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Brattlecast #55 - Casey at the Bat

From baseball tragedy to book shop treasure, we’re taking a look at the journey of Casey at the Bat. The poem, first printed in the San Francisco Examiner in 1888, was popularized in vaudeville, and, in 1901, published in the very valuable first edition here in the studio with us today. It has since been reprinted hundreds of times, and remains enduringly popular with collectors of both literature and baseball memorabilia. Ken talks about this and a variety of other home-run hits of baseball...


Brattlecast #54 - How to Start a Book Shop

So you want to start a book shop. Good! Ken’s not afraid of the competition; he’ll even encourage you. He wishes every building on his street would house a different independent book shop. He’s a proponent of idiosyncratic small businesses as an antidote to the bland, big-box sameness that plagues most American cities. So what advice would Kenneth Gloss, with his years of experience, impart to the neophyte bookseller? It’s simple: just be in great physical shape, and know everything.


Brattlecast #53 - Objectionable Material

The past is a nightmare, we can’t erase it. It’s important to preserve historical documents, to make them available, and to let them teach us the terrible lessons of history. But, as a bookseller, what do you do when the contents of these documents are truly vile? Is it ethical to make a profit by selling a photograph of the victims of Nazi concentration camps? Or to keep a book on bomb making in circulation? And should you eschew the controversial novels of today when they tend to become...


Brattlecast #52 - Celluloid Heroes

On this week's Brattlecast we're talking photoplays: souvenir books that were created to promote classic films during the golden age of Hollywood. They made them for King Kong, The Sheik, and even Moby Dick. So, which is better, the book or the movie? Ken weighs in on a particularly contentious case.


Brattlecast #51 - The Camino Island Saga

Ken receives a popular new novel as a birthday gift. Much to his dismay he finds an evil twin lurking in its pages. The book contains a character who is nearly identical to him, but with some sinister variations. Ken is an honest, well respected bookseller and his shop is thriving; his fictional doppelgänger is the criminally unethical proprietor of a failing book shop on the very same Boston street. An edge-of-your-seat legal thriller ensues as Ken tries to solve the mystery of why...


Brattlecast #50 - Books to the Future

What does the future hold for brick and mortar book shops? Things are looking bright! As the internet has decimated big box book retailers, small independent book shops have reemerged as vital community spaces. These shops offer the author readings and events, fortuitous browsing discoveries, and simple human interactions that you just can't find online. So what's the greatest threat to modern booksellers? It isn't the Kindle: it's the rising rents.


Brattlecast #49 - Space is the Place

You’ll be over the moon for this extraterrestrial episode. Ken talks about collecting items relating to the Space Race, in a journey from sci-fi paperbacks and 1960s newspapers to real Russian space suits and million dollar moon rocks. It’s out of this world!


Brattlecast #48 - Africa

A family wedding in Kenya inspires Ken to start reading about Africa-and thinking about the book collections that could be made up of works about this vast and varied continent. From the early exploration narratives of the 1700's to the novels of Ernest Hemingway and Isak Dinesen, the possibilities are almost as diverse as Africa is.


Brattlecast #47 - Books by the Foot

Books! They're not just for reading. They can lend atmosphere to a bar or hotel lobby, make your living room seem smarter, and even be hollowed out in order to contain a tiny gun. In this episode Ken talks about decorating with books: books as silent conveyors of knowledge and safety, books as status symbols, and even books as movie set decor (books from the Brattle have made cameos in a few famous films). Whether it’s 6,000 red books or a single exquisite leather-bound volume, books really...


Brattlecast #46 - Ken's Lectures

Did you know that Ken gives entertaining and informative talks about old books at libraries and historical societies all across New England? And then after the lecture he’ll stay to do free appraisals of the attendee's potential treasures? Check out Ken's schedule here to find out when he'll be in your neighborhood and listen to this episode to learn more about his public speaking career.


Brattlecast #45 - John Ledyard's Voyages

He voyaged with Captain Cook, escaped from college via canoe, and attempted to walk across Russia. But, most importantly for our purposes, he also wrote a plain looking, easily discarded book, some volumes of which contain an extremely valuable map. He's John Ledyard, the most interesting New England character you've never heard of and the author of Captain Cook's Voyages, the book we should all be scouring yard sales for!


Brattlecast #44 - Boston Latin

Founded in 1635, Boston Latin School is the oldest public school in the United States, and boasts many famous graduates, including Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, and Leonard Bernstein. One could build a collection consisting entirely of works by and about its illustrious alumni, as Ken suggests to one of his former Boston Latin classmates during a seemingly fairly raucous high school reunion. Plus, some tips on insuring your own rare book collection.


Brattlecast #43 - Alcatraz and Architecture

Ken goes over a variety of unusual items from his unique and lovely book shop, and reviews recent finds and adventures from his never ending book treasure hunt. We'll talk old-time turkey recipes, Victorian social media platforms, and a book that escaped from Alcatraz! Plus, The Brattle Book Shop has been featured in Architectural Digest; check it out here:


Brattlecast #42 - 23 Questions

What makes a book valuable? Is it age? Scarcity? How old is an old book? Which souvenir reprints consistently trick people into thinking they've got a million dollar antique on their hands? Are public libraries good? What unassuming volume does Ken ravenously hunger and thirst for? If I spill a glass of fruit punch on my book, is it cool to dry it off in the microwave? Answers to most of these questions and more, from Ken and a little pamphlet called 'Your Old Books'.


Brattlecast #41 - The Boxing Collection

Go a few rounds with Ken as he discusses some of the champions from a large collection of boxing books and magazine. It's a knock out exploration of the history of the sport, from the bare knuckles and unitards of the early 1800's to Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. We'll also look at boxing in popular culture, including 'On the Waterfront' and (of course) 'Rocky'.


Brattlecast #40 - 1968

It was a year of violent upheaval and exuberant social change: 1968. Ken takes us there through a unique collection of books, letters, photographs, magazines, newspapers, and more, all to do with this tumultuous time in American history. It's a great example of an unusual collecting style but also an eerie and inspiring mirror of our present moment.


Brattlecast #39 - Everything and the Kitchen Sink

They took advantage of improved communications technology to sell a plethora of affordable goods to consumers across the United States, put local merchants out of business, and opened scores of enormous distribution centers. Sound familiar? It's not who you think, unless you’re thinking of Sears and Roebuck. We've got their old catalogs, which today serve as a nostalgic time capsule and a beautifully illustrated guide to the economic history of the average American.


Brattlecast #38 - Map Quest

Watch history unfold through some rare and collectible maps. Join Ken as he guides us on a journey through Boston's past, from George Washington's arrival on Washington Street to real estate sales in a trendy new neighborhood called the Back Bay. Find yourself in this week's Brattlecast.


Brattlecast #37 - Journal Journey

Ken talks handwritten journals and letters: what makes them valuable and how his team at the shop goes about researching them. We'll delve into a Caribbean voyage with a magical conclusion and a utopian community in bucolic West Roxbury, with a side trip to a certain famously far out festival of the late 1960's. Learn whether your journal might also have the 'write' stuff on this week's #brattlecast, an episode to write home about!


Brattlecast #36 - The Treasure Hunt

What goes through Ken's mind while he's doing his favorite thing (buying books)? This episode is all about the Brattle's buying process, from the first phone call to the packing and hauling. Learn why it's not very helpful to describe your collection as 'both fiction and nonfiction' and why flights of stairs are the bookseller's natural enemy. Also, for any Boston accent aficionados who may be listening, we have a delightful discussion of parking.