Selling Books Along the Cedar River
Captain's Log: August 24, 2021
How we remember our past and what we learn from it are interesting topics. How humankind portrays and remembers its past changes. Historians study how our historical interpretations change over time. The history of history is called historiography (the study of historical writing). Not everyone learns from a book. There are various types of learners. Some are visual learners. Some learn by doing. I had the opportunity to meet with some military history reenactors this weekend.
Every third weekend in August, along the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, Iowa- the Second World War is remembered at Seminole Valley Farm Museum. Floods and COVID make the tradition a bit difficult, but this year on the 21st – 22nd of August a group of military reenactors assembled and encamped along the Cedar River. Many in the group are historical purists, meaning they still read books. Thus, I set up an awning and sold a fair number of books about Allied and Axis airpower. The United States Army Air Corps remains an item of interest by many. Most of the vendors camped onsite using equipment from that time. I opted for the Red Ball Express back home to re-provision for the next day.
Generally, book dealers prefer to set up in climate controlled buildings. Rare books don’t mix well with humidity, rain, fierce winds, or when all that clears- the blazing sun. As a Soldier, I used to jump out of airplanes, so I enjoy a bit of risk. Picking the right books that would potentially face some adverse elements was indeed a challenge. Watching the weather for the event was like planning for the D Day airborne drop and sea invasion at low tide with full moon. The Friday night rainstorm dissipated to a drizzle when the event kicked off on Saturday. There was a slight, drizzling rain on Saturday morning as I unpacked the initial wave of books. The weather eventually cleared and the humidity became like the tropics. I watched a Steven Ambrose softbound book BAND OF BROTHERS cover curl due to the humidity. That book was the only casualty due to weather.
There were exceptions to the weekend buying trend, but generally: veterans bought thick university press books. They were interested in the details. The majority of buyers were interested in the technology of the Second World War (air power). Entire libraries can be filled on the pros/cons, advantages/disadvantages of air power. On this humid weekend, the majority was most interested in the books about the United States Army Air Corps that contained photos and colored paintings. U.S. airpower was profitable.
I specialize in books that focus on conflict resolution. I have history about how conflict starts, is fought and on rare occasion is resolved. My showroom in Iowa City is small. If you call a few days before you visit, I can pull the topics that you are interested in out of my warehouse. I deal mainly in military history published by a university press.
The reenactor events throughout the day were educational and fun for all concerned.
The bad guys controlled and patrolled through the area. Whenever they showed up, the civilians dispersed. Local partisans were skilled at ambushing the occupiers. Once the skirmishes were over, the buyers would flock to Captain's Book to acquire some treasure before the next round.
It was a fun event and great way to advertise a portion of the types of subject matter that I specialize. I also sold some science fiction, which probably explains the time portal and the US Soldiers from the Vietnam War era.
If you have a lead on some interesting books, don't hesitate to contact me.
Captain's Book Shoppe LLC
1570 1st Ave South, Suite H
Iowa City, Iowa 52240
Phone: (319) 351-3166
Local KCRG TV News Link to the event: World War 2 Remembered (kcrg.com)