A Novel Lime Squeeze! by Jeanne Barrett (March 14, 2011)
Congratulations to our Literary Lime Squeeze for March!
Meet Mom/Antiquarian Book Seller Chris Lowenstein – currently living her dream while delving deep into the past.
Chris Lowenstein has fostered a love for reading since childhood. She devoured books like Little House on the Prairie and Encyclopedia Brown mysteries. “I have always loved to read. When I was a child, in addition to the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, I liked The Borrowers and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. By 8th grade or so, I was really into Gone with the Wind. I loved it and read it two or three times,” shares Lowenstein.
Lowenstein went on to major in English at Santa Clara University. Her studies led her to a high school teaching job, where she taught English at Notre Dame High School in Belmont, CA. Lowenstein loved teaching the young women at Notre Dame, but when she became pregnant and had two children in 2.5 years, she and her husband, Jeff, decided she needed to stay home and raise her boys. “Besides teaching, there are meetings with the department and faculty that go long after 3pm. Grading papers and tests also takes time in the evenings and on weekends. I really wanted to find something where I could work from home, in order to be with my children,” explains Lowenstein.
While at home with her young boys, her mother gave her a book on the history of book collecting. “The gift sparked my interest. While reading the book, I realized this is something I wanted to do. It was completely me,” says Lowenstein. She started collecting books as a hobby. The more she collected, the more she realized this could be a business for her, once her children reached school ages.
In 2003, Lowenstein decided to set a goal. She wanted her dream to become a reality and recognized how well it would work with her life as a mom. “I spent four years reading about book collecting, researching book sellers, and becoming familiar with the whole process of collecting books – particularly antiquarian books. In 2007, I got a business license and started ‘Book Hunter’s Holiday’,” says Lowenstein. She goes on to explain, “An antiquarian book is a book that is collectible for any number of reasons: its rarity, its age, its desirability or demand for the book. The demand could either be for who wrote it first, who printed it first, or even something somebody remembers having as a child.” Lowenstein also shares that part of the fun of collecting is the thrill of the hunt. Sometimes a rare book is found at a local estate sale or a garage sale. She likens this to a find on the television show, “Antiques Roadshow.” It’s a thrill to find a gem at a low price, with great value.
Lowenstein’s story is inspirational to those who are thinking of starting a new career or opening a business of their passion. She suggests finding a mentor and learning as much as you can about a business, before jumping in. “I found another bookseller who became my mentor. And every summer I take a class to learn something new about my business. In ’07 it was an Antiquarian Book Seminar at Colorado College, in Colorado Springs, CO. In ’08, I attended California Rare Book School at UCLA. In ’09, I went for a week long course of Rare Book School at the University of Virginia,” says Lowenstein. She looked into scholarships and received them, to help offset costs. She only takes week-long courses, so the time away is not hard on her family. In order to share what she has learned, Lowenstein started a blog. She shares information about what she has learned with other potential booksellers and anyone interested in the business. “When I first started researching, I couldn’t find much information online. So I started a blog to share information with others. I wanted to be a resource for beginners in the business,” says Lowenstein.
As Lowenstein respects the history of rare books, she also reveres the history her own family has contributed to her passion for books. Her mother’s mother loved reading and gave up going to college in order to help support her family. Reading fulfilled that deep need for completing her education, and her grandmother stressed the importance of reading throughout her life. Her grandfather’s mother was an amateur artist. Shortly before her grandfather passed away, he gave Lowenstein a box of her items. “In the box were 30 different line drawings and watercolor paintings, done by my great-grandmother. I found one drawing of a Victorian-style girl with a large quill pen. I thought it fit for my logo and it was another way to incorporate my family. I wanted to share her drawing, as she never put her drawings up for sale,” says Lowenstein. That drawing of the girl with the large quill pen is now Lowenstein’s logo for her business.
Congratulations again to our Literary Lime Squeeze! She is achieving her goals and living her dreams, while encouraging others along the way.
If you would like to reach Chris Lowenstein, here is her information:
Book Hunter’s Holiday
3182 Campus Drive #205
San Mateo, CA 94403
Blog at: http://bookhuntersholiday.wordpress.com