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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

The Book Dealer and the Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, November 17, 2013

When I began my career in public libraries, one of the exciting events was the day the “book dealer” came to the library to share many of the new books for the year.


Sometimes it was just the proposed book jackets, and other times it was the actual books that would be released by specific publishers.


It was an all-day process done in an area with lots of room to spread out the books, and separate them into different subject piles.


Books were purchased based on professional reviews and hand-held evaluations by the librarians.


Needless to say, that process for book selection is nearly gone today, replaced by online reviews and graphic projections of the book; selected by either hard copy or eBook.


For the old librarian, it just isn’t the same, not being able to “feel” the book and see the illustrations, but it works and we do it.


Recently, we reshuffled the book selection process and I ended up with the only salesperson that still comes to the library in person with real books --- the children’s book jobber with nonfiction titles!


I think they knew that the old fellow would like to do this, and I was surprised to find that the process and title options hadn’t really changed in 30 years.


The subject offerings for children’s nonfiction books were nearly the same, and the books requested by children are about the same.


Aliens and UFOs are just as popular as they were in 1975, as well as exploration and books about various countries.


Automobiles, trucks, and construction equipment are available in every category from picture books to car manuals for the future mechanic.


Books about snakes seem to excite young people, including nearly every species.


The care of cats, dogs, hamsters, and every other possible domestic pet is covered by a myriad of book titles.


Holiday crafts from Thanksgiving to Easter, Christmas to the 4th of July, provide a variety of possible projects for clubs and organizations to household activities for every age.


The fascination of knights and castles, mermaids and unicorns, not to mention pirates and their ships can be “drawn” with the assistance of books for each specific subject.


And don’t let me forget Dinosaurs of every description, books about dinosaurs literally flood the marketplace and are needed to replace the worn copies on library shelves.


Yes, there are new subjects in children’s books including computer ideas and training of all descriptions.


Biographies of famous people seem to be more exciting than the mainstay books of the 1970s with more personal descriptions than before.


Some new books take on an almost comic book format to show cell phone operations, and TV technology of today.


Digital piracy, information literacy, and micro blogging are indeed new subjects when compared to 1978.


The new era of a book salesperson does bring new technology, with instant reviews available on a screen.  Budget totals are immediately available allowing for changes to meet budget projections.


That poor woman who came with her husband the book salesman, with a large typewriter in a case so she could pound out an immediate order are gone; replaced with technology that sweeps all around using the library’s wireless network.


I found it enjoyable to handle the books, feel the stiffness and smell the fragrance of the new ink of the books.  Oh well, guess I am just an old-timer.