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.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
In the rose-filled June of 1993 Frank Scioscia enjoyed life. He argued politics, discussed new authors, played bocce with friends, and read Daniel Deronda aloud with his wife, Mary.
Scioscia was sparklingly engaged at riverrun. Anyone who saw him there could plainly see he would never leave riverrun as long as he had breath left to draw.
But that’s just it. He didn’t. On July 10, 1993 Frank Scioscia died.
Everyone found it hard to believe because he was so packed with vitality. When I told a customer acquaintance 2 weeks later, he argued with me.
“No,no. He couldn’t have. I just saw him Tuesday, I think it was Tuesday. He was playing bocce down by the railroad tracks.”
It was a lead, he thought. I was mistaken and could start my search at the railroad tracks. Don’t worry. He’d turn up.
Frank’s death pained many. One of the most moving reactions came to me from a stranger’s disembodied voice.
I’d gone down to riverrun and left a short note on the front door. I also put a message on the store answering machine. “riverrun bookstore is temporarily closed. The owner, Frank Scioscia, died on July 10 of a heart attack. The family will reopen and operate the store sometime soon.”
Later I listened to messages. One was a long silence followed by a shocked whisper not meant for me.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Today was Andrea's second day of work at riverrun. Her grandfather gave her the reins.
On the first day she learned about packing orders. The packer is aiming for neat, secure packages - the kind I never quite mastered. The packer has to watch out too. Watch to be sure the books ordered go to the actual person who ordered them rather than someone else who ordered something different. Watch to be sure you don't slice yourself up with the very sharp cardboard cutter. Watch to be sure the packages are entered in the log.
Andrea did all that beautifully on the first day.
On the second day Andrea learned how to do a box list. This means you squeeze through narrow passageways and reach way up over your head for heavy boxes of books. You carry them elsewhere, open them up, and check the contents against a list of what is supposed to be the contents. You resolve discrepancies.
Andrea did that all beautifully on the second day.
The thing is though, that when you're given the reins, there are more than 2 days worth of lessons that you should know. She hadn't been shown the map of the store, so she couldn't help customers locate books. She knew there was a riverrun website, but not the address, so she couldn't satisfy an impatient telephone inquirey. (riverrunbookshop.com) She hadn't been shown how to work the cash register, so customers had to supply exact change, which she laid out neatly in front of the register.
Why did a 16 year old with 2 days' experience have the reins anyway?
Because Chris got an irresistable call from a house with a library available that day only. It was a library entirely in Hungarian and Chris does not actually read Hungarian.
"Andrea, there's a library that sounds promising. Do you mind holding down the fort for a couple of hours?" She didn't. Not even when it turned out to be for the whole day. I came down to help her close.
"So. Your grandfather didn't make it back," I said to her.
She laughed. "No. And he sounded ecstatic when he told me he was delayed."
Indeed that part of the book business - the part of going into houses and buying books - is his favorite. It the ecstatic part.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Peter Howard is shown here with his famous book mobile. In the 1970s Howard drove this volkswagen bus, stopping in bookstores at crossroads and out of the way corners as well as metropolitan centers all over the continent.