Feb 29, 2020
"Heather O'Donnell grew up in the library stacks and bookstore aisles of suburban Delaware. In 1989, she moved to New York City, where she studied English at Columbia, and held down a series of bookish jobs on the side: working the cash register at the Strand, shelving photobooks in the Avery Library, sifting the slush pile at Grand Street. While writing her doctoral dissertation in the Yale English department, Heather worked as a curatorial assistant at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. In 2004 she left academia to pursue the rare book trade full-time. For seven years, she worked as a bookseller in the New York gallery of Bauman Rare Books. In the fall of 2011, she founded Honey & Wax Booksellers in Brooklyn. In 2017, she and Rebecca Romney established the annual Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize of $1000 for a young woman book collector."
We met at her office early one crisp October morning to talk about all of the above, plus Gertrude Stein, Henry James, completionists, bona fide collectors, publishers' bindings and women reading, the need for unusual distinctive inventory, the way core texts reach wider audiences, apprenticing, James Jaffe, and the valuable contribution collectors make to society.