03 January 2016

Stories from a used book store owner

A very nice, well-appointed lady spends about an hour browsing the stock, including the locked cases. After building a rather formidable stack of unrelated books worth over $3,500 (including some very scarce Mark Twain first editions), I couldn't resist asking:
What do you collect?
Oh nothing, but I will purchase these.
(My curiosity getting the better of me) A gift?
No. I am going to use them to decorate my daughter's bathroom.
(Silly me! I failed to notice that the books were all various shades of green. This is a good thing, since the books will soon be color-coordinated with the mold).
Let me help you carry these out to your car.

(phone call - grownup)
I have a book I want to sell.
What is it?
It's by John Stainback. It's called "The Wayword Bus"
Who's the publisher?
I just said, John Stainback
He's the author, sort of. Let's try again, what does the copyright page say?
Where's that?
Sorry, I can't use it. Thanks for calling.

phone call...
I have a bunch of old books I want to sell on e-bay. Can you tell me what they are worth?
Why would I want to do that?
My friend said to call you and that you know a lot about books.
You are missing my point. Why should I waste my time helping you?
So I can know what reserve to put on my books.
I charge for appraisals.
Well this isn't an appraisal. I just want to know what they are worth.
Sorry, you will have to call someone else. Good luck!

(Woman mid-thirties, pondering a purchase)
I have never read a book this long. It would really have to be good for me to read this one (149 pps.).

(Woman, in her mid 30s)
Do you have the "Titanic" book?
I'd like to read it.
Uh huh.
Did you know it's a true story, except for the romantic part?
(this is worse than I thought!)

You have a book I want, but it's $30. Would you take less? I just want to look at the pictures.

It's too hot in here! Why don't you turn on the air conditioning or something?
You could take off your sweater.

Have you read all these books?
Of course! I never sell a book without reading it first.
(Real long pause)
When do you watch TV?

Hi, are you hiring?
No. Not at this time.
I like books.
So do I.
I promise not to get in the way. I could just read or something.

Have you ever seen the Guggenheim Bible?

phone call...
Are you hiring?
Good! Can I have your company's name?
I have to tell the Unemployment Department that I am looking for a job.
This is the Unemployment Department. Can I get your name?

phone call...
I have a rare book.
What do you have?
It's called Sea Wolf.
By London.
What makes you think it's rare?
It's signed by him.
Is it a first edition?
Who is the publisher?
It's a paperback?
What year was it published?
He must have been pretty old when he signed it.
Yea, he was.
I have to go now.
Do you want to buy it?

(Customer fills out search card: 16 Chapels)
(me) Oh, you're after books on European Churches?
No, just books about the 16 Chapels.
16 Chapels?
Yea, you know the one with the big painting on the ceiling.
We will let you know what we find (once we stop convulsing).

There are more at the BookMine, which also has this interesting column.


  1. Not sure whether to laugh or cry at these. But I prefer books over TV, myself. I also prefer the company of my ten cats to other people.

    1. And this post illustrates several of the reasons why...

  2. Want to have little fun? Go to the help desk at your local B&N and say, "I've never seen any biographies of Malcolms I thru IX."

    See how many clerks start googling for them.


  3. From The Bookmine's Stupid Quotes:
    (Two women discussing Toni Morrison's "Paradise")

    Have you read it yet?

    Well, I'm reading it now, but I only read it five pages at a time.

    Why's that?

    Well, I don't want to buy it, so I have to keep going back to Barnes & Nobel to read it."

    I work in a Library.
    When I read things like this, it makes me want to hang it up, and work at the local brewery.

    1. I truly don't understand why more people don't take advantage of the resources of public libraries. My wife and I are "power users," for books, DVDs, and music and we go to conferences and meetings there. And the older I get, the more it makes sense to borrow something from a library rather than to buy it to store on a shelf at home.

    2. Your kind words mean so much to library workers who spend their day looking for "that book with the blue cover." Thank you, and I love your blog.

  4. Made my day! Especially the 149 pages! I used to work in a secondhand bookstore :)

  5. My favorite was "16 Chapels."
    Which is not to be confused with the song "16 Candles."

  6. I work in a used bookstore located in a public library. I had a customer in early December who was looking for books with red or green spines for use as Christmas decorations.


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