This week, at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, we’ve got a special spotlight to shine on ABSW owner, Patty Cryan! Patty has worked as a bookseller since 1987; she started with Reader’s Market, a discount outlet for Waldenbooks, in Rye Brook, NY, and worked there until 1990. Afterwards, she spent the next six years working for Children’s Book World in Guilderland, NY, until relocating to Worcester, MA in 1996. From 1996 to 1999, she was the children’s department section head at Tatnuck Bookseller and Sons on Chandler Street in Worcester, MA, and then moved to their purchasing department from 1999 to 2003. In the interim between leaving Tatnuck Bookseller and assuming ownership of Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester in 2010, she sold books online.
We’re interviewing her this week because we’ve got a special weekend coming up on April 30 and May 1.
April 30 is Independent Bookstore Day, and here at 65 James Street, we love being an independent bookstore. We offer support to local authors, artists, artisans, and businesses as often as possible; we curate our shelves to best suit what we and our patrons love the most; and we host extraordinary events—like open up our collection of vintage books to the public to buy over the April 30-May 1 weekend!
Patty has been working with collectibles for a number of years, selling them through private and online sales. They are usually kept safe and protected offsite with a small few in the store that our patrons might especially be interested in. However recently, Patty came into a particularly large collection of rare and vintage books. The staff has been working overtime in archival gloves to evaluate, price, and protectively bag the books, and during the weekend of Independent Bookstore Day, we will allow people to browse and buy these unusual, uncommon, rare, and beautiful books—among them being first editions, illustrated editions, hard-to-find translations, and detailed historical texts.
After this weekend, they will be carefully stored once more and only available through our online and private sales.
Patty, what is it that draws you to older and vintage books? How did you first get involved with them?
Books of a certain age remind me of my childhood, of having the opportunity to grow up in a large and extended multi-generational family who all loved books. From great-grandparents to my own nieces and nephew, everyone in my family has loved books. Helping my grandparents and parents keep their home libraries dusted [the source of my very first allowance], and trips to our local library gave me an appreciation for the sheer HISTORY of books.
What do you think draws people to older books? What magic do we find in them?
Some people are looking to recapture some of their own nostalgia; others look at them as artifacts to spark imagination and give context to a time that they haven’t experienced themselves.
What are some of the most interesting books you’ve come across in your time looking at older books?
Oh, there’s far too many to count. I’m always impressed by the sheer breadth of what people have held onto for the next generation.
What books have you come across in this newest collection that you almost kept for yourself and why?
There is a multi-volume set of books called THE SCRIBNER RADIO MUSIC LIBRARY that makes me quite happy to look at. In addition to books always being a part of my life, I grew up with intergenerational music tastes; as a little kid in the 1960’s, I probably knew more turn-of-the-century popular songs than I knew about then-current AM and FM radio.
Which of the available titles most excited you to find and why?
We have a Sir Walter Scott that looks its age on the outside, but is just a beauty within.
I know there are specific guidelines for evaluating vintage books, but what are some personal values you assign that go beyond quantitative measurements and into our emotional ties to books?
Illustrations, endpapers, frontispieces… I have one of those visual memories that associates images with emotions, and thus pen-and-ink and woodcuts always give me a feeling of peace, because of my own memories of spending time with books like these as a child.
During the Independent Book Store Day weekend, Patty will also give two brief talks with Q & A sessions. On Saturday, April 30, at 1:00 PM, Patty will be reading “Books about Books,” and sharing some of her favorite books that talk about the magic and power of books. Then, on Sunday, May 1, at 1:00 PM again, Patty will talk about some of her specific adventures in working with vintage books.
Patty and ABSW look forward to celebrating Independent Bookstore Day and sharing our amazing vintage book collection with our beloved friends and supporters on April 30 and May 1. Please come out and join us in the fun and book love!