The Road Home
You can take the books out of the shop but you can't take the man out of his books.
By Bruce McKinney
Michael Good of Michael D. Good Books, at 67, is cleaning up the debris and parsing the accumulated inventory born of a thousand buys made for his San Anselmo shop since 1981. After 23 years at 35 San Anselmo Avenue, 30 minutes north of San Francisco, he and his wife Sandra, an established bookbinder, are closing their shop and moving their businesses into their home. Thus closes a chapter but not the book on Michael and Sandra Good. Mr. Good has been in the book trade for almost 40 years while Sandra has been a binder for about 20. The move, while only a few miles as measured by the odometer, is a move from a traditional retail environment into the electronically connected world of bookselling conducted from home. For the Goods it is a step away without being a step out. The schedule will be less demanding and permit them to remain active in a less committed way.
Moving the business into a smaller space requires Mr. Good to sell a significant portion of his inventory. To do this he has removed the material that is making the trip home. All else becomes available, on a first come first serve basis, on December 1st at one half of the prices he has written into the inside back pages - in many cases years ago. All material in the store, with the exception of some reference books, is available on this basis. For those who love books and who also love a bargain this opportunity requires immediate action. Sales every day will reduce the available supply. Those interested should call Mr. Good for a description of what continues to be available. The shop will close on December 31st.
Here briefly are the categories available: the humanities including literature, art, general history, European and American history, California and Western Americana. There is also a selection of Russian technical books published in the 1940's through 1960's.
Mr. Good arrived from Phoenix in 1965 and found a job with the Holmes Book Store in Oakland and in time became manager of their San Francisco store. In 1972 he went to work for Warren Howell, the legendary and prone to-be-tough book dealer. Mr. Howell was a demanding boss who oversaw a rare combination of employees who in time emerged as many of the leading book dealers on the west coast. They include, in addition to Mr. Good, Dorothy Sloan, John Windle, Ron Randall, Jeffrey Thomas, Jeremy Norman, Michael Horowitz and David Forbes as well as Jennifer Larson who has written about books and is, with her husband Jeffrey H. Marx, in the book business.
The Road Home
Sandy's bindery has been in a wonderful sunlit space.
In 1981 Mr. Good opened the San Anselmo shop and by the end of the decade his wife, Sandra was repairing bindings one floor up. For Mr. Good it was a traditional form of book selling. Initially he issued catalogues and mimeographed sheets but in time found his rhythm in selling material mostly to people who visited the shop. His was not a catalogue based business.
I asked Michael for a memory of an important book he had handled. He spoke of a heavy set of books that contained original watercolors by Kate Greenaway. In time he learned that the Toronto Public Library was an active buyer of English children's material. Eventually he carried the entire set, of four volumes totaling about seventy-five pounds, with him on a flight to Toronto where a transaction was completed. Today these watercolors are part of their permanent collection.
In the 1990s Mr. Good was slow to accept the internet as a selling alternative but he did in time make the transition to online selling. Today a significant portion of his sales come from the internet and it is a factor in their decision to decamp for a lower key home based business. For many of Mr. Good's customers online, he's not moving at all.
For Sandra, the decision to join Michael in the related trade, book binding, began in the 1980s when she signed-up for a course then taught by Bob Lucas at San Francisco State. In time she developed the experience and confidence to accept customer projects. In moving into semi-retirement after two decades, she'll continue to be active for many years to come.
During December the hours are Monday to Saturday 10 to 5. For those wishing to obtain an online map here are the particulars for Map Quest.
Michael D. Good Books
35 San Anselmo Avenue
San Anselmo, California 94960
Hours: Monday through Saturday 10 to 5