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.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

James Welch and Riding the Earthboy 40

jacket photo by Lee Nye

The first edition of Riding the Earthboy 40 by James Welch is scarce. Once it wasn’t though. In the early 1970s Chris Stephens and Frank Scioscia knew where there were about 1500 copies.
Welch’s success as a poet and novelist comes in spite of some bad breaks in the book business. Earthboy was his first book publication. The World Publishing Company went out of business shortly after his book came out, so the it wasn’t well distributed. World remaindered Earthboy. Ancorp took them on.
Ancorp was a major distributor in the city. They had hundreds of thousands of books. Unfortunately Ancorp also went under. During their last days in business they offered more and more dramatic discounts off their stock. At first it was 70% off list, then 80% off, then 90% off, and finally all hard covers were 50 cents each.
Scioscia and Stephens had been frequenting the sale. riverrun didn’t exist yet, but the men were stocking up anyway. They couldn’t help themselves. There were a couple of shrink-wrapped skids of Riding the Earthboy 40 at Ancorp. Scioscia & Stephens asked about a special price for all the copies. Ancorp management said no, 50 cents was their bottom price. The men could take as many as they wanted at 50 cents.
Well, how many is that? It was a promising book. In the end Chris only bought 20 copies and Frank 60. Probably the rest were ground up.
James Welch went on writing and publishing and getting reprinted:
Poetry - Riding the Earthboy 40
Novels - Winter in the Blood
The Death of Jim Loney
Fools Crow
The Indian Lawyer
The Heartsong of Charging Elk
Nonfiction- James Welch
Killing Custer: The battle of Little Bighorn and the Fate of the Plains Indian
James Welch 1940 - 2003

interview by Cindy Heidemann

an interesting discussion of James Welch's novels and poetry as well as commentary on other writers who are American Indians

1999 interview by Owen Perkins

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