minstrel: Opinions needed
linette at epix.net
Sun Jun 11 09:07:52 PDT 2000
Greetings from Linette de Gallardon!
I need some opinions - I hope I can find some here on the list ;)
I am investigating the possibility of adding a section of early music books
and music to my father's harp-making business. It seems to me that finding
quality books by reputable scholars on early music is rather hit-or-miss at
Pennsic, and I'd like to do something about that.
My questions are:
1. What sort of early music books do you usually buy, if any? For
example, analytical texts on early music, transcriptions into modern
notation, modern arrangements, performance practice, or related topics such
as lives of medieval musicians or discussions of the lyrics as literature?
2. Are you primarily interested in currently published books, or are old,
used, or out-of-print books also of interest?
3. What's your likely limit on price for a book on music? What if it's a
4. How many early music-related books do you purchase in a typical year?
Basically, I'm concerned that many if not most of the best books on early
music currently published start in price at $45 and go up from
there. There are some paperback editions out there, and of course I would
work at stocking those, and as well, as a merchant I could buy at wholesale
and hopefully pass on some savings to the customer. But I'm unsure whether
my own addiction and book-laden shelf has led me to believe erroneously
that there's a market in the SCA for good (but expensive) books on early music.
Furthermore, even if there is a market, it's possible that its need are
filled by the World Wide Web, which has opened up huge doors for
shoppers. If everyone who is interested in spending money on early music
books is already happily doing so on the Web, and wouldn't buy much from a
book vendor at Pennsic War, then it obviously my plan won't work out.
Another issue is that of used books. I've found some real gems at used
booksellers, and now you can buy used books from anywhere in the world off
of the web. If I purchased one sight-unseen, I'd be assuming the risk that
it wasn't a great book, and hope that someone would buy it eventually even
if that was true. An advantage is that used books tend to be cheaper - a
disadvantage is that I would not receive any kind of discount and so I'd
have to charge more than the retail price the original seller had asked.
My plan isn't especially to make money, though of course I don't plan to
lose money either I'm more concerned with creating a place where
semi-serious early musicians know they can look for books that interest
them. Although there are many fine booksellers in the SCA, none that I
know of stock more than a few early music books or sheet music. And I'm
not looking for any guarantees; I certainly understand that any retail
venture is risky. I'm just trying to gather some info to base my decisions on.
I currently already have relationships (of mutual satisfaction, I suspect,
given the amount of money I've spent ;) with several publishers including
Garland Publishing, Indiana University Press, Oxford University Press, all
of which publish lovely books on early music. I also plan to look into
MelBay Publishing (don't laugh, there might be something worthwhile there!)
and Dover Publishing, which unfortunately doesn't have a Web presence. If
anyone can think of other publishers who regular publish works of interest
to the Scadian musician, I'd certainly be interested in hearing about
them. Even if I don't start this little side-business. ;)
Anyway, I'd be interested in opinions on this entire venture, pro, con,
whatever. I'll be investigating for a while, and though I wish I'd begun
this train of thought several months ago, I didn't, and so I don't plan on
starting in time for this year's War. :(
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