Featured Bookseller: Harvey Wolf and Barbara Nailler

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biography

Barbara Nailler and Harvey Wolf Operating from St. Augustine, Florida, Wolf's Head Books is owned by Harvey Wolf and Barbara Nailler. Harvey, a former West Point cadet says he was "rudely kicked out, for cause -- boy were they right." He has worked as a scientist in the aerospace industry and as a professor before settling on the book industry. Barbara, no slouch herself, is also a former professor and a metalhead at heart, favoring the likes of Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, and UFO.


q & a

How did you get started?
We were both collectors from the days we had to hide from our various parents by reading with flashlights after lights were out! Forty years later, after meeting in Morgantown, West Virginia, we started to buy collections and wholesale them, by subject, while we were professors in West Virginia schools. When our large old house threatened to collapse from the weight of the books and we had only an alley through the living room, we knew that something had to give. It was Barbara's teaching job. We opened our first store using the collections stored in the house on July 24, 1980.

By 1985 we knew we wanted to move to warmer climes, so we started a long hunt for the perfect location for our antiquarian bookstore and our hedonistic bodies (warm-water ocean and no snow). Luckily, we found heaven on earth in beautiful St. Augustine, Florida. We opened our showroom here in October 1988 and have been in paradise ever since.

If you weren't selling books, what would you be doing?
Over 20 years ago, we decided being booksellers was a great occupation for our retirement years. However, it became much more fun than teaching, so we didn't wait till then. Neither of us can possibly imagine any other career at this time, though we might like to play a little more bridge.

Name 5 people, living or dead, you would invite to a dinner party.
Harvey: Einstein, my mother (Rosalind), Judas, Hendrik Van Loon, Barbara.
Barbara: Mrs. E.D.E.N. Southworth, Gene Stratton Porter, Ernest Holmes, Ellie Smeal, and Lillian Waugh.

What children's fiction character should rule our country?
Harvey: Peter of the wolf fame. He's brave, enlists assistance, acts, and knows how to behave.
Barbara: Dr. Doolittle. He has great empathy with animals of the world and could transfer it to people.

Contact Barbara Nailler and Harvey Wolf:
Wolf's Head Books, Inc.
48 San Marco Avenue
St. Augustine, FL 32084
Phone: 904-824-9357
Fax: 904-824-2212
E-mail: wolfhead@aug.com
Specialties: Military, Regional Americana, Florida History/Fiction, Juveniles, Signed Books, Letters, Documents and Ephemera

article

Collecting Children's Books Primer—Putting together a collection of children's books seems to be a lot of fun. Over the 20 years we have dealt in them, we've had many interesting conversations with collectors, most of whom are adults, 30 years and over. Generally, collectors fall into two categories: those who remember their favorite childhood book characters and those who prefer something unusual about the books, such as illustrations, size, shape, or topic....[More]

barbara's recommendations

Tales You Won't Believe Tales You Won't Believe by Gene Stratton Porter - I am especially fond of the story "Courting Cecropias."

The Hidden Hand by Mrs. E.D.E.N. Southworth - Anything by Mrs. E.D.E. N. Southworth. Nearly all her books (120) use the same formula: there are rich people and poor people, good people and bad people. In the end, the good people are always rich and the bad people are always poor!

 

harvey's recommendations

Lives by Hendrik Van Loon - The classic Van Loon, mixing some good history with his original drawings, some fantasy, and a lively sense of humor. The concept of the book was taken by Steve Allen for his series "You Are There."

Alexandria Quartet The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell - This Quartet contains the most fantastic use of the English language I have ever read. Add to that the concept of the Rashomon tale for a great mix. For each teller, the language, meter, and style change.

Enders Game Speaker for the Dead

Enders Game and Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card - The best modern science fiction around. A truly exceptional story.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban The Harry Potter Trilogy by J. K. Rowling - Yes, yes I know. Every adult life needs a good jolt of fantasy.