David Mason sees his book business winding down but says good writing will never go out of style

September 13, 2013 – 14:10

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    David Mason is a hunter. His prey hides in bargain bins full of long-forgotten coffee table books. His prize trophies line the shelves of a basement bookstore, David Mason Books, near Spadina and Adelaide, in the basement of an upscale office building.

    After 50 years of finding books and selling them, Mason is passing the torch to the next generation with his new autobiography, The Pope’s Bookbinder, on sale June 6: a sweeping tour of the bookselling industry through the eyes of a man who has been at the heart of it for decades. His hope, he said, is to pass on the trade to the next generation.

    “A stretch of 50 years is a long time. An antiquarian bookseller learns that time goes on and on forever — we end up with a view of history that is different from a normal person because we live essentially in the past, ” said Mason. “You get a view of continuity and those things become very important to you.”

    Possibly Toronto’s most prolific antiquarian bookseller, his book chronicles his rise from a young man interested in bookselling to the modern David Mason: a man whose bookstore spans two huge basement offices. Countless volumes line handmade shelves fashioned from scrap wood with doors made of windowpanes.

    “I’m now too old to have this many books in downtown Toronto. I’ve got maybe two more years here and they’re going to double my rent. I shouldn’t be here now and I’m not going to be here in two years, ” he said.

    But while Mason thinks his time is running out, he insists there will always be a place for good books and good booksellers. The Internet has changed things, he acknowledges, but not necessarily in the way most people think. The state of the printed book is as it has always been: dismal.

    His customer base is still a hardcore handful of book buyers who come from a small subset of the population that buys books seriously, meaning three or four a week. He cites a study that found about 4 per cent of the population makes up that demographic.

    “But the funny thing was, the survey wasn’t done last week or even last year; it was done in 1905, ” he said. “It’s not that people don’t buy books anymore, that people don’t read books anymore: they never did.”

    Besides supplying countless private collectors and bibliophiles, Mason’s hunting skills have also helped stock the rare book collection at the University of Toronto.

    “We’ve had a relationship with him for over 30 years. He’s been one of the main antique book dealers in the city. When he started out it was quite a flourishing scene. Now, of course, it’s quite diminished. He’s one of the few left standing, ” said Anne Dondertman, director of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto.

    Dondertman said booksellers like Mason provide an impeccable eye, a sense for what is significant amid piles of dusty texts.

Source: www.thestar.com

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Re: Pricing around Antique books...some advice

2010-05-27 18:41:09 by ABECare

I have noticed that in the Toronto area people try to flog what they consider antique books for outrageous prices. Check ABE Books online, as they deal with rare books and the like. for example, one school book published in 1948 was offered at $50. I checked and you can get the same thing on ABE Books for $7 plus $5.99 shipping! Some are offered under the price too. Hope this is useful.

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