My wife and I own one of New England's oldest bookstores, Whitlock Farm Booksellers, or the Book Barns, in Bethany. The shop has been operating out of two barns in a rural area since 1949. Of course, neither my wife nor I had any business buying a bookstore. But we both love books and we love to read. We assumed we could learn to buy and sell them.
Title to the shop passed to us in March 2005. We were smart enough to keep the staff working there at the time of purchase. Those folks have remained for the past five years. We've added a person or two along the way, principally to accomplish selling books on line.
Whitlock's does not sell new books. I tried to experiment with that a while ago, and there was a mini-rebellion of sorts among the staff. One the things owning this business has taught is that you cannot take people where they do not want to go. A good manager leads by following.
The used and rare book business is really all about finding books. So although this blog isn't really about the book business, I thought I would post our recent on-line bulletin to regular customers to give you a feel for the place. My hope is that you will read this, get intrigued, and then decide to send folks to us who are selling libraries and collections. We purchase from estates.
If you want to make a sale or inquiry, the number of the shop is 203.393.1240. The practice of law keeps me from darkening the door very often, but there are good people there almost every day. Here is a link to a website we about the Whitlock's. Happy reading and collecting.
It's a little chilly today in Bethany, but here at the Book Barn, we're luxuriating in some interesting new arrivals! We always get offered more libraries and collections in this season, and they've started to roll in over the past many weeks. A few exceptional recent groups include:
--The collection of Ruth Ann Greenhill, a locally renowned folk and decorative artist and craftperson whose work included a 1980s commission to design Christmas tree ornaments for the White House. Mrs. Greenhill was also a past president of the Historical Society of Early American Decoration. Her immense working library of related books and ephemera, which we bought in its entirety, is especially strong in historic decoration, American folk art, naive painting, and decorative arts, and Russian icons and paintings, with many uncommon titles. Center shelf and new arrivals shelves, Lower Barn.
--Several hundred books from the non-circulating Calhoun College library at Yale, including a large number of older academic books. Both barns.
--Many new postcards, including some early 20th century cards from Western states (especially Utah and Nebraska) as well as less expensive, newer art and foreign travel cards. UPDATE: just today, we bought a marvelous collection of roughly 150-200 postcards kept by one young boy, ca. 1907-1915. They're mostly in very nice condition and strongest in chromolithograph holiday cards, including Christmas, Easter, New Years, and even a few wonderful Halloween cards. They should all be out by the weekend. Lower Barn.
We also organized and, in some cases, reduced the prices of our Connecticut history stock and have an unusually good supply of CT, Yale, and local town history books. Lower Barn.
There are several appointments awaiting us in the coming week, too, so stay tuned for those upcoming buys!
We'll look forward to seeing you soon -- and if your summer plans including clearing out some space, don't forget that we're always buying good books and will happily make house calls to look at larger collections of books, ephemera, and records, particularly in our areas of focus: scholarly books, Connecticut/Yale material, and anything old and unusual.