A Book Scouting Trip through the Upper Midwest

At Old Scrolls Book Shop, we are always searching for excellent books to purchase for our inventory of out-of-print and rare books.  Some we buy from private individuals and libraries, others at public library sales, antique shops, and book shops across the country, some are brought in our front door by our customers or shipped to us from lands far away.

This is my favorite time of year, because in addition to the local/regional book scouting, we always plan a two-week scouting trip to areas of the country we don’t normally reach.  Last summer we spent two weeks on the road in New England.  We had a chance to meet and talk with booksellers all over the Northeast, and acquired hundreds of books from shops and book sales stretching from Northampton, Massachusetts to Boston and on up the coast as far as Bar Harbor, Maine.   We also visited New York City for the ABAA Book Fair last April, and squeezed in a scouting and author interview trip to New Orleans in the fall.  New Orleans is a beautiful city, with interesting book shops, lovely architecture, and so much history!

The year before (2008) we traveled New England as well, but started in New York City and worked our way north only as far as Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  In 2007 we concentrated on New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including the Philadelphia area, and dipped into Delaware.

This summer (late June through early July) we intend to make another Midwest book journey, from our own little spot on the map in Stanley, NY to Minneapolis, MN.    The last time we made a similar trip was in 2006, when we followed old Route 30 all the way to Davenport, Iowa, then headed north to the Twin Cities.   Two years earlier we made the trek on old Interstate Rte. 20.

The fun of the book scouting road trip is that we let the books lead us, with no itinerary set in stone.  Booksellers are very good about making recommendations and sending you off in the direction of the next good book shop; they are also generous with information on where to eat and imbibe!  We work hard each day from the time we rise out of bed at daybreak to when we fall into another bed at night, with visions of book titles swimming in our heads, squeezing as much book scouting into our days as we can.  Most of the books we box up and ship back to our home post office.   The wonderful staff at our tiny Stanley, NY post office enjoy seeing what town we’re shipping from every few days as we make our way across the country.

This year I hope to blog along the way, as we scout through Ohio, possibly Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and then (who knows?) either Iowa or Wisconsin and on to Minnesota.    If you have any recommendations for book sources, or know of any wonderful used & rare book shops, big or small, along the way that we just shouldn’t miss, let us know – we welcome your suggestions in the comments section!

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Several Friends of library groups run book stores, ongoing sales and scheduled book sales; and many are right along your route. Prior to entering each state, go to http://www.BookSaleFinder.com and see the book stores listed by city, as well as current book sales. Information is updated several times a day. Happy book hunting!

    • Hi Helen,
      So nice to hear from you and to know you are reading my blog! I interviewed your husband Tom about Booksalefinder for Bookthink back in 2007 (interview appears at http://www.bookthink.com/0092/92pro1.htm ). We have referred to booksalefinder.com for years in planning our book scouting trips, and always on a regular basis to find sales in our region — you run an excellent, useful site! Keep up the great work.
      Best Regards,
      Catherine Petruccione


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