Bright Young Booksellers | April 2019 |
Bright Young Booksellers: Eric Albritton
Our Bright Young Booksellers series continues today with Eric Albritton of Ed's Editions in Columbia, South Carolina:
How did you get started in rare books?
My father has been selling books since the mid-nineties, I started by helping him move boxes of books and scouting. After college and a short first career working in China, I came back to the family bookstore and began to take it more seriously.
What is your role at Ed's Editions?
A bit of everything: acquisitions, customer service, marketing/social media, cataloging, shipping online sales, etc. I'm lucky enough not to handle payroll, taxes and other financial paperwork. My business card says I'm the Manager.
What do you love about the book trade?
I love that books are timeless. I love the mixture of cool interesting material and people I come across. I love that it's always a work in progress.
Describe a typical day for you:
Nothing gets done until the cat is fed. I then make a cup of coffee, answer emails, find and prepare online orders. Around the time these tasks are completed, there are (hopefully) a few customers milling about the store and asking questions. I dive into cataloging recent acquisitions, social media, and exceptionally fun paperwork until it is time to feed the cat again and head home.
Favorite rare book (or ephemera) that you've handled?
We had a copy of Alice in Wonderland illustrated and signed by Salvador Dali. The illustrations had the surrealism of Dali (drooping clocks and all) set with the characters of Alice in Wonderland. I'm not an art connoisseur but those were some cool illustrations.
What do you personally collect?
That changes a bit over time. I've consistently collected Mark Twain, early pioneer and Native American narratives. Lately I've been collecting books on the Black Death and Appalachian/Southern woodworking as well. I keep telling myself woodworking is going to be my new hobby.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Traveling and visiting other bookstores. Cooking, camping, playing with my dogs. Having a beer with friends. And of course...reading.
Thoughts on the present state and/or future of the rare book trade?
There's no doubt the book trade has substantially changed over the past 20 years. In some ways it's still ironing out into what will be its new normal. I don't think we will ever have the number of open shops that we once had but rare books are still being collected. It seems the more information becomes digitized the more rare books become appreciated for being historical objects as well. Almost half of our rare book customers are under the age of 35. They may not collect what their parents collected but they are indeed collecting.
Any upcoming fairs or catalogues?
This year we've got fairs in Virginia (Richmond), Georgia (Decatur), Tennessee (Franklin), and Florida (St. Petersburg) lined up. As for catalogues, we are looking to bring those back in the next year.
[Photo credit: Liz Brooker]