According to the Myers-Briggs personality test, I am suited to be a bookstore owner. Incidentally, I have recently found myself thinking a lot about working in the book trade, or any profession revolving around books for that matter, and decided to volunteer at the Housing Works bookstore café.
Obviously, whoever wants to run a bookstore these days has to come to terms with the fact that buying a book is no longer as much about browsing shelves as browsing the internet. Online sales pose a great challenge to traditional bookstores, and one can hardly overestimate the extent to which the world wide web has changed the nature of book dealing. I must confess I purchased a book online only once and know next to nothing about online book trading. However, I assume that the basic principles of supply and demand and the dynamics of collecting still apply, and that the classical virtues of the book dealer — a keen eye for value, entrepreneurship, networking, a practical business sense coupled with a passion for books, etc. — continue to be essential, and so I listened with interest to an interview by Nigel Beale with Robert Rulan-Miller, an antiquarian book dealer who has been in the book dealing business for quite some time and has to offer some first-hand experience as well as some hints for the young collector.