Books are the family business.
Ebon et Noir began, as all things do, with an idea. I recall distinctly the night that my husband and I came up with the name. It was quirky and French with an exotic ring to it. Black and Black (Ebon et Noir)–sounded like the kind of shop that I would patronize. I’ve always been interested in the darker side of design, aesthetics, literature and fashion. My own home is a testament to my often-bizarre decorating tastes. Suffice to say that a marble bust of Lucifer greets you at the top of the stairs.
Originally the idea was to curate an online boutique featuring all-black, hand carved furniture and extravagant Rococo objects d’art and lighting. I spent months researching European and Asian furniture companies, exploring drop shipping hurdles, overseas container routes/ customs manifests, contracts and logistics. It soon became clear that furniture was going to be difficult. Large, heavy items required warehousing, returns would be a nightmare and the time investment was huge. I couldn’t juggle my role as Creative Director at a fast-paced agency, write my fantasy novels and ship designer furniture all over the globe. It was simply impossible.
The Ebon et Noir Boutique idea was shelved. Hold that thought.
In another little corner of the world, my brother was making real inroads in the book business. He was picking up discarded old books, selling them on Amazon and turning a decent profit. The tiny company he had started in 2009, Best & Fastest Books, was experiencing tremendous growth–so much so that my parents quit their day jobs to help him full time.
In essence, my brother was living a dream. I admired his efforts and was in awe of his accomplishments. He went from a rotting 50,000 book collection in a dorm basement to a gigantic warehouse that shipped 900 books in a single day.
Going to his warehouse was a magical experience. I loved the towering shelves of books of every manner, size and subject. I even liked the smell of old books. In short, I was in love. Instead of scaring me away from becoming an author my brother’s business seemed to affirm my desire to write books. Books were the family business!
Fast forward to May, 2013. Something strange happened. Destiny shifted.
Serendipity has always been a huge force in my life. I leave myself open to opportunities and always strive to follow my heart.
I was browsing the web one day when I came across a castle for sale in upstate New York. My husband and I weren’t really looking for a house, but we both sort of knew we wanted something different than the suburban experience we were having (subconsciously anyway). I had grown up in rural Cuba and had always envisioned being surrounded by greenery and nature. Alas, I digress.
When we went to see the castle we were floored. It was the most zany, bizarre, and out of place property we had ever seen complete with turret stairs, a fireplace the size of a garage, machicolations, garden follies and gothic gates. I fell in love. My husband was…uncertain. Set on 12 acres of protected woods on the top of a hill, the place was sprawling and isolated–a complete change of lifestyle for us. The house came with several outbuildings including a stunning Pennsylvania style barn. We had no idea what we were going to do with all of this land and property, but we moved forward.
It was chaotic. It was stressful. The house needed a lot of repairs and dominated our existence. It often felt like the biggest mistake of our lives. During the winter we had to evacuate. The heat didn’t work, the roof was leaking in various places and our cars couldn’t make it up the hill (those were just some of the problems!). It was one of the worst winters on record. We toyed with the idea of admitting defeat and putting the property back on the market. We then decided to keep it for another year. When Spring rolled around we sucked it up and put money into repairs.
It was during this time that I got a call from my brother. He had all these 19th Century antiquarian books that he couldn’t sell on Amazon. Antiquarian books have no barcode and there isn’t an “easy” way to list them. Each one requires anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour of research. Some even longer. Antiquarian books sell slowly, taking up valuable shelf life. It’s a completely different business that my brother wasn’t prepared to take on so he asked me if I wanted to become the antiquarian arm of his business.
I decided to go to his warehouse and pick up one box. Soon, one box became two, three, and so on until I was carting car loads. Over the summer, the entire floor of my barn was filled to bursting with old books.
In my spare time (which wasn’t much) I began to research books and list them on eBay. I had to learn quite a bit about book binding, different eras, book terminology and the proper ways to describe the condition of a book.
After a few months I discovered that not only was I was good at selling books, I enjoyed it! Each sale filled me with glee. On the one hand, I was thrilled to have extra cash for my mounting home repairs, and on the other, I was elated to find these books a home where they would be appreciated.
My natural curiosity was a boon. Each book presented a mystery and an opportunity to learn something new. Who wrote it? What was the book about? What was the world like that year? Before long I had developed a deep connection to the antiquarian book business. It was as if I had finally found my place in the universe.
That’s when the Ebon et Noir Boutique idea resurfaced. I had all the domain names and had already designed the website. Why not run with it?
Looking back and seeing all the things that needed to happen to make Ebon et Noir the reality that it is today I am left with an overwhelming sense of mindfulness. Selling antiquarian books seems to be a perfect fit for my literary sensibilities. I dare envision a future where I can write my novels and sell books full time.
As for who “I” am, I go by several names, but for the purpose of this boutique please call me Narcisse (it’s my pen name).
I was born in Habana, Cuba in 1975 and grew up surrounded by nature in a world nearly devoid of media. Prompted by my father’s nightly tales of the Greek gods, folklore and magic, my imagination blossomed into an extraordinary force in my life.
In 1984 I emigrated to the United States where I was able to realize my dream of becoming a designer, poet and published author. I live my life with passion and enjoy world travel and adventure. Whether I am wreck diving, zipping through Belizean jungles or strolling through Roman ruins, I am always looking for way to incorporate new experiences into my writing.
I have two novellas currently in the market and just finished co-authoring an epic fantasy novel!
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Shipping for books is by Media Mail. Cost is determined by weight and size. Allow 7-10 business days for delivery. I ship all books with tracking. Average cost by Media Mail is $4.00. Books $75 and over will ship with insurance. Media Mail rate applies to customers in the Continental US as well as Hawaii and Alaska. All others please see below.
We ship books all over the world, but higher rates apply. In the cart, simply designate your country and you will see the shipping rate. Most books will ship International First Class as they are less than 4 lbs.
If you have questions regarding a book’s condition or would like more pictures, just ask. I try to be thorough in the description of the book’s condition, bun on occasion things go wrong. To initiate a refund simply contact the shop within 5 days and I’ll be happy to assist you. Buyer pays return shipping.