Christopher P. Stephens, Bookman
Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.
Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world. He has operated appealing bookstores in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, Hastings on Hudson, NY and several in NYC, NY. He is a wholesale dealer to other bookstores all over the world.
Chris loves books.
Stephens now maintains a lively internet operation out of his new home in Scranton, PA.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Grinding wasn't the best method of getting rid of books. Selling was. Once the publisher decided to stop carrying a title in-print, the publisher offered the remaining quantity, the "remainders", for sale. Prospective buyers bid for them. Or didn't.
This was the decade of transition from small, often family-held publishing companies to large comglomerate-held publishing companies. The conglomerates got rid of some great titles. For tax reasons.
Christopher Stephens had just completed his legendary Sixties Catalogue, containing books by substantial and promising authors who began their careers in the 1960s. (This fascinating catalogue will be the subject of a future posting)
Many of Chris' favorite authors were being remaindered. They were going out of print. Good books gone. This distressed Chris. He started bidding on books by authors in his Sixties Catalogue, authors he believed in. Chris started his own publishing company, Ultramarine. When he bought the remainders, he put them back in print.
The books were delivered on skids to our apartment in Washington Heights. Chris built wider book shelves to accomodate boxes. We stored them and filled orders as they came in. At first it was like we had a little warehouse in our big apartment. Very shortly it was like we had a little living space in our big warehouse.
Toward the end of the decade, companies like Barnes & Noble did so well buying remainders and selling them in their stores that the remainder auction took off. Ultramarine could no longer afford to buy favorite authors to keep in print. We went in other directions.
That publishing transistion period was very interesting. The phenomenon of very cheap remainders was one of the most interesting aspects of that time.