Bright Young Things: Ashley Loga

Our series profiling the next generation of antiquarian booksellers continues today with our youngest entry yet: twenty-two year old Ashley Loga of Lorne Bair Rare Books in Winchester, Virginia:

NP: What is your role at Lorne Bair Rare Books?

AL: Basically Lorne is Obi-Wan Kenobi and I'm his padawan.  I do a little bit of everything, from cataloging books to processing orders.  Lorne is having fun teaching me everything he knows.  Considering I just entered into this business a few months ago, I still have much to learn but I'm loving every minute of it. 

NP: How did you get started in rare books?

AL: All throughout high school, the only thing I ever wanted to do was own a bookstore.  After graduating from college this past spring, I attended the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, hoping to learn something about running an open shop.  I went to the seminar knowing almost nothing about the antiquarian book trade nor what an antiquarian book truly was.  At the seminar, my world was flipped upside down.  Everything about the antiquarian book trade sounded amazing and exciting to me.  I like to imagine one of those comic strip moments with a little light bulb clicking on above my head.  My dreams of owning a used bookstore and café were quickly replaced by the antiquarian book trade.  After being wrapped up in a whirlwind of an auction for a dinner with the faculty of the seminar, an auction I wasn't even planning on bidding in, Lorne offered me a job.  I jumped at the chance, moving from Jackson, Mississippi to Winchester, Virginia without a second thought.

NP: Favorite book you've handled?

AL: The most interesting book I have ever handled is a hand written journal from the early 1900's. It was written by a young man traveling from Dayton, OH to San Francisco.  Not only is the writing enjoyable but he also included hand drawn maps, a sketch of a train's side door sleeper and detailed budget and expense lists.  It is fascinating for me to be able to connect to someone through reading their own personal thoughts and experiences.  To me, the most interesting books are the ones with ownership history, ones which allow you to glean something about the previous owners.  Being able to share a connection with someone through a book is my favorite thing about this trade.

NP: What do you love about the book trade?

AL: I love the sense of community and partnership within the trade.  I find it charming and welcoming.  Being a veracious learner, I also love how I am always learning something new about each book and its contents through research and cataloging. 

NP: What do you personally collect?

AL: Personally, I have a slight fetish for antique trunks and boxes but in regards to my book collection there is no overall theme or genre linking them all.  I usually just pick up books that interest me or nice copies of my favorite books. 

NP: Do you want to open your own shop someday? (And if so, what would you like to specialize in?)

AL: For now, I'm just learning everything I can about the trade. I haven't given much thought to owning my own shop someday but I do know I will be in the book trade for life.  It is definitely the career for me.  As for specialization, I'm currently learning everything I can about prison and prostitution literature. 

NP: I believe you are the youngest bookseller we've interviewed to date.  Any thoughts to share on the future of the book trade from your vantage point?

AL: Being only 22, I am perhaps one of the youngest ones currently in the trade.  Personally, I am tired of this defeatist attitude.  I frequently come across people bemoaning the death of the business on the list-serves.  This frustrates me greatly.   Having a defeatist attitude only hinders the business and does not help it grow at all.  Everyone says that people my age do not collect but this is untrue.  I know quite a few people under the age of 30 who collect books and take pride in their collections.  I think this view partially comes from a disconnect with the older age group and the younger age group.  And partially from the fact that people my age do not have the funds to buy books on the higher end of prices.  Book fair advertisements need to not only target the older crowd through newspaper advertisements but also find new ways to target people in their 20s and 30s.  The customers' desires are merely shifting: the business is not dying.