William Chrisant & Sons Old Florida Book Shop, tucked away in a Fort Lauderdale retail strip, literally overflows with books. Shoppers can browse the shelves and racks before opening the front door.
Chrisant stated that the 50,000 items, including antique furniture and maps, rare prints, ephemera and oriental rugs, were accumulated over a period of 40 years.
One of his most fascinating finds was "a published book by Earnest Shackletons, an explorer from Britain who led three expeditions into the Antarctic". It was the first Antartican book to be published. "Only about 100 copies were printed," said he. I paid $33,000 for this book, and it was sold for $87,000.
In graduate school, his appreciation for books as artifacts grew. Chrisant had enough books by the time he finished his degree to open a shop in an antique store near his hometown, Akron, Ohio. He quickly outgrew this small shop. Chrisant moved from Akron to Cleveland and then Philadelphia before opening his current store at 3426 Griffin Road in 2009.
The shop is not only a bookshop, but also a venue for photo shoots, book clubs, lectures, and piano recitals.
Chrisant, when asked about the evolution of his business since 1978, said that his customer base has drastically changed. Chrisant's customers are no longer primarily middle-aged males, but women in their 20s or 30s.
What made him want to deal in rare and collectible book?
He said, "I love books."