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Priscilla

Marian L. Gore, antiquarian bookseller

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LA Times obituary

Back in the 1980s and 1990s I bought many books from Marian L. Gore... including many if not all the M.F.K. Fisher first editions on my shelf.

She was always unfailingly kind, and spoke in that patrician manner, an accent, really, of Southern California women of her time and station. Her little handmade catalogues were a joy to find in the mailbox, second only to the joy of receiving the actual book.

Difficult to overemphasize how, in the dark days pre-internet, what a lifeline a knowledgeable specialist bookseller could be.

Her daughter provided this recipe for Persimmon Pudding to the Times, calling it her mother's piece de resistance. I just happen to have 3 nice Hachiyas ripening on my counter; now I know their destiny.


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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Thank you for a moving and evocative tribute, Priscilla.

Difficult to overemphasize how, in the dark days pre-internet, what a lifeline a knowledgeable specialist bookseller could be.

My own experience is that the value of those booksellers hasn't shrunk much, though I'm thinking specifically of less-well-known books, and the "knowledgeable" part above. (Much of the useful, revealing, or cool information I see on food-related subjects even in recent years is not online, nor are the sources even mentioned online -- they're older books or print media, "out of print" but available, if you seek them out.)

We were fortunate also in my region to have a large and old US cookbook collection, contents available for purchase (for 50 years or so -- by direct contact, not online; general used booksellers around the US referred people to it). Gone now, the owner retired (when we last spoke, she was in good health). Undoubtedly knew Marian Gore.

Where I've noticed the Internet help so much with out-of-print books -- once you know what you're looking for, that is -- is that all the small sellers and collections pool via online clearing houses (abebooks, alibris, amazon marketplace, etc.). Ending the longtime ritual of having to place a cheap line advertisement in a book-trade weekly, and wait months to see if any seller spotted the ad and had the book -- often not. Now it takes seconds.

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Max, thank you.

What is the name of the Bay Area bookseller? I wonder if I bought from her. There was a person in the East Bay, seems to me... maybe I'll run across an invoice in a book.

I love the ease with which a book can be found online... esp. since it's not like my book-buying habit has waned. I like the less-personal aspect of it, even, since many books one buys are just reading copies. But you know how nice it is to deal with someone who knows a LOT.


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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What is the name of the Bay Area bookseller?

The former Connie's Cookbooks, Palo Alto. (a.k.a. "the cookbook lady" to general used-book sellers in the region.) Five-digit inventory, specialty was US cookbooks. (Obsolete listings of the business still surface, but Connie and her husband moved some years ago to a much smaller home, and liquidated the collection in bulk. At the time, I helped publicize the sale in a few places online.) It had been in a large house, and as Connie's children grew and moved out over the years, their rooms were commandeered. (The garage, naturally, held no vehicles but instead the "odds and ends:" many copies of full sets like the Time-Life series, and common used titles assigned by cooking schools to their students, referred to Connie as a source.)

Connie had some pithy comments over the years, in published interviews. For example, about how very few if any recipes published today are actually new (she had a rare perspective on that, from the number of cookbooks she'd seen). She once fielded a request, for a grand food-world event, to find six copies of the Rombauers' true original Joy of Cooking -- the fundraiser family recipe collection based on canned foods. She had handled them before. Response: First, that will cost some three hundred thousand dollars at current market prices, if I can find six. Second, it's a ratty-looking amateurish book, carelessly bound, all the extant copies are falling apart, the content is embarrassing compared to later editions of the title -- in short it may not be the gift you had in mind for your distinguished guests. (Event organizers changed their plans.)

In my experience reading/using interesting food books, once you go beyond the titles that everyone currently mentions (like Julia Child's or James Beard's), there are two basic issues: Knowing about the books, and getting them. The Internet has helped a lot with the getting, but only slightly with the knowing-about. These specialist book dealers were helpful for both.

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