George Cowmeadow Bauman is the co-owner of the Acorn Bookshop. He’s married to his best friend, Dr. Linda Mizejewski, a senior professor at the Ohio State University in the Women’s Studies department, specializing in film and literature.
George came to Acorn in 1998 after managing in 13 other bookstores in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The first bookstore job was as the manager of the book department at Geneva College during his college years. His mother was the store manager and influenced him in the approach to bookstore management. His father owned his own business as well as being a school teacher, and inspired George to want to own his own business, and with George’s orientation to bookstores, that is the business he wanted for himself one day.
His mother’s sister, Margaret Cowmeadow, was a professor of English at the college, and was George’s primary influence. She gave him books from an early age, and he took to them intensely – as George does anything. When his sister and brother were playing with new toys on Christmas morning, George was off in a corner under the tree, engrossed in one of the books his aunt gave him. When he graduated from Geneva with a degree in Religion and Philosophy, he was uncertain as to a career, having decided the ministry was not for him, though he had been the student pastor for a local church for three years, doing everything except marrying and burying folks. His aunt asked what he REALLY wanted to do. George thought about it for a minute, then replied facetiously, “I’d like to get paid to hang out in a bookstore!” His aunt cut through the facetiousness and said, “Well?…..” And 43 years later, he’s still getting paid to hang out in a bookstore!
His favorite pre-Acorn bookstore gig was managing the on-board bookstore on board the S. S. Universe for Semester at Sea. They sailed around the world from Florida to California, stopping in nine countries along the way in South America, Africa, the Indian sub-continent, and Asia. As you can imagine, he’s got many great stories from such a voyage.
He also was able to spend one year each in Romania – when it was behind the Iron Curtain and experiencing great oppression from the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu – and Slovakia, after the Wall had fallen. More intense experiences; more great stories.
And speaking of stories, George spends much time away from the store writing “Bookstore-ies”. So many interesting people visit Acorn that George takes notes and crafts them into compelling store-ies which are sometimes humorous, sometimes intense, and occasionally both. Click on “Bookstore-ies” for a few of George’s writings.
He also has a blog at: http://bookstore-ies.blogspot.com/
Linda and he are allowed to live with four Siamese cats: Gator, Satchmo, Lucy Liu, and Biblio, who is semi-retired from being Acorn’s store cat, the director of Customer Relations. He has his own web page on acornbookshop.com. George is always taking photographs of the cats.
In fact, George takes photographs of everything, all the time – in the store, at home, and of landscapes especially. Soon he’ll have some of his outstanding nature photography on the Acorn website.
And if you’re a baseball fan, the Acorn bookstore is the place for diamond-talk. George dreams – futilely – of someday seeing the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cleveland Indians in the World Series, as he grew up in New Castle, Pennsylvania, about halfway between those two major-league cities. Now he goes to see the Columbus Clippers in their beautiful new ballpark.
His personal book collection is on just one topic: bookstores and bookselling, and has one of the larger collections of such in the country.
George reads broadly and several books at a time, though one of them is almost always a mystery and another from his bookselling collection.
SOME OF GEORGE’S FAVORITES
Scott Russell Sanders’ books of outstanding, very readable essays about the intersection of nature, humans, and spirituality. I believe that this man’s work is important enough to always have a few of his books in stock at Acorn, including his latest, “A Conservationist Manifesto”. View his website here.
Conrad Richter’s trilogy, “The Trees”, “The Fields”, and “The City”, about the early days when white settlers were first coming to Ohio .
Michael Malone’s very funny book, “Handling Sin” about a Southern real estate man sent on a wild scavenger hunt by his hospitalized father. All of Malone’s books.
Tom Sharp’s novels with very British humor, especially the ones around a character called Wilt: “Wilt”, “Wilt on High”, and “The Wilt Alternative”.
Bailey White, she of NPR commentator fame: “Mama Makes up Her Mind and Other Dangers of Southern Living”
Any of the intense, well-written mysteries by Elizabeth George and the very funny Janet Evanovich, as well as Navajo-nation-focused Tony Hillerman
Books by William P. Kinsella, a Canadian writer whose books cover baseball fiction and fiction about northwest Native Americans.
“Time and Again” by Jack Finney.
“The Magus” by John Fowles.
“ Spoon River Anthology” by Edgar Lee Masters”
*Blue Highways” by William Least Heat Moon
“The Haunted Bookshop” by Christopher Morley
And two books by Rosamund Pilcher, “The Shell Seekers”, and “Winter Solstice”, which I enjoy so much that I have read it each of the last ten holiday seasons.
