Home / Media / Books are my business: Will de Búrca of De Búrca Rare Books

Books are my business: Will de Búrca of De Búrca Rare Books

The largest stockist of quality Irish antiquarian books in the world, which is based in Blackrock, Co Dublin, was started by Will’s father Éamonn

Will de Búrca is managing director of De Búrca Rare Books, the largest stockist of quality Irish antiquarian books in the world, which is based in Blackrock, Co Dublin.

How did you get into selling rare books?

My dad Éamonn started the business. He was originally a builder and built up a collection which was getting too big for the house we were living in at the time in Co Mayo so he decided to size it down — that was catalogue number one and it ended up doing extremely well.

Over the years, he phased out the building and went into the books full-time.

When I was young, he would have brought us to book fairs and markets. From a young age, I also collected a lot of autographs and signed books.
After school, I did a bookbinding apprenticeship restoring antiquarian books.

Then I spent some time in Sotheby’s in New York and after that I came in full throttle to the business.

How is business?

During covid, if you had an online business, you were positioned very well, and we saw huge growth in the business.

We used to issue 1,000 catalogues four times a year, it was a mail order business.

That completely changed because of covid, now we are 90% online.

We are just finishing up a catalogue to send out — we still make them, as we have about 50 customers that do not use the internet.
We offer a personal touch, whether it is a probate valuation or whatever. If we are not interested in stock, we have contacts and we offer other options for people.

There is a real demand for good Irish history books, people can’t get enough of them, and there are a lot of collectors in America. We also sell a lot of poetry books. Local history also does very well.

What is a typical day like for you?

It changes according to what emails and calls come in. I keep an eye on auction houses and house clearances, then when we get books and items in, we catalogue, photograph them and upload them. Then I create an e-list of new stock each week that goes out to our online clients.

We have also built up a following on social media, 25,000 followers between Instagram and Facebook. We get inquiries through that so we might call out to people who want to sell a large amount of books. We do a lot of valuations across the country.

We also reprint books that are hard to get. We get inquiries from abroad, so the odd time, I get to hop on a plane and check out collections. We also exhibit at the occasional book fair and we attend a lot.

What do you like most about what you do?

I love cataloguing and putting together a collection — we are working on a Roger Casement one at the moment. You end up educating yourself a lot.

The number one person who gets the most traction is Roger Casement, number two is Michael Collins and three is Brendan Behan; we have seen a huge resurgence in people wanting Behan books lately. We are lucky to be selling Irish authors.

You can promote them easily because they were such characters.

What do you like least about it?

That the internet has taken over and there’s less dealing with people face to face. You have to spend so much time online dealing with the website. Since covid, when everyone was at home and online, good stock is harder to get.

Any interesting finds that stand out?

I found a letter from Jack B Yeats to George Bernard Shaw, it was in a book by Jack B called Sligo, he was joking about how they should meet up and have a boxing match. We are always finding great stuff.

What rare book would you like to get your hands on?

I would love a first edition of The Lord of the Rings. I was the underbidder at an auction in Scotland but it went too high.

Three desert island books

My favourite book is The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien. The second one would be Michael Collins and the Making of a New Ireland by Piaras Béaslaí. I am always trying to read Ulysses so if I had that much time on my hands, I’d bring that.

We have a first edition of Ulysses in our new catalogue. It is harder to get them now and they sell a lot quicker. They are very sought after. It depends on the condition, but you would be talking a minimum of €28,000.

https://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsandculture/arid-41357557.html

Address

De Búrca Rare Books,
‘Cloonagashel’,
27 Priory Drive, Blackrock,
Co. Dublin,
A94 V406,
Ireland

T. +353 (0) 1 288 2159
F. +353 (0) 1 283 4080
M. +353 (0) 87 259 5918
E. deburcararebooks@gmail.com
W. deburcararebooks.com

Office Hours

Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:30pm
Saturday 10:00am to 1:00pm.

An appointment is preferred.

Welcome to De Búrca Rare Books

 

Stay Updated & Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive news from the Irish antiquarian book world and get updates on our latest catalogues and publications.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

No products in the cart