He left courtroom for the book trade

Boe Rushing: "This is the perfect spot to carry on the traditional bookstore."

By Boe Rushing

I am a lawyer by profession who hopes that he never has to see the inside of a courtroom again. For the past 11 years I have been pursuing full time my real passion, books. It all began when I moved to Canada to get married in 2001. Unable to practice law there without jumping through a thousand hoops, I tried to find a career where I could be self-employed doing something I actually enjoyed.

One afternoon as I discussed the rare book business with a gentleman who had purchased a shop several years earlier, a light went on in my head. That night I told my wife that I wanted to open an antiquarian bookstore. After her initial surprise she became my biggest champion in this new endeavor. After spending our first year in a bad location we ended up in a 150-year-old building two doors down from a coffee shop in a quaint area called Wortley Village. We did much better in this neighborhood, which was once called one of the coolest neighborhoods in Canada. It was filled with "book people." College professors, a former member of the band Simply Red, and even Room writer Emma Donohue frequented the store.

In 2004 my daughter was born, and this would eventually bring me back to Florida. In late 2005, I sold off most of my books, closed my first baby, Bowman Books, and we moved back south. The next several years were a combination of Mr. Mom and Internet bookselling but I really missed having an open shop. In August 2009 I won a scholarship to the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. The experiences I had and the people I met in Colorado intensified my desire to once again have an open shop.

While an open shop comes with its share of headaches and overhead, there is really nothing quite like it. So in January 2010, I opened Back in the Day Books in historic downtown Tarpon Springs. We initially opened on a side street but now we are entrenched on Tarpon Avenue, across from the Tarpon Springs Historical Society's welcome center in the old train depot.

This is a perfect spot to carry on the traditional bookstore. My building is nearly 100 years old and I am surrounded by antique shops and art galleries. Once again we are several doors down from a coffee shop. My brick and mortar store has an actual exposed brick wall and with the demise of Borders I now have upper shelving and a rolling ladder covering most of my east wall. I like to think that the store is a work in progress, always improving and changing. That really is how it works out since the longer you are open the better your stock becomes. I hope to survive this crazy economy and all of the changes in the book world so that I can be part of passing on a love of actual books to a new generation.

Boe Rushing is owner of Back in the Day Books in Tarpon Springs, Florida.


In the beginning, military books

Barbara Nailler:Luckily the owner had some brawny friends helping us ...”

By Barbara Nailler

When first asked to write an anecdote about my store, Wolf’s Head Books, I thought “Oh, my gosh, what one will I choose?” as I’ve had so many wonderful experiences in the 31 years of bookselling. This is one of my favorites.

The late Harvey Wolf and I opened our first bookstore, July 1980, in the basement of the Morgantown, West Virginia, water department, knowing in a few months we would move upstairs. A few weeks later, I received a call from a secretary at the college where I had taught asking if we were interested in military books. Seems her son-in-law had just inherited his father’s home and library. The father was an intelligence expert in WW I, so the collection contained everything anyone could ever want to know about the subject. We said “Yes” and a few days later arrived in Boston in our VW Dasher diesel station wagon. It was a 22-room duplex on a privately owned street. And, of course, most of the books were on the third floor—with no elevator.

After the deal was made and money changed hands, we started packing. We had no boxes and no bags though a trip to the local grocery store outfitted us with hundreds of large brown paper sacks. We packed and we packed and we packed some more and then the carrying down the wide wooden stairways began. Luckily the owner had some brawny friends helping us, or we would have been there for days. In the end our VW was filled to the gills as was a rented U-Haul truck. It was a long drive home, especially when the truck had a flat tire.

After we unloaded all these sacks in the basement in the spaces around the bookcases, we received a call from a northern military book dealer who wanted to purchase all the spy books. He drove down to peruse them and made a low-ball offer which we declined, so we suggested he pick out only those he really wanted. In the end, he paid us as much for those as he had offered for all the spy books. He left with his prize books and we had money!

A few months later we were vendors at the military history book show near Philadelphia, where we took many of the other volumes. To our great pleasure, another specialist military book dealer came to our booth. We were awestruck when he just started piling books up in his arms without even opening them to look at the prices. And again we left with money … something all of us like.

So in the end, we bought a collection more desirable than we even knew at the outset. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that happened every time any of us traveled for a book buy?

Barbara Nailler owns Wolf's Head Books in St. Augustine, Florida.


Leaving a good legacy for the future

Mike Smith with Nuremberg Trials transcript, a recent interesting find.

By Mike Smith


A legacy is “something you leave behind,” hopefully good, not bad. The truth is that we all will leave a legacy. Our goal and plan at A Book Legacy is to make it good! How about you?

Carol, my wife, and I began our journey together as teenage sweethearts in Alabama. For more than 40 years we have honored our commitment to one another and our family, due in large part, to the legacy our parents taught and left to us. Both sides taught us to work hard, have confidence in ourselves, help others, and honor God and country. (I know this sounds hokey to some, but it’s true!)

Carol’s dad, Roy McKinney, left us more than his Christian witness as a pastor. He left us 20,000+ books! A Book Legacy was born and we entered the fascinating world of books. For the past 20+ years we have bought, sold, and collected books. (Did I mention we bought books?) We tell folks we specialize in Americana, religion, genealogy, and military. Fact is, we are just like most book dealers and cannot pass up a good book value no matter the genre!

Book dealers are like football fans. (Roll Tide!) They are passionate about their team (genre), but love the sport (being a bibliophile and bookseller). Personally, my thrill is the “hunt”! I get excited when I can dig in boxes or scan bookshelves looking for odd, unusual, scarce, or rare looking books.

A recent interesting find for me is an original transcript of one of the Nuremberg Nazi Trials of 1946, inscribed and signed by the chief judge. (That is the one I am holding in the photo). Another prize is my signed copy of Gorbachev. I met the former General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union at a business seminar and he personally signed his book. The Russians think he is the one “who tore down the wall,” not Reagan. (Imagine that?) Once the “hunt” resulted in the purchase of a paperback book for 10 cents called “Bad Feet, Bad Back”. I sold it for $125 to a chiropractor in Australia.

Why am I a book dealer? (I am also a college professor.) Reasons are many and include the challenge, the intellectual stimulation, and most of all the FUN! (By the way, Thomas, Michelle, Matt, and Gevorg, we are not sure what you will do with the inventory. Who plans to carry the legacy forward?)

Please visit us at booth 82 during the FABA Book Fair March 9-11, 2012. But do not wait until then to peruse our inventory. Go to www.abooklegacy.com and browse. Before you leave the site, please use the link to our Facebook page and connect with us. Tell us what you think about our Web site and any suggestions you may have for how we can improve our Legacy!


About FABA Journal

FABA Journal is a magazine-style blog for book lovers highlighting the members of the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association and their activities, as well as general news about antique books, collecting, and related subjects.

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