Local readers crowd Brattle speaker

... super lecture, but readers overwhelm speaker for appraisals

from Don Norris

The program for the Melrose Historical Society for April centered on books -- old
books, used books, the sale of books, the value of books ... all of which was
delivered in an delightful 40-minute speech by no less than Kenneth Gloss, current
proprietor of the famous Brattle Book Store of Boston fame.

It was Mr. Gloss's late father who was the real hero of the evening, for it was he who
opened the store in downtown Boston almost a hundred years ago. Since that time (the
new Mr. Gross relates) the store has followed the modernization, the up-dating and
reconstruction of the old Boston to what it is today. There have been significant
changes, Mr. Gross noted.

Nevertheless, the Brattle Book Store moved when necessary, changed its address several
times, but never closed. Ironically, one of the best markets for readers was in used
books. There was money, they discovered, in the appraisal business.

His quips before the Historical Society group were frequent and to the point: his audience -- the largest turnout in recent history -- approved his keen sense of humor as well as his broad knowledge of what's valuable, what's readable, and what we should hang onto.

As soon as he finished his talk, a long line appeared -- patrons all holding a supply of old books they figured must be valuable.

The vast majority of material presented for his evaluation were, um, valuable to the owner -- but not to the public in general.

He told a story of a man who presented the priest with his family's Bible, and the cleric gently stored the donation in a small closet -- which was already full of the family Bibles of late parishioners.

It was an informative meeting.

May 3, 2013

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