George recommends very highly the music of Ian Tyson, Canadian songwriter-singer of songs that celebrate Western life from his southern Alberta ranch-owner perspective. Other male singer favorites are Jimmy Buffett (his post-“Cheeseburger in Paradise ” CDs from the last 15 years or so), Bing Crosby, Paul McCartney, and Kenny Rogers.
George’s favorite rock band of all-time is Kansas, and he enjoys also The Eagles, Heart, the Moody Blues, the Beatles, and from a different era, Glenn Miller and Guy Lombardo.
His favorite female singer is Linda Ronstadt, with Reba McIntire, Celine Dion, Doris Day, and Dolly Parton close behind.
And the movies and music of Roy Rogers – especially without Dale Evans – make him smile.
ACORN’S OWN CHRISTINE HAYES WRITING COLUMBUS HISTORY BLOG
Art Cars are moving sculpture. Fun Art straight to the people.
Ramona Moon was born in Columbus, graduated from Thomas Worthington, graduated from the University of California at Irvine, followed fellow theatre majors up to San Francisco where she lived for 27 years (the City and Marin County ).
In Marin she encountered the denizens of the Unknown Museum , some of whom made Art Cars, and began her own Art Car at the Automotive Fashion Show in Mill Valley in 1978.
Her son Lucian is also an artist who lives in Eureka , California . In 1997 Ramona moved back to Columbus , giving up her Montessori teaching career and various art and theatre gigs around the Bay Area (she was artist-in-residence of Fairfax , CA for two years.)
In 1998 Ramona met Greg Phelps, who also had an Art Car, and they embarked upon the promoting of Art Cars in Ohio shows such as Ramona’s International Drive-In, Dragonfly Neo-V events, the Toledo Old West End Festivals, Comfest, the DooDah Parades, various school events, the High Road Gallery, Junctionview Studios, and of course Hot Times. Greg started with leading the Hot Times parade in his That Car and now it has blossomed into twenty cars on the lawn of the Health Department every September.
Ramona now has three Art Cars, one is in the book and film Wild Wheels by Harrod Blank.
She is also known as Christine Hayes, works at Acorn Bookshop in Grandview , and writes a column for the Short North Gazette. Her columns can be accessed at shortnorth.com/Hayes.html
J. R. Salling (“Jack in the back”) manages our on-line sales and antiquarian titles. Born in 1961, he began collecting books at the age of ten and has been buying, trading, appraising and selling ever since, interspersed with stints in advertising and education, and assisted by an undergraduate degree in history, international relations, education and mathematics, and graduate degrees in the history of science and education (with a focus on neurology). He has also published over 170 short stories and poems in various print and on-line literary journals.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY HELPED ME HIRE A BOOKSELLER
by George Cowmeadow Bauman
I hired Jack Salling as our Internet specialist because Ernest Hemingway wrote “Men without Women” in 1927, and because 78 years later a young couple courageously decided back in the spring of 2005 to open up a secondhand bookstore in Indianapolis.
The wannabe Indiana booksellers broadcast a call for donations to fill their shelves, and received dozens of boxes of books from family and friends, readers and collectors. There are booklovers who want to help buck the trend of declining presence of non-chain bookstore in cities, who recognize the cultural benefits that a bookshop brings to a community. Having a new neighborhood bookshop to hang out in inspired many Indy bookstore-lovers to part with their own goodies.
As these budding bibliopoles sorted through the hundreds of literary – and some not-so-literary – offerings, they came across something special: a signed copy of Ernest Hemingway’s “Men without Women”…in a scarce dust jacket.
I can just imagine the two of them sitting on their cluttered apartment floor, night after night, going through box after box of mostly low-value, beat-up books, exhilarated about achieving their dream, but a little discouraged with the lack of quality among the titles. If they were knowledgeable enough to know which were low quality, unlikely-to-sell books. Empty pizza boxes and cans of Coke probably sat on whatever flat surfaces that weren’t covered by piles of books in various categories. Maybe a couple of young cats jumping delightedly in and out of the boxes and bags being unpacked. All night sorting sessions pumped up by Bruce Springsteen and The Beatles so the day job can be attended to with any leftover energy.
Opening and operating a bookstore is not for the weak of body or the weak of spirit. It requires the focus and dedication of an Olympic athlete, whose goal is to succeed in doing your personal best regardless of the inconvenience of ceaseless effort.
As their discouragement spread – where do all those romance paperbacks come from?! – the Hemingway appeared, and their bookstore dreams became a little more real.
But what to do with it?! How could they tell if it were a first edition, which of course would increase the value. These were rookie bookies, and had neither experience nor a reference library to help them understand what they had. But they suspected that they had something special.
