The Work We Do: Dawn Hedberg, Black Cat Books

My name is Dawn Hedberg and this is my bookstore, Black Cat Books. We’re on Shelter Island. My husband, Mike, and I have run this bookstore on Shelter Island for 10 years.

We work together here pretty much everyday. We have a division of labor. He does most of the online packages and I do the pricing, and I do all the buying of the books. Every day we have at least 10 online orders and I’d say on average we have 15. Typically I do maybe two or three buys a day, going to people’s homes, looking at their libraries, maybe purchasing them, or advising what to do with them if I’m not interested. As a used bookstore, when we’re out of something, we can’t just reorder it, so I have to constantly be buying to keep the store inventory interesting and fresh.

Then, once I have bought a collection and brought it home, that’s when all the work begins here. That’s when I spend a lot of time here looking things up on the internet, checking auction records, pricing, deciding what’s going to go into the shop and what’s going to go online.

Dawn Hedberg of Black Cat Books. (Rachel Siford photo)

This shop has been here for 10 years, but I’ve had the shop since I was 26, so almost 22 years. It was in Sag Harbor for the first 10.

I started working in bookstores when I was 16 years old. It is essentially all I’ve done is work in bookstores. And I’ve worked in a lot of them, a lot of different kinds of bookstores. I just knew I loved it from a very young age. Not just that I loved reading, but I love book selling. Book selling is a real art. Book collecting is really interesting to me. I love the thrill of the hunt with used books. I love finding something very unusual.

I love when people come in and they find something they’ve been looking for for a long time. It’s really fulfilling.

“The Work We Do” is a Suffolk Times multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork. It is made possible by Peconic Landing in Greenport. See photos on Instagram @thesuffolktimes.