Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2019 Issue

“A Bigger Job Than We Realized:” Revisiting the Published Page in Cleburne, Texas

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The Published Page.

In 2017, when last we wrote about The Published Page Bookshop, owners Jim Hart, and his wife Connye had just purchased a large antique building in Cleburne, Texas on the outskirts of Ft. Worth. After many years of selling books online they were determined to make a go of it as a traditional bricks and mortar bookstore.

 

At age 74 the Harts weren’t exactly youngsters, nor were they beginners as booksellers. They began online in 1997; then moved into an antique mall, next to a regional shopping center in Arlington,Texas. In 2005, when that wasn’t viable anymore, they dropped the store and sold exclusively on the internet for the next 12 years. The last five years they had a 3,000 sq. ft. warehouse. “When the lease was up in 2017, the landlord wanted a lot more money, so we thought it over and it was buy a building or forget it.”


So they took a big gamble and acquired Cleburne’s second oldest commercial space in a two story building with a total of 10,000 sq. ft. of interior space (5,000 on each floor) and features like 15 foot ceilings and art deco fixtures. While taking a brand new mortgage in your 70s is not for the faint of heart, they had high hopes that their bookstore would prosper and help to revitalize the town square of an aging small Texas town.

 

“Our family and friends helped with the move,” said Jim, “we had 30 to 40 people helping with taking stock out of storage, and starting to renovate, getting the shelves up….. It turned out to be a big job….It took four months to get to the point where city would let us open it.”

 

But the couple was filled with optimism: “I made a decision to take everything off line until we got oriented, that meant four months without income, and lots of repairs - some of them were hidden or unexpected. We finally got open Nov. 20, 2017, but we still didn’t have most books on the shelves.”

 

He thanked Jim Arner (a Wyoming retired bookseller) who came to Texas to help them take things out of boxes, catalog, and assist with the many other tasks necessary to get the ball rolling. They went from 2,000 books to 23,000 on shelves by the beginning of April 2018. Since then,” he said, “it’s just about double, we’re up to about 40,000 books.”

 

“That four months with no income was hard,” he recalled, “but even when online business gradually ramped up, it took a long time to recover. In the meantime, Amazon became even even more dominant.” Though the Harts have books listed on Amazon, Alibris, Abe, Biblio, Chrisland and their own site, their internet grosses still were thin.

 

“I don’t like dealing with Amazon,” Jim said, echoing the sentiments of so many in the trade, “I like the B&M alternative; as things go forward I’d like 90% (of our business to be) walk in or people who contact me directly”.

 

As for their new role as an economic engine for Cleburne (population 30,000) it’s been an eye-opener.

 

“The old town square was almost abandoned. There were lots of empty buildings, a little shoe repair place, one store, Brides and Beyond, and no foot traffic. But,” he noted, the presence of the bookstore helped and “over the last six month things are opening up. There’s a coffee shop completely renovating, a couple of nice restaurants, boutiques, it’s really starting to turn. It’s not there yet, but it’s happening. All four streets around our courthouse are major highways, foot traffic is building. The town tells us they love us.”

 

So far The Published Page has initiated an ongoing writers group, “I’d say we’ve got about forty people, extremely creative, one of the most successful things we’ve started. There’s one book club that meets regularly. We’ve had 15 or 20 author signings - all fun, but not all well attended. For one event the weatherman predicted hail, but the show went on anyway. It turned out well, we sold some books and they even asked to do it again.”



On the positive side “Sales go up every month, and that’s with only 3,500 sq. ft. occupied by the bookstore; there’s still plenty of room for expansion. The upstairs will be a treasure, but it will take a massive amount of work to get it going.” He envisions an office complex with lots of antique touches.

 

“Along the way we’ve made hundreds of new friends. We are 30 miles South of Fort Worth and 50 miles Southwest of Dallas. Lots of people make special trips to come see us. Fifty to seventy-five percent of our customers are driving from out of area to come here. Our customers say, ‘I didn’t know a store like that still existed.’”

 

“But as much fun as we’ve had it’s a bigger job than we realized. We just don’t have as deep pockets as we had planned.” The store has run into financial difficulties and fallen behind on mortgage and property tax. “We set up a $10K Go Fund Me Account about a month ago,” he said. “It quickly generated about $2,500 and stopped. We’re right at the place that we need to do something to catch up, and get restarted.”

 

For those who would like to see this ambitious venture climb out of the hole the link to the Go Fund Me Campaign is:

www.gofundme.com/ThePublishedPage/donate

 

They also accept donation via Paypal at

jimhart@publishedpage.com

 

As an incentive the shop is offering gift certificates that equal or exceed whatever amount is donated. “Give $50 get $65 in trade. I’m a total optimist to make this work out. Our income is going up as we’re paying our debts down.”

