Tuesday, February 05, 2008


No, thanks, I have enough books

More shop chat. Almost everyone who calls the shop these days is either related to me, or is hoping to sell me their leftover books (sometimes both!). But I do not want to buy their books, this time of year. Every day I could give away the little bit of cash I do have, many times over, for books that would then sit around until summer and fall, when shop sales are stronger. And I already have lots of decent, hardworking books sitting around unemployed until then. So I've gotten good at saying No. No no no (see?). No, thank you, please call me in the spring. I didn't always think this way. I used to panic and be afraid that I'd miss something really great, but after years of chasing every lead, I've come to the conclusion that more good books will always be floating around somewhere, if and when I choose to go looking. Holy mackerel, I would have made a terrible book scout, what with keeping too many good things for myself, and turning down housecalls in the winter. Lack of new inventory is usually considered the kiss of death for used bookshops, but in places such as rural Maine, where business is wildly different depending purely on season, I choose to take it easy for a while.

Business is generally slowish, but I have been steadily selling a few books here and there each day, what with a few in-person customers and some Amazon sales online. Today's comment of the day, from the banker/lawyer/architect/university professional (those being the nearest offices) couple out for their lunch break: "Must be nice, to be able to sit and read all day, listen to music, not have to wear 'work' clothes..." (They didn't buy any books.) Why do people think that bookshop proprietors sit around and read all day? After all, we only do that some days. Days in February when only five people come in over the course of eight hours, and the checkbooks are balanced and the bills paid up, the back room is more (or less) tidy, and no new stock is waltzing in and clamoring to be dealt with. Sure, I'll put my feet up and read The Golden Age, because I can. Have fun back at the office!

Yeah, have fun back at the office in your office clothes!
Each time I read a new entry in your blog, I think of Kendall Hailey, author of THE DAY I BECAME AN AUTODIDACT. As well-read as you are, you've no doubt encountered her book. Kendall is the daughter of playwright Oliver Hailey and novelist Elizabeth Forsythe. Both you and Kendall keep the reader spellbound by your daily experiences in and around books. Your writing entertains, educates, and motivates. (I've spent "big bucks" buying books mentioned in your blog.) Thank you for sharing your experiences. Many book blogs are informative and interesting, but none are as well written and have such style, personality, and attitude as yours. You're one talented cookie. Please write a book someday of your book adventures. I'll buy it. While we're at it: Have you ever discussed (in your blog) movies set in Maine?
Jon, they did look good... Dressy tight black polyester, very Will and Grace. Stylish, but hey, this is winter in Bangor, Maine. Not stylish. Long johns and flannel shirts rule.

Anon, I think I love you. If my book is ever published I will send you a case. (Yes, there is a book.) Thanks for your kind words about my writing style. Most days I think I sound unbearable. How good it is to know that's not always the case.

I haven't talked about movies much - though many decent (literary) films have been made here in Maine - The Cider House Rules, Empire Falls (I've had lunch a few times in Skowhegan at the Empire Diner - decent burgers and fries), and of course several Stephen King horror flicks. Interesting idea for a topic - thanks. I'll add it to my short list, for those days when nothing's happening, and I think *what can I possibly say on my blog...*

I know of the autodidact book, but I've never read it. Now I'll have to buy a copy. Is this payback...?
Who says that booksellers don't wear "work" clothes? I may be dressed in jeans and moccasins today, but I am also wearing pearls! I am trying to add a touch of class to an otherwise slightly shabby ensemble.

That's all the chat I have time for today. I am busy sitting around the shop and reading books all day.
Vicky, it's the little details, isn't it. Besides, pearls do go with anything.

Sorry to interrupt your reading program... I'm back to it myself, after a few busyish days doing other things for a change (working, you know).
FYI: A first of Chatwin's In Patagonia is on it's way to me. (fourth printing) Can't wait to read it. I can hear my wife repeating your phrase already "No more books!".

Question, what's your experiance, if any, on obtaining facsimile dust jackets for your first editions for resale? Am I adding anything to the resale value by spending $22.00 per jacket or is it nil? (that is, when I eventually decide to pony up some of my collection)

Steven, I think facsimile jackets aren't worth much to someone who's seriously interested in collecting good first editions. If it were me, I wouldn't spend the money on them. And I'd hate to see you buy facsimile jackets and then find out that no one wants to purchase your books, despite the fact that you'd spruced them up in this way.

Even a great first edition is a hard sell without its original jacket - as I well know - unless you have something so good that the book holds its value even without a jacket. Or if the book's jacket was scarce and fragile in the first place, and hence rarely survives at all... on and on. It's a science, first edition collecting!

Does that help? I do hope you enjoy "In Patagonia." Let me know.
That does help. I guess I need a lesson in what sells. I'll stick to the 'hobby' and not the 'science' part.

I recently discovered Brian Hall is coming out with a new novel called Fall of Frost, a fictionalization of the life of poet Robert Frost (1874-1963). It is due out near the end of March. He's a talented writer and the subject matter looks interesting. (assuming you care for Frost)

Throw another log on the old cast iron stove in the back of the shop and stay toastie.

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