We had the good fortune of connecting with Jesse Rossa and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jesse, alright, let’s jump in with a deep one – what’s you’re definition for success?
I think that success is being able to live your life on your own terms (as much as possible!). When you are working for yourself, it’s easy to never stop working- and it’s easy to have your work take over your life. But once you’ve figured out how to maintain a balance- and it’s different for everyone- I think you’ve achieved your greatest success. To be able to live by your own wits, skills, knowledge, and drive is an amazing thing.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Although I didn’t know it for a while, everything I did for years led me to be able to do what I do now, which is buy and sell rare books and printed material. After earning an undergrad degree in studio art, I apprenticed with a bookbinder, then went on to UCLA to get a degree in library and information science. While there I interned at the Getty Research Institute, and eventually landed a job as a special collections curator back east. I came back to Los Angeles six years later, and launched Triolet Rare Books in 2011. Being a rare book dealer, and sole proprietor, clicked so quickly for me. I’m able to use skills and accumulated knowledge (and the job is a constant accumulation of useful knowledge), building relationships based on trust and understanding. It’s an ongoing process, which makes the job always interesting!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love classic Los Angeles- anything that’s been here for over fifty years is a winner for me- red leather booths even better! Given the current pandemic situation, the itinerary would have to be modified, of course, but ideally: meals at Musso and Frank; Canter’s; the Pantry; Colombo’s and Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock; the Bull Pen and Old Tony’s in Redondo Beach; Taylor’s in Koreatown; drinks at the 1886 in Pasadena, tacos on the street from a truck… visits to the Getty Center and the Huntington Library are always a must for out-of-towners, as is the Museum of Jurassic Technology, Amoeba Music, screenings at the New Beverly or the Egyptian, and hopefully a show at McCabe’s!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My community is tight and collegial- everybody knows one another! And my colleagues Brad and Jen Johnson of Johnson Rare Books and Archives in Covina have been blazing a path in the field, exploring new directions and new angles on old things. Dana Gioia, former poet laureate of California and USC professor, has been a consistent voice for literacy and books, especially from California. I’d also like to give a shoutout to David Kipen, founder of Libros Schmibros in Boyle Heights, KPCC books commentator, and the biggest booster of Los Angeles there is.