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Thrill of the chase keeps bookseller going

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Summer is a time to travel, camp, canoe, go the beach and read. A friend of mine devours mysteries in between lake swims. He says he doesn’t read much the rest of the year.

Some children may be in the reverse situation. If you can keep them reading most of the summer they may find September’s new school year a smooth transition. There are so many children’s books at Nerman’s Books and Collectibles on Osborne Street — 20,000, in fact — that finding a book you like is easy.

"We have the largest selection of used and vintage children’s books probably in the world," Gary Nerman says.

 Altogether, over 100,000 books, magazines and comics, for both adults and children, are for sale at Nerman’s and listed on the Internet. Adult readers can enjoy one of the best science fiction and fantasy sections in town.

Graphic novels, literature, books on movies and rock ’n’ roll music, mysteries and adventure books and local histories fill many of Nerman’s shelves. The average book costs $4. Bargain books go for $1, while vintage or collectible books can cost up to $300.

Nerman did not always have this life, buying and selling books and collectibles. He was an interior designer and travelling salesman specializing in commercial carpeting. While on holiday in North Dakota with his family, Nerman’s kids spotted a Dungeons and Dragons store. While they went in, he wandered into the used bookstore next door. He walked out a few Whitmans — children’s books from the ’50s — in his arms.

"I started collecting them," Nerman said. "Before I knew it I had 400."

Nerman decided to sell the Whitmans. But people preferred Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew collections. So Nerman started buying those books during his working visits to various cities.

Those were pre-Internet days. Nerman advertised his finds in fanzines directed at Hardy Boys collectors and other trade publications.

The hobby grew, became a business, and Nerman decided to devote himself to it full time.

He followed the advice of a book put out by the Canadian Booksellers Association.

"The first page said, ‘If you’re going to make it you can’t just sell books,’ Nerman said. "So I took that to heart and it’s a good thing I have because everything helps."

Vintage furniture for adults and children and collectible toys are also part of Nerman’s diversification.

People bring books and other items to Nerman’s for sale or trade. On a larger scale, some people sell a personal or estate library to the store.

"The only reason anyone is in the collecting business is because it’s a hunt. You live to find that treasure," said Nerman.

Nerman’s Books & Collectibles is located at 700 Osborne St. Visit online at www.nermansbooks.com

Dianne Doney is a community correspondent for Fort Rouge. You can contact her at diannemary@hotmail.com.

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