Saturday, May 2, 2009

Getting all of those pamphlets in order.

After a nice bout of the flu and a couple weeks away for Pesach with the family I am back to the business of selling books.

Pamphlets make up a large part of my stock. I'm not sure exactly how many items I have in that category, but I imagine that the total exceeds four thousand. My system of organizing these items has evolved over time. Initially these items were mixed in with the books, but that didn't work. They often just disappeared on the shelves between larger items. I started by keeping the new items in big plastic tubs and slowly removed the old items from the shelves as I found them. I started penciling in the item numbers on the front covers and organized them under item number. This worked OK at first, but the magnitude of the project overwhelmed the sophistication of my approach. I started to place the items in comic books bags with cardboard backing (A trick I picked up from Eric Kline.). This gave the items a uniformity of size which helped. At first I was marking the backing board with the item numbers in pencil, but as this was often hard to read in bad light I moved to marking the boards in pen. Still, I was spending an enormous amount of time searching for items that were ordered. I had never been able to retrospectively apply the improvements of my system to the whole of my stock. That catch-up and clean-up was the big project this past week. It took most of three days, but has already rewarded me with rapid location of all of the pamphlets that have been ordered since then.
All this is a bit of a dull tale, but in bookselling projects like these can feel very satisfying. A bit like trying on new clothes after losing weight.

Further excitement awaits. I'm back at my frequently begun and just as frequently postponed project of getting the Yiddish language overstock in order. This is still my first effort to get this done ever. I should have gotten started on this in about 1998. 2002 at the latest. Not counting broken sets and periodicals we are talking about seven or eight bookcases worth of books. Oh the excitement!