I buy, research, catalog and sell rare books for a living.
To answer your first question: no, I didn’t know that such a job existed, either. I stumbled upon it entirely by accident.
My background is in Linguistics and Classical Studies. If I had known being a rare book dealer was a thing people can actually do, I would have set my sights on the goal from the beginning. But, in life’s funny way, it turned out that I was unknowingly preparing myself for my future profession through immersion in the language, history, and literature of civilizations ranging from the ancient Greeks and Romans to modern Japan.
I would have laughed at you if you had told me I would end up handling first editions of many of the most precious texts humanity has created.
I found Bauman Rare Books by chance, although perhaps chance isn’t the best way to put it: Bauman has long been known in the rare book world for their ads in the back of the New York Times Book Review, and for their galleries in the Waldorf-Astoria and on Madison Avenue. David and Natalie took me under their wing. With over forty years of experience selling rare books, engravings, lithographs, ephemera, photogravures—essentially, any piece of history in the world of print—the Baumans and their veteran employees taught me the tricks of the trade. I was Seneca’s definition of lucky: preparation meeting opportunity.
I was promoted to manager of the Las Vegas gallery of Bauman Rare Books in 2010, and in 2011 Rick Harrison approached me to appear on his show, the History Channel’s hit Pawn Stars, as one of the regular experts (and the only regular female expert). Since then I have appeared in around 60 episodes, evaluating rare books with advice for purchase by the shop.
In 2014 I moved to Philadelphia to work directly with Natalie Bauman in overseeing the central operations of Bauman Rare Books. Then, in 2016, I left Bauman to pursue other projects, including a podcast called Biblioclast, which I produce with the author JP Romney.
Over the summer of 2016, I hooked up with Honey & Wax, which was founded by a friend and former colleague of mine, Heather O’Donnell. You can read more about this collaboration here.
In March of 2017, HarperCollins will be publishing my book, Printer’s Error: Irreverent Stories from Book History, which I wrote with JP Romney. You can read more about this publication and where to pre-order here.
Despite my reputation for wearing suits into the pawn shop, you’re as likely to hear me quote Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure as Moby Dick. I love many classic books, but I also whirl into my own personal insanities, especially in science fiction or fantasy.
If you’re looking for advice on how to figure out how much your books are worth, I’ve created an information page for you here.
Besides my appearances on Pawn Stars, I regularly speak at events related to books, collecting, preserving history, and encouraging literacy. If you would like to inquire about booking for a professional speaking engagement, please contact me using the form below.
If you are looking to buy or sell a valuable book, you can also contact me using the contact form below.
Thanks for reading.