What they also had was a good friend attending Indiana University to study book conservation and preservation. Nicole Wolfersberger was from Columbus, where she used to work in one of the bookstores here.
Nicole examined the book closely for edition and condition, knowing that those attributes for valuable books can become the combination which collectors pay big money for.
There was good news and there was bad news. The book was a first edition, indicated by the famous Scribner “A” on the copyright page, elevating its value way beyond what a non-first would bring, especially with the dust jacket. The bad news was inside the book. On the front free endpaper was a large bookplate of the previous owner. That wasn’t as bad as what held it in place: In addition to using the adhesive backing of the bookplate, someone in the ‘50s had stupidly inadvisedly taped the edges down with cheap cellophane tape, which had yellowed with age over the years, becoming as ugly as a large, oozing pimple on a prom-queen’s nose on the night of the big dance. This book should have had a bag over its binding.
With her book connections in Columbus, Nicole knew Harry Campbell, the nationally-known book-conservation wizard at the Ohio State University’s library. She knew that if anyone could turn this monstrosity into desirability, Harry could.
If he would.
Nicole knew that the work on Ohio State’s special collections kept Harry as busy as D.C. spin doctors. But she thought it was worth a try, and told the couple that the next time she came to Columbus, she’d take the book with her and see what could be done about giving Hemingway a makeover and inflating his value.
A few weeks later, a slim, dark-haired young woman was browsing at Acorn, and as she brought several books to the counter, she began talking about how she formerly worked for Books on High in town, and about these friends of hers in Indy who were opening a secondhand bookshop, and how they had found the Hemingway and didn’t know what to do with it. About how she was on her way to see Harry that day.
“I know what to do with it!” I thought to myself. “Sell it to me and let me deal with its significant flaw.”
When Nicole mentioned that she had the special book with her, I asked to see it, still not showing my cards that I might be interested in buying it, though I knew it was worth thousands. While Nicole went to her car to retrieve it, I quickly researched online prices, and learned that if it were bookplateless, it might list for $7000.
We examined the book together, and casually I mentioned that if the couple needed the money to get their bookstore ready to open, I might be interested in purchasing it.
“What do you think it’s worth?” Nicole asked.
“As crazy as this sounds,” I replied, “with the bookplate mess, they’d be lucky to get $4000 for it. If Harry can clean it up, it might go for as much as $7000.”
We both thought about that for a moment, then I said, “Tell them that if they chose to wholesale it for money now, as opposed to waiting until they develop a market for it, I’d pay them $3000, and pay for the restoration myself.”
“I’ll pass that along to them,” she replied, “and I appreciate you taking time to talk with me about this.”
Nicole came back the next day and reported that Harry said that he could take a crack at it, as time permitted, and the charge would be between $100-200, depending on how much time the operation took.
Once again I asked her to tell her friends about my offer, and off she went to the state next door.
Several anxious weeks went by without any word from Indiana, so I emailed Nicole to ask what the situation was with the Hemingway book.
She wrote that she had conveyed my offer, but the couple was unsure as to what to do. To keep or keep not the Hemingway was the question.
After another fruitless query a month later, I gave up and resigned myself to having had the opportunity pass me by.
Ah, ye of little faith.
Jack’s bookstore destiny was back on track when several months later I received word from Nicole that the couple had decided that they needed money more than the book. They were willing to sell it to me for what they thought was an amazing amount of money. They hadn’t even opened yet, and were about to sell a book – a donated, free book – for $3000! This was a serious financial blessing on that literary endeavor.
Paper magician Harry Campbell restored the Hemingway beautifully, leaving but a ghost of the bookplate and no evidence of the offensive tape. I put the fragile dust jacket in an archival book cover, priced the Hemingway at $7000, and placed it prominently in one of our glass-front showcases.
I would have listed it on the Internet as many bookdealers were doing, but we hadn’t taken that mighty leap to cyber-selling. We had been wanting for several years to go online, as we had many books – such as an extensive collection on the geology of Canada – that would be desirable to a market far beyond central Ohio. However, Internet selling required someone knowledgeable about that approach, with dedicated time to research and list the books, as well as to process the orders that came in. Christine and I had our hands full just handling the buyers and sellers at Acorn. We needed someone to join the staff, but we had no idea where to find such an experienced person. In Columbus, the pool of qualified cyber-oriented booksters was as shallow as an inverted contact lens.
So Hemingway began its life in our showcase, receiving many admiring glances and comments, but the price was intimidating. I didn’t care whether I sold it or not. Having such an outstanding book displayed at $7000 was great PR for the store.
