My wife and I will close this week on a used and rare book store located just outside New Haven, Connecticut, in a small town called Bethany. The name of the shop is Whitlock Farm Book Barns, and it sits in a picture perfect meadow. It's the sort of place where horses outnumber people, even though we are only 80 miles from New York City.
Yalies will perhaps know the place. The Whitlock family has been a fixture in New Haven for almost a century. The Book Barns have been open since 1948.
Of course, my wife and I know little about the buying and selling of books. We are readers, but we are learning to buy and sell with the assistance of a great staff with decades of experience. For a fun fictional account of some the joys of book selling, you can't beat John Dunning's Cliff Janeway Series. Booked to Die is the first in the series.
We are looking for book scouts. What's a scout? Someone who can't resist a used book store, an estate sale, browsing a flea market, or stopping wherever the written word is on display to find a treasure. Put less prosaically, someone who intuitively understands the following: Books set you free.
So, in your travels keep an eye peeled for Americana, legal materials, rare briefs, literature of protest, books once banned by some stuck-up constipated spirit, photographs of great litigators, posters, pamphlets all breathing fire, brimstone and the spirt of liberty, and ephemera related to the law and the courts. I am particularly interested in Clarence Darrow. I suspect these things will become our niche in the independent book sellers' world. Shoot me a note at [email protected] about what you have found, and I just might buy it.
Better yet, drop me a line at:
Whitlock Farm Book Barns, 20 Sperry Road, Bethany, CT 06524. Phone: 203.393.1240.
And remember, any judge who shops at Whitlock's gets a free paperback copy of the Wizard of Oz if he or she presents identification sufficient to permit us to determine they are a member of Oz's cast.
Help keep the spirit of independence alive in New England.