, the proprietor of the Brattle Book Shop.
SHREWSBURY — Kenneth Gloss might as well have been born in a library.
He spent much of his childhood working at the one of the nation's oldest bookstores, the 1825-founded Brattle Book Shop in Boston, which his parents took over in 1949.
even been told his
first word was "book".
Now the proprietor of the historic shop, Mr. Gloss
has become one of New England's foremost appraisers and sellers of rare books.
He is a past president of the New England Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, he often appraises books for many of Massachusetts' college libraries, and he has appeared regularly on PBS' "Antiques Roadshow" for the past 13 years.
On Wednesday, March 28, Mr. Gloss
will visit the Shrewsbury Public Library
for a free lecture and he
encourages attendees to bring any and all books they want evaluated.
"Everybody's wondering what do they have, how much is it worth," said Mr. Gloss
"Most times, there are one or two people who actually do have something really good."
What are some of the best he's
has appraised a copy of "The Great Gatsby" inscribed to T.S. Elliot, who annotated every page.
"Every once in a while, someone brings something in really valuable," said Mr. Gloss
, before relating a story of a woman in Dover who brought in a box filled with old papers.
"Some of them were interesting, and then we pulled one out and it said, 'A Declaration of Independence.'"
That item, worth about $250,000, was a copy, written shortly after the original document.
Though high prices garner the most attention, Mr. Gloss
is quick to point out that not all treasures fetch big price tags and for many collectors, the joy is in the search.
"You can go out and collect things for a dollar or two," he
"A lot of the fun of collecting isn't necessarily finding the item, it's the hunt.
I've known customers who have been hunting for items 30, 40, 50 years and they find them and it's almost disappointing."
has been in the rare books business since he
decided not to pursue a career in chemistry 35 years ago.
In that time he's
seen a variety of changes within the industry.
For instance, Mr. Gloss
said that at their height, chain stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders may have hurt small, local bookshops.
But in recent years, as those larger stores have struggled, he
has been encouraged to see a bit of a renaissance of smaller bookstores.
Technology has also impacted the book selling business.
noted the influence of the Internet, with its powerful information-sharing capabilities.
The web provides a simpler and more efficient way to sell used-books, which he
said has made it difficult for many local used-bookstores.
Many books once thought to be rare were actually just hard to find.
According to Mr. Gloss
, the Internet has exposed many pretenders and accordingly, the value of the truly rare items has soared.
also noted the potential impact of e-readers like Amazon's Kindle.
"There are no used books," said Mr. Gloss
, admitting that he
"So 20 years from now, 30 years from now where are the used books going to come from if [e-books] take over the world."
At the event in Shrewsbury, Mr. Gloss
will bring samples from Brattle's private collection including a brochure for the Titanic, a 1912 World Series scorecard and old copies of LIFE Magazine
will give a lecture, answer questions and give free verbal appraisals of books people bring.
"Just about every day of the week, we're going out to houses and estates -- into attics and cellars and basements," said Mr. Gloss
, explaining that he
visits houses of all types.
"Sometimes the little shacks have the best books and the Newport mansions have decoration -- the books aren't that good.
That's why I love it and that's why it's fun.
And that's why people are also wondering what's in their attic or basement."
If anyone is interested, but unable to attend, Mr. Gloss
provides appraisals at the Brattle Book Shop
, located at 9 West St. in the Downtown Crossing section of Boston from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
For more information visit www.brattlebookshop.com or call 617-542-0210.