Most folks don’t come to a secondhand bookshop to spend thousands of dollars. But one man did.
He was a book-dealer from Atlanta, on a buying trip through the Midwest, and was doing the bookshops of Columbus that day when he spied “Men without Women”. Uh-oh.
We dickered a bit about the price – I had the upper hand since I wasn’t eager to sell it, and if the deal fell through, Acorn still had its prize possession. On the other hand, if we were able to ring several thousand dollars through the register…
Finally we agreed on a price, and I lovingly and sadly packed our peach of a book in bubble-wrap for its trip to the Peach State. The showcase looked drab without Hemingway to brighten it up, despite having many other fine books on display.
About a week after we sold the Hemingway, Laralyn Sasaki came in. Laralyn worked Saturdays for us, and was Acorn Nut #15. She was also a bookscout, going to yard sales and other venues where she could buy books inexpensively from our provided list of needed books. She would then sell them to us profitably to build up her store credit. As she lugged two large book-filled bags past the showcase, she did a double-take. She turned to me behind the counter, raising her eyebrows, and asked, “What happened to the Hemingway? Did you sell it?”
There was a browser in the history bay, but he didn’t seem about to check out, so I pulled her books to me for evaluation and told her the story of selling our literary prize.
Just as I mentioned that the buyer was a book dealer from Atlanta, our one browser, a short, slim bearded man, appeared with a stack of books from the American history section.
Tilting his head and smiling, he asked, “Did you say that a dealer from Atlanta bought a special book?”
Laralyn and I exchanged a glance before I replied that yes, we had sold a signed first “Men without Women” to an Atlanta dealer.
“Which dealer?” he asked.
I wasn’t surprised at the turn of conversation. When you work in a bookstore, talk with customers ranges widely and changes directions quickly. I told History Man the name of the dealer.
He nodded and said, “I know him. I used to work in the book business in Atlanta and though I never met him, I ordered books from his store.”
Naturally that begged the question from me, “What did you do in the book business in Atlanta?”
He had worked for a dealer that I had visited just the year before, so that gave this interesting 35-ish guy some credibility with me. He said that he had worked for an appraisal company as well, dealing in manuscripts and autographs.
But the most exciting thing was that he sold books on the Internet for himself. And he seemed affable enough to work with customers.
As he was talking about his experience, I wondered about inviting him to join my staff. What were the chances that he was available? Nah, too coincidental to happen.
But I did ask him what he was currently doing.
“My wife is an executive with Scotts Miracle-Gro company, which is why we came to Columbus,” he said. “I’m thinking about taking a few classes at OSU, perhaps working on a Ph. D. in history.”
Oh, lordie, he might be available!
I rang up his sale, and while bagging his books, I told him that we’d been thinking about selling books online, but we didn’t have anyone to do take charge of that aspect of the operation.
Apprehensively, I asked, “Would you be interested in coming in to talk with me about the possibility of working here, specifically to get us up and running on the Internet?”
I think that caught him a bit by surprise, for he hesitated, not sure what to say. How often do you go out shopping and come home with an unexpected, unsolicited job offer?! Then he said, “Sure. Why not?”
Because he came to the counter when he did – not five minutes earlier nor five minutes later, Jack was hired.
I’m writing this store-y 4½ years later, and Jack has listed over 27,000 Acorn books online, and we’ve sold about 13,000 of them, a very satisfactory percentage of sales to listings. In that time our online sales have zoomed to be 50% of Acorn’s total sales. After hiring him to work two days a week, the response to our online books was so strong that within a month he began working fulltime. Our former customer has become an invaluable employee.
Now we call him Jack-in-the-back, and we also call him Acorn Nut #16.
Thanks to Ernest Hemingway, Harry Campbell, and the young Indiana booksellers.
For more Bookstore-IES like this one, click here
Norman came to the Acorn Bookshop from the other side of the continental divide. He studied chemistry in graduate school at Ohio University and worked as a chemist for 26 years for the Ohio Geological Survey. His hobbies are photography, genealogy, and recreational mathematics.
He has been married to wife Brita for 48 years and they have four children and three grandchildren.
Norman started working in 2000, when George needed help for a big project, and since Norman was a constant customer, and newly retired, we offered him a job. He’s been with us for 14 years now, the longest of any of the Acorn Nuts.
The fine selection of clean, used books for the discerning buyer is the result of cleaning and repair by Norman . George uses the term “Norman-izing” for Norman ’s efforts to present the book so well. Norman also packs all of our Internet orders to be shipped. His care and skill in preparing the books for shipping is such that Acorn has received several compliments from satisfied customers.
