail a few days ago from someone purporting to be from Seoul, South Korea. It was written in a typical fractured English of someone for whom English is a second language. It started this way:

I am Dana, I am mailing in request to order some of your products for Supply to the Shipping Address Below :

Well, this is a red flag when the person writes a bookstore and doesn't mention books. So I ran a couple of Google searches. The company name implied by his e-mail address turned up nothing (another red flag), but the shipping address had two interesting hits. It turns out that an Australian publisher Allen & Unwin has a subagent located at that exact address! That sounded promising, right? They publish children's books, I sell used children's books.

Then I looked at the second Google hit for that address and all I could do was laugh. Have you ever heard of the Back Yard Chickens Forum? I sure hadn't, but apparently it is the in place for those folks who raise chickens in their back yard. At any rate, one of the posters there (Chicknwhisperer) had received the same e-mail, word for word identical with mine. Needless to say, that clinched it for being some sort of scam and I moved on. Unless, of course, this person was looking for a copy of Raising Chickens for Dummies .....

The jury is still out on the second e-mail I got this week. More later on that.


Monday, September 14, 2009

New Beginnings

This has been a season for trying out some new things with my book store, and this is something I have thought about doing for a while -- so why not now?

I started selling books on the internet as Orielis' Books in August, 2002 and have been working (with a lot of help from my two sisters) on building the business for the past seven years. I sell all sorts of used books with specialties in Mysteries, Science Fiction & Fantasy, and Children's books, but carry titles in a number of different areas.

It is a very personalized operation for me and my sisters -- seeking out books to sell, pricing them, entering the books into inventory, taking orders over the internet, and finally packaging and shipping the books. For me, it is very satisfying to know that I have complete control over the business. Of course, when things don't go right there aren't too many people to blame either.

One important consequence of running a book store out of one's house: The place is absolutely overrun with books. Stacks of them surround me as I work (and we won't even mention the basement). It can be a bit overwhelming at times, but at least there is never any lack of things to work on. ;=)

And so I am launched on my maiden voyage into the blogosphere. Hopefully, I will be able to find topics that are interesting and somewhat related to books and bookselling.