Category Archives: book repair

Books a Bazillion

In which Jack returns to writing his weekly blog post, and sighs patiently over a subject known only too well to bookslingers everywhere.

garbage-landfill¬†Yesterday one of our cafe regulars asked if we bought books. I explained that we didn’t, but gave store credit if the trade-ins met our needs and standards.

“Oh, I can just donate them,” he said, and headed for his van.

That seemed like a clue that these weren’t going to be top of the line, but I went out to watch him struggle up the front steps with an enormous TV box–the kind I advise folk not to use, as they weigh a ton when full of books.

A better man would have helped, but I admit to you my moral failing: I knew what was coming and just didn’t care.

A quick glance established that most of his donations were older Grishams and Pattersons; to add insult to injury, they were minus their dust jackets. After explaining as gently as I could that¬† these were pretty much useless to us, I raked through to find eight acceptable hardbacks as well as more (useless) battered paperbacks. At this point he shrugged and said he’d got them from a friend.

(So – a friendship wall?)

This was the third time in as many days we’d had much the same experience, having to explain that we don’t take hardbacks minus their jackets, torn or stained paperbacks, romances including Danielle Steel or kids’ coloring books already colored in. It’s the law of used book shops: people don’t want to dump, so they donate. And they mean well for the most part, but a couple months of that, and customers will have a hard time differentiating your shop from a dump site.

Surveying our store the other week, with its spiraling pinwheels of shelves moving toward the center of every room, eking out the final frontiers of space, I resolved to become even more choosy about what to accept. And perhaps instigate a cull.

After all, folk are generally pretty sanguine when I explain our policy. What I hope is that people will begin to weed out themselves before bringing stuff to us, but in the meantime, I’ll stifle a sigh. And maybe help with the box next time.

Perhaps I can build a garden wall somewhere with all those jacketless Grishams and Pattersons? Wendy would like that….

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, blue funks, book repair, bookstore management, crafting, humor, Life reflections, reading, small town USA

Welcome Shopsitter Kelly, and Humiliation Contest Updates

embarrassedThe entries continue to roll in, and they are side-splitting, sweet-tea-spitting, pants-peeing funny. Books are a noble calling, be it writing or selling-and it can go wrong in so many interesting ways!

You have until Sunday at 11:55 pm EST to enter your host or author humiliation story. Scroll down to Monday’s blog to get the rules and prizes.

If you’re visiting the blog, enjoy checking out the independent bookshops profiled on the BOOKING DOWN THE ROAD TRIP page. 3000+ still going strong in the States alone!

Today, we welcome Kelly and her daughter Rachel, who will be shopsitting while I’m in Scotland for a week. In their honor, I’m rerunning a blog for last year’s shopsitters, giving them a taste of what they’re in for:

When shopsitters tell their friends about coming to The Little Bookstore, reactions tend to divide into “Can I come too?” and staging an intervention.

We sympathize. Preparing the shop guide, we find ourselves typing bald statements like “When Valkyttie gets angry she pees down the bathroom heat vent.”

Will they even read the rest, the tried-and-tested wisdom of our cleaning guru, herself the owner of an angry kitty, plotting kitty, grrr, grrr, grrr? “Put a paper towel on the duster stick by the vent, swish-n-soak, then spray shaft with Heather’s magic elixir. Make sure it’s off first or you wear the elixir.” Or will they run in terror from a bookshop whose CEO is a pissing-mad eighteen-year-old Scottish cat clever enough to maximize effects?

Given corporate culture today, perhaps peeing down a shaft is not that bad, and having no boss is part of our bookshop’s fun. The place is yours: do as you will! The shop guide is assistance, not direction.

Jack and I wonder how Kelly and Rachel will react to the section “COLORFUL LOCAL CHARACTERS,” explaining the crazy psychiatrist, the schizophrenic man who believes he has PhDs in–among other subjects-canoeing and radiology. How ’bout Mr. S, a customer whose spider tattoo wraps around his bald head. Fixated on Fred Saberhagen, Mr. S keeps saying “BEE-serk-ER,” like a French surname, despite Jack’s efforts. Six foot six, hands like banana bunches, Mr. S picks up foster kittens and coos to them as he wanders the shop, fur baby curled purring against his chest.

Then there’s the back-scratcher hanging in the kitchen. Without it, you can’t turn on the light. One night Bert got this essential piece of equipment in his mouth and Jack and I chased him through the shop, screaming, “Drop it! Don’t chew!”

I’m not even going to talk to you about finding the light switches in this place, Kelly. They’re ALL behind bookshelves, so I’ve listed the titles you should look for.

As for dog chases, the guide tells how to recapture Bert and Zora should they slip out. [Equipment: two leashes, raisin-less breakfast bars, and a car key, kept in a Ziploc pouch at the back door.] It’s the kind of thing one doesn’t think twice about until explaining to someone else….

So, welcome Kelly and Rachel. And have fun while you’re here! I’ll be in Scotland if you need me.

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, book repair, book reviews, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, publishing, reading, Sarah Nelson, shopsitting, small town USA, writing