“Darryl’s poetry has been known to fill one’s head with a collage of images that won’t quit. He can grab simple, common subjects and transform them into a “wake-up” that makes the reader thankful for not missing the light. His lines soak up the imagination and squeeze everything clean and sharp.. D.P. has a distinct voice that I believe everyone should hear.”–from a review in Small Press Review
“Darryl writes with the energy of the young poet. His images dart like flashes from a light show into the reader’s consciousness–images concerned with fire, air, water, and earth, the four elements of early Greek philosophers. But these are not formula poems that tediously explore the basis of chemistry. D.P.’s work vibrates. All of us are among the brushstrokes on a scintillating canvas of stars, flowers, and waves. The view is sharp and well-defined.” – from a review in The Green Fuse by Stella Worley
Darryl Price, author of THE FEROCIOUS SILENCE, has published dozens of chapbooks, and his poems have appeared in many journals. He is also the poetry editor at the Olentangy Review literary magazine.
Holding Your Light by Darryl Price(Pudding House)ISBN:1-58998-262-2
Favorite authors? Books?
Black Tickets by Jayne Anne Phillips
The Journal of Albion Moonlight by Kenneth Patchen
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Don Quixote by Cervantes
Bone by Jeff Smith
A Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man by James Joyce
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins
The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
The Captain’s Verses by Pablo Neruda
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Centaur by John Updike
Larry Marder’s Beanworld and anything by Scott McCloud
Landscape and Silence by Harold Pinter
Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Lost Pilot by James Tate
The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle
The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Sum-forty tales from the afterlives-David Eagleman
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Revenge of the Lawn by Richard Brautigan
Cool Richard Nash quote someone just sent me:”We are what we read, we are what we write, and we organize ourselves around and connect with one another through what we read and write.”
Musical interests include:
Laura Veirs,Rodriguez, The Avett Brothers, Matt Pond, Memoryhouse, Lightships, Guided By Voices, Portugal the Man, Archy Marshall, Cage the Elephant, Arctic Monkeys, The Beatles, Beach Boys, Buddy Holly, Black Keys, Laura Marling, Harry Nilsson, Vicki Peterson, Charlotte Caffey, Nirvana, Girls, Paul Simon, Bell Brigade, Yuck, Smiths, Joy Division, New Order, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Pixies, Nat King Cole, Cocteau Twins, They Might Be Giants, Prefab Sprout, Sam Cooke, Leonard Cohen, Lloyd Cole, Bob Dylan, Everything But The Girl, Spoon, Neko Case, Todd Rundgren, The Raveonettes, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, The Who, XTC, Tom Waits, Squeeze, Mew, Belle and Sebastian, Radiohead, Saint Etienne, Smokey Robinson, Sea Wolf, Echo and the Bunnymen, Nellie McKay, Psapp, Field Mice, The Sundays, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Neil Young, David Bowie, Camera Obscura, the Postmarks, Fleet Foxes, Modest Mouse, Miles Davis, It’s A Musical, Leonard Bernstein, Spiritualized, MGMT, Alex Lilly, Beck, Ben Folds, Billie Holiday, the Apples in Stereo, Elvis Costello, mu’m, Kurt Vile, etc.
“Sloop John B.” also known as “Johnny B. Goode” or any number of other aliases works with Jack-in-the-Back running our online inventory and sales. On occasion “Sloop” can also be found up front at the register. An avid reader from a young age turned book collector turned book scout turned book seller, “Johnny” has been dealing with books in some way or another for a decade. His areas of interest include theological aesthetics, Orthodox iconology, and books pertaining to classical music and film. John came to work at the Acorn Bookshop after years of patronage and friendship with our staff.
Biblio was my friendly, lovable blue-point Siamese who was on-staff for 13 years.He loved to stand on the counter and do his unique meet-and-greet. He passed to what T. S. Eliot called the “heavyside layer” in 2013, but we still get customers coming in and asking about him.
BIBLIO’S RECOMMENDED CAT WEBSITES
CAT COLONY (http://www.colonycats.org/)
A very good local cat rescue operation, based in Dublin. Linda and I adopted our Lucy Liu from them. One day we went in to PetPeople for catfood, and came out with a half-Siamese who had once been trailer-trash, living under a mobile home in southern Franklin County
BEST FRIENDS (http://www.bestfriends.org/)
They are the largest animal rescue operation in the country. Linda and I have visited their facility in Kanab, Utah, twice, the second time to volunteer a couple of days during our south-
SIAMESE RESCUE (http://va.siameserescue.org/)