“Man is by nature a social animal.”

– Aristotle

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Most of us crave companionship at home, but what about companionship at work? Since I was old enough to work, I have believed that a key to my personal happiness  in life would be to work for myself in some form or fashion. Like most, I worked my way through school and set out on professional adventure after professional adventure until landing somewhat haphazardly in my current, now chosen, field of work. I entered the bookselling trade through a series of events that are not unlike others I would suppose. I worked in the business for some good guys and I worked for some real bastards. I learned as much as I could from each, albeit leaving as much of the knowledge in my wake as I took with me. That leads me up to the point where I start fresh and squarely on my own two feet.

In all the years that I worked for other, larger bookselling outfits, I took for granted that I was not alone. I knew that I worked with other people and I knew that I would have to put up with other people’s problems, banter, praise and ridicule on a daily basis. Over the whole, I never really minded working with other folks and as long as we all stayed on task, much was accomplished even with the banter. Now that I am an independent rare bookman and appraiser, I find that I miss the daily interaction with others. The internet has most certainly made it possible for all of us sole-proprietor like businesses to survive, if not thrive, but damn… It is lonely out here!

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Make no mistake, this article is not about complaining or any sort of pity-party, it is about change. Just because we do many of the functions of our business independently doesn’t mean we have to work independently. In my profession, booksellers exhibit at Antiquarian book fairs and/or antique shows. We plan, prepare and pack for weeks to be able to put on a good show. WE LOVE IT! We love showing off our new wares. We love the thought of spending the weekend hunting down bargains in our neighbors’ booths.   We love the time we spend with each other.

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Why can’t we make more of that time???

Before I left Nashville for the wilds of Florida, it was my weekly pizza-eating get together with folks like Robert Hicks, Carl “The Legend” Smith, Mike, Justin, Russell, Joel, Keith, Greg and a myriad of other bookish guys in town that got me through the week. I loved the guys I worked with, but I talked shop on another level when I was out of the store and with “kindred-blooded” spirits. Over pizza and soda at Brooklyn Brothers or Hattie-B’s Hot Chicken we could easily pass a few hours just telling stories about recent finds, stories we were working on or places we had been in the pursuit of our fortune and glory.

I am calling on all of us to reach out to each other. Sharing our knowledge and our stories is not about helping the competition. We are all in this together – booksellers, writers, fans, and collectors! Other industries call it networking… Just the word “networking” pisses me off… How many hot-button, newfangled words of the year do we have to implement to make us sound cool??? Or professional??? Instead of “networking”, let’s just call it going out for a beer with our friends! Get together wherever you are. Pay heed to this CALL TO ACTION    YOU WON’T REGRET IT…

Mike Cotter

Back in Time Rare Books

“The Transforming World of Collectible”

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