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A Book Clerk at Fifteen- Why and How this Volume was Written-Early Business Career-Becomes Book Publisher-Origin of Bancroft's California Bookstore-Author's Removal to New York-Continues a successful Book Publisher-The Book Publisher's Festival-United States Agent for Paris Exposition-The Century Club-Commodore Vanderbilt's Steamship-William Orton and other Friends.


N the 10th of September, 1883, occurred the fiftieth anniversary of the day on which I was apprenticed to the bookselling business. Fifty years before, I had entered the bookstore of H. Ivison & Co., of Auburn, N. Y., to learn the business, for which I had a natural liking and in which I have been engaged to the present time.

It had been my purpose, at the suggestion of my children, to collect and place in order the numerous data and memoranda accumulated during my long and not uneventful life in the book world, that they would have what gratification and possible aid, my experience, through two busy generations might afford. My plan was to take advantage of the perfection attained in stenography and by the use of the type-writer give each of my children a copy of my reminiscences.

In the progress of my labor of love I submitted my manuscript to some of my most intimate friends, who insisted on a multiplication of copies beyond the province of the active type-writer. Added to this, my friend Carleton became so interested in the matter that he begged that he might publish the work in book form, and the

result is the issue of this volume of my Recollections and Experiences. Thus an old Publisher makes his maiden bow to the public as an Author!

Auburn, as I recollect it, was an incorporated village of about five thousand inhabitants, and the bookstores consequently were not on a very large scale. Our store was well appointed, with a fair assortment of miscellaneous books and stationery, to which was added a bookbindery in the rear.

Although it was originally intended that I should also learn the bookbinder's trade, my employer soon ascertained that I "couldn't bind worth a cent," but was better adapted to wait on customers in the store-to sell books rather than to bind them. About four months later he wrote my mother as follows:

"To Mrs. DERBY :

"Auburn, Jan. 4th, 1834.

"Your son James has been with us a sufficient length of time, for him to determine whether he will be satisfied with the book business, and whether he will be sufficiently fond of it to warrant him in pursuing it. We are of opinion that if a boy is attached to his business he will invariably succeed, provided he has health and opportunities; if he is indifferent he never will succeed. As far as I have conversed with James he appears to think that he will be satisfied, and I am happy in saying that I have no cause for complaint in relation to him. With exertions which he has it in his power to make, he bids fair to become a useful man. It remains for you to determine whether he will still continue with us. We can arrange hereafter in relation to the terms.*

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Fifty years later Mr. Ivison writes me as follows:


"12 West 48th Street, New York, Jan. 16, 1884.

"I return the letters and papers much as you left them. You see I do not improve in my handwriting; that of yours is excellent. I wish you every success with your enterprise.



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