A tiny haul from our latest trip
5 February, 2019

Our tiny haul from a major international trip……

Quality over quantity this time :) You are, as always, welcome to come check them out!

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Books damaged in transit
4 April, 2018

This is not at all a new story but I am just sharing the story for posterity’s sake. And while there is a tiny part of me that is still bitter about the whole experience, I’m basically now over it. In retrospect I’d also say this was also a learning opportunity and I won’t make the same mistakes with my next move.

The sucky bullet points:
I don’t know what the worst part of this whole thing was:
1) That I paid significantly more money for insurance, which required “professionals” to do the packing;
2) That the “professionals” rudely rebuffed my requests to be please careful with my precious books;
3) That numerous books were significantly damaged in shipping; or
4) That in the end I wasn’t able to even make an insurance claim.

Well, clearly these all suck, but #3 is the worst. Ideally nothing would have been damaged in the first place.

The full story:
I relocated from Berlin to Mumbai on October 1st, 2014 and I brought a small selection my favorite possessions with me. After 7 years in Germany I had acquired a massive amount of stuff. Some of that got packed, a small fraction was sold, and most was just given away. I ended up carrying 3 bags with me on the plane and had 50 boxes of other items shipped by sea – about half of which were books. All the things I had shipped were personally very special/valuable (many irreplaceable) and therefore it was an easy decision take out full insurance for the shipment. Part of the insurance’s requirement was that the moving company must to do the packing – the idea is they are the experts and they will do it properly.

Unfortunately, the brutes that were sent to do the packing were anything but careful with my books. I was only allowed to tell what to pack or not, but I could not help. On several occasions I politely requested they be more careful with my books, letting them know how many are quite valuable, and they snapped back saying things like “we know what we are doing” and “stop telling us how to do our job.”

Aside from the rough handling of the books, I was actually trusting that the packers did in fact know how to safely pack everything. So I basically just left them to pack the bookshelves, and I focused on sorting all the other things that should stay or go.

Three and a half months later my shipment arrived to Mumbai at the end of December. Kimya and I had already assembled a massive new shelving system and were eager to begin unpacking the boxes. To our dismay, you can see what we found when we cut everything open. Every box looked like these few shown above. The photos here illustrate only a fraction of the problems, but at least not all books were damaged. Some of the bends and deformations were able to be pressed out, and after a few days or weeks the books many were somewhat better. But dozens more are still permanently damaged, many quite seriously.

The problems got magnified when I tried to contact the shipping company to make a claim. We exchanged numerous emails and I had to make several calls to them back in Germany. For a few weeks they tried to simply say that I didn’t have insurance. Eventually they acknowledged I did in fact have insurance but that I couldn’t make a claim. Many weeks went by and different excuses were given – none of which had merit. Finally in the end, they cited a specific page of one of the contracts, (oddly enough I didn’t have a copy of this page, but I had copies of everything except this one), and it said the claim must be made within 2 weeks of delivery. Because of the shipment’s delay (by over a month), it arrived only two days before my parents were coming for their first visit to India – for our wedding. Once they were there, we were occupied with hosting duties, last minute wedding preparations, our huge Indian wedding, and a brief honeymoon. When we returned, we immediately emailed the shipping company, 15 days after getting the shipment; i.e. 1 day late too late. The terrible cherry on top was just how rude and uncaring the shipping company was. Not only did they give me a run around for weeks, using any excuse they could, they never had any sympathy or apology for any damage caused. They were absolutely the rudest and most uncaring company I’ve ever worked with. If you are moving in or from Germany, let me know and I’ll be happy to not recommend them to you!

P.S.— A draft of this post has been sitting around for years, but it’s finally been published because new moving plans are again forming. More on this soon. For now I’ll just say that we will be packing the books ourselves this time! And hopefully the next move will yield a positive story.

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Our library is growing
9 December, 2017

We recently went on a mini book buying spree and then realized that we had nearly ran out of shelf space. Luckily, our custom shelving system is modular and easy to expand. The vertical spacers are welded and powder-coated steel fabricated by local metal dude, so we just had to go back and ask for four more pieces. The shelves are readily available plywood, that only requires 12 holes and a bit of sanding. So now we have 20% more space, and even with the new books added to the collection, there is more room for more shopping!

Also, as you may have already seen, I am in the process of digitally cataloging all these materials. It’s a slow process, but once done will make finding specific resources easier – and more importantly, this will allow us to publish the whole catalog online for everyone’s reference. The current status is that I’ve entered 320 books (accounting for 57,620 pages) till now. The bookshelves are divided into 15 sections, 7 of which are cataloged, 6 are still to go, and two are empty. One of these remaining sections will be relatively simple to do, the others will be more tedious. Of the remaining 5, 3 are type specimens – those will be extremely time consuming. The last two are either about, or written in, other languages and scripts, so they will also tougher to catalog.

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The Letterform Archive!
17 May, 2017

We FINALLY made it to visit the Letterform Archive this last January. I’ve been hoping to see this in person for years now, and meet the founder of it Rob Saunders. Unfortunately Rob was away on a business trip to see about acquiring some huge collection of materials to add to the Archive.

We only had an afternoon here, and that’s certainly not nearly enough time. Next visit I’ll spend a week there for sure :)

These few images give a glimpse of what the place is like and just how much material they have to go through. This is only the surface and only a fraction of the inspiring and significant items they have.

I’d also like to say a thank you to their librarian Amelia who generously offered a lot of advice for us regarding our own collection. Our Mota Italic library is a similar concept as the Letterform Archive, but still in the infant stage. Being in India, we have some additional book preservation issues due to the climate and Amelia was able to give some good suggestions to help preserve everything.

Keep up the great work Letterform Archive, and I look forward to visiting you again!

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On our wonderful trip to San Francisco we adopted several new additions for our library
9 January, 2017

On our wonderful trip to San Francisco we...

Let’s welcome them all to the collection! 📚

Photo taken at: Mota Italic

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Spoils from the latest shopping spree
5 January, 2016

Spoils from the latest shopping spree 😺31 new...

Spoils from the latest shopping spree 😺31 new books & specimens – now just need to find space for them.

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Book sale by the kilo. Almost didn’t get anything, but then…
24 April, 2015

Book sale by the kilo. Almost didn't get...

Book sale by the kilo. Almost didn’t get anything but in the end took home 5kg. Grand total ₹250 ($3.90).

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19 November, 2012


Having fun with the shop & Chromeography show.

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Getting packages is fun!
15 March, 2012

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Indra Kupferschmid in da house!
14 March, 2012

@kupfers in the house!

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NYC Public Library Indic Books
31 January, 2009


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Fleming Fictions Find Fresh Facades
19 April, 2008

New james bond book covers

Ian Fleming (d. 1964) acclaimed creator and author of James bond would be celebrating his 100th birthday this year. In commemoration of this anniversary, Penguin UK is re-issuing his series of 14 books with newly designed hard covers created by Michael Gillette.

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