 

“We are never going to be the largest store in Texas but our goal is to have something unique. We should (eventually) have 70,000 to 80,000 books on shelves. Our stock is mostly out of print and used, you’ll find authors you don’t often see, local and regional history, really concentrated on Texas authors.”

 

He also hints he’s got a stash of petroleum geology books still in storage and he “probably should have gotten that out earlier. I’ve got people who are champing at the bit to go through them.”

 

According to Hart the largest group of customers “are over 60, but we get Millenials and young Gen Xers age 25-40 who like books, and want books for their kids, including old books. What’s really surprising is how many young people are planning to open stores. I’m hopeful it’s a trend.”

 

“Running a bookstore is not a way to get rich, but it is an enjoyable way to spend life. When we had an online business, none of our kids were very excited. Once we bought the building they became much more involved.”

 

As for the future: “I think Cleburne is just on edge of expansion. The new highway has cut down the drive time (from the metro areas). I expect population to double and triple in the next few years. When our bookstore is finished, I expect to see a big increase in value, substantially on the plus side. I wouldn’t mind being wealthy.”

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Joyce (James). <i>Dubliners,</i> first edition, signed presentation inscription from the author, 1914. £100,000 to £150,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> The Beatles.- Baker (Geoffrey.) 3 Autograph Letters and 1 Autograph Card signed to Ann Gosnell, addtionally sgn’d by George Harrison, John Lennon, Cynthia Lennon and others, 1968. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Pilgrim Press.- Dod (John). <i>A plaine and familiar exposition of the tenne commandements ...,</i> [Leiden], [William Brewster], 1617. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Automaton Chess Player & Mechanical Illusion.- Reynell (H., printer). “The Famous Chess-Player, No.14, St.James's-Street, next Brooks's,” broadside advertisement for "The famous Automaton", [1784]. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Clemens (Samuel Langhorne). <i>Life on the Mississippi,</i> first English edition, signed presentation inscription from the author, 1883. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Arctic Sledge Flag.- Fulford (Reginald Baldwin). Sledge flag... HMS Discovery, 1875. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> first edition, first printing, 1997. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Piranesi (Giovanni Battista). <i>Le Antichità Romane,</i> 4 vol., 1756. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal, called). <i>Urbis Venetiarum Prospectus Celebriores,</i> 3 parts in 1, Richard Ford's copy, Venice, Giovanni Battista Pasquali, 1751. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Atlases.- Speed (John). <i>A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World,</i> bound with <i>The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine,</i> 1631-27. £12,000 to £18,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Anatomical illustration.- Aselli (Gaspare). <i>De lactibus sive lacteis venis... dissertatio,</i> first edition, Milan, Giovanni Battista Bidelli, 1627. £20,000 to £30,000
  • <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>September 25, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> FIRST EDITION, first issue, 8vo, 1997. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Bible, Italian.- Malermi Bible, woodcut illustrations, folio, Lazaro de Soardi & Bernardino Benali, Venice,1517. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Germany.- Homann (Johann Baptist). <i>Atlas von Deutschland,</i> engraved half title, hand coloured, 87 double page engraved maps, [folio, Erben, Nuremberg, 1753]. £8,000 to £10,000
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>September 25, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> [Mirk (John)].- <i>Liber festivalis et Quatuor sermons</i> [bound with], [Le Roy (Pierre)] <i>A Pleasant Satyre or Poesie,</i> first edition in English, Widdow Orwin for Thomas Man, 1595, 8vo. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Antoninus Florentinus (Saint Archbishop of Florence). <i>Confessionale: Defecerunt…,</i> 8vo, Pietro Quarengi, Venice, 15 February 1499. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Jesuit Letters.- [Froes (Father Luigi) & et al.)] Avvisi del Giapone de gli anni 1582, 1583, 1584…, 1586 [bound with] Avvisi della Cina et Giapone…, FIRST EDITIONS, Rome. £1,000 to £1,500
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>September 25, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Plutarch & Probus (Aemilius). <i>Plutarchi Cheronei et Aemilii Probi Illustrium,</i> folio, Nicolas de Pratis for Jean-Petit, Paris, 1521. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Bible.- English. <i>The Byble in Englyshe of the Largest and Greatest volume,</i> elaborate woodcut border, text vignettes, folio, 1541. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Fore-edge Painting.- Lord George Byron, The Giaour, a Fragment of a Turkish Tale, bound with 10 other titles, 4 plates marked 'Proof.', 1813. £800 to £1,200
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>September 25, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Manson (John). Twelve by Sixteen Papers of John Mason, a collection of 50 sheets of paper, some watermarked, 12 x 16”, c.1978. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Fleming (Ian). <i>Dr. No,</i> FIRST EDITION, original boards, dust-jacket, 8vo, 1958. £700 to £900
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Eliot (T.S.) <i>Four Quartets,</i> NUMBER 121 of 290 COPIES, signed by author, 1960. £400 to £600

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