Kenneth Mallory, Bookseller

I grew up in a small town in Georgia named Roopville, close to Carrollton and the Alabama border, in a family that valued reading and other intellectual pursuits.  My family also valued the past, as we lived in a pre-Civil War house filled with collectables and relics picked up by my parents on numerous antiquing trips.

Growing up in rural Georgia and not being interested in such things as hunting or football was tough. However, I persevered and continued to follow my passions, which at that period in my life led to the visual arts. After high school, I applied to numerous fine arts colleges and finally settled on the Atlanta College of Art, where I pursued a degree in illustration.  In my difficult six months at the ACA, I soon found out that it was possible to be a starving artist even before graduating from school.

While attending school, I worked several low-wage jobs to pay the rent.  Then I found the job of my dreams, a job that could sustain me in body and soul. I found this job at a small bookstore in Little Five Points called A Cappella Books.

This bookstore was filled with books you wouldn’t dream of finding in the Bible Belt South.  Flashy William S. Burroughs titles.  Books about rock and roll, books about drugs, books about sex… and numerous other things that looked like just as much fun!

It seems I wasn’t the only one who wanted to work there, as every time I asked, they weren’t hiring.  After many tries, all followed by flat rejections, I hit upon the idea to offer my labor for free, which was obviously accepted. After a few months of working for free, Frank, the owner, finally offered me a paid part-time position that over the years led to a full-time managerial position running all aspects of the shop.

It was at the shop that I met my future wife, Hannah. I would special-order books for her, and a romance soon developed. Today we have almost ten years together, and two wonderful sons.

In 2005, after almost twelve years at A Cappella Books, I decided that it was time to move out on my own to focus on the types of books I wanted to handle on a daily basis and increase my involvement in the antiquarian and collectible side of the book business. I later joined the ABAA and now exhibit at numerous fairs, as well as selling through the internet.

Since that time, I’ve focused my buying on anything interesting that is tied to the visual arts or the unbeaten paths of the American creative scene. These areas include, but not limited to, photography, visual arts, and rock and roll.

Two things that get me out of bed every day and keep me positive in this business are: 1) the possibility that I’m almost guaranteed to learn something new and 2) an equally good chance that I’ll get to handle some kind of printed cultural artifact I’ve never seen before, and, if I’m lucky, get to be its temporary caretaker until it finds a new home.

Of course, there are also the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made, both collectors and dealers alike, that make this business worthwhile and will keep me around for many years to come.