Skip to main content

In Praise Of Used Book Stores


Regardless of the city or town I'm in, one of my favorite destinations is the local used book store. While often perceived as simply a place for the budget conscious to find cheap books, I've noticed that there appears to be a subculture of people who frequent them. More than bargain hunters, a good many patrons are seeking the rare, the unusual, the out-of-print. I am one of those people. In the early 1990s, I found myself perusing the aisles of a used book store in Chattanooga, looking for nothing in particular, altho I'd developed an interest in signed books. In the poetry section, I noticed a small, nondescript paperback. Looking inside, I found the author had inscribed a note and signature to whom I must assume was the original purchaser. The book went home with me that evening, becoming the first of my collection of signed books and the start of a pursuit that interests me to this day.


While Chattanooga, TN is home to the largest used book store I've seen (and visit regularly), I greatly admire stores of a smaller scale, most often staffed by a lone clerk who is quite often reading between purchases. You've probably encountered the type: a polite greeting upon entry, with "let me know if I can help you" added for the sake of politeness before returning to their own reading. To me, this is perfect, for if I need help, I'll ask, otherwise leave me free to explore. The epitome of such a place and person is a small book store in Beaufort, South Carolina, where my wife purchased a signed copy of the late Pat Conroy's "The Prince Of Tides."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

In Memorium: Shaun Mullen, A Most Generous Man

Author, editor, blogger, and so much more Shaun Mullen has passed. Noting his blog  Kiko's House  hadn't been updated in a while, I did a search and discovered his  obituary . My friendship with Shaun goes back to 2006. While living in Australia, I'd discovered his blog when searching for informed commentary on US foreign policy in the Middle East. Sadly, much of that policy remains unchanged 14 years later, but that is for another post. Shaun  had noticed that his blog wasn't rendering correctly in Internet Explorer and asked if anyone could suggest a fix. I, being a bit of a tech head at the time, suggested Firefox or similar browser, and the problem was solved. We kept in and out of touch, finding common ground in music (I mentioned my love for the Grateful Dead and Shaun sent a dozen CDs of concert recordings. By International mail. The man was generous to a fault.), worldview, and more. My old site got its greatest number of hits when Shaun linked to a few of m

Finding Adventure In A Google-Mapped World

Technology has made our world a smaller place, a place less mysterious and perilous. Where once one had to travel to see a destination, now we simply look it up and look at pictures. This is both an advantage and a loss, and I'll try to explain in the paragraphs that follow.  Gone are the days of grand adventure, of heading off into the unknown. While it is true one can set off on a small, personal adventure, you're never too far away from information that can remove obstacles and inconveniences from your path, but remember those things are part of the path , and to remove them removes at least some of the adventure.  So, what to do? I suggest doing what technology regularly does: miniaturize.  Get to know your local area. You may think you already know it, but a few minutes of online research will have you raising your eyebrows. For example, I recently learned an old bridge just a short distance from home holds the distinction of being the oldest bridge still in use in the cou

A Black Swan Of My Very Own!

 One week ago, I, along with all employees of the print division of Brown Industries, was summoned to a meeting. Tensions were high and fear was palpable, as work had been slow for several weeks. Layoffs, it seemed, were to be announced.  If only it were so simple. Speaking through a poorly set up PA system, one of the two CEOs announced that funding that had been sought had fallen through and the company could no longer sustain operating costs. Brown Industries, inventor of the carpet sample industry and economic juggernaut for more than 60 years, would permanently suspend operations.  I was suddenly unemployed.  All were stunned. A short Q&A session took place in which we were reassured this wasn't the fault of labor, this was a failure on the management level. Cold comfort, to say the least. My immediate coworkers and I returned to our desks and began filling boxes with photos and other personal effects. I was reminded of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and seeing fo