So I was talking to a bookseller about the life of a bookseller, and was told about a woman who came into the store and started fondling books, almost at random. She loved books, she said, but she had a Kindle now. She missed the feel of riffling pages and the weight of the book in her hand as she read, and she really regretted not buying books these days.
“I guess I’m not running a store at all now,” said the bookseller. “It’s a petting zoo.”
During the last weekend in July, the circus was in town again. The Book Fair makes for quite an economical circus in its own way: we provide the equipment and the acts come in and perform for us.
The perennials were there. The lady who didn’t even look up from the book to tell the little girl “Well, Daddy will have to be patient, won’t he?” is just the latest variation on the long-running comedy “Spouses At the Book Fair”.
There were some fairly new acts. For the second year in a row, somebody dumped out all the records in the Inspirational box so she/he could use the box for something else.
And, of course, we try to present something new every year. One scene I shall cherish as a Great Performance of 2013 was the dedicated shopper who raced in, map in one hand and list in the other, sped into room 4, and skidded to a halt. “You built a wall!” she exclaimed, in tones of great resentment.
It was a grand circus, the fourth-highest grossing out of 29 annual shows (several thousand dollars better than the total everyone was telling me we’d never reach again back in 2009.) Those of you who came to play were better behaved than usual (must’ve been the nice weather) and as unpredictable as always.
More videocassettes sold than I remember selling in 2012 or 2011. On Half-Price Day, a man called out to me “At this price, it’s cheaper than renting them!” It sure is. In this neighborhood, you need to warm up the time machine and travel back ten years to find anywhere to rent videos.
You were buying records, too, but not the ones I thought you would. The Classics sold reasonably well, but there wasn’t the fury to buy them there sometimes is. Meanwhile, I swear I saw three people standing quietly in line to look at the old Rock albums. Jazz sold, as always, and Folk/Country (which were immovable fifteen years ago) went very quickly. But a lot of the fine old radio shows on LP were left behind. (For the, er, record, I didn’t really expect you to buy the Franciscan sermon albums and you cheerfully passed those up.)
Dance, Fashion, and Military Fiction sold out completely, or closely enough to count. (There were two magazines left in Fashion and two paperbacks in Military Fiction.) You actually left about 40 books in Paperback Literature, and about two dozen in Classics, but I forgive you. The light IS bad in that room on a cloudy day. Hardback Literature, Mystery in both kinds of cover, Science Fiction, Military History, Music…all the popular categories were pretty well bought out this year again. (I would pass along advice to the young man who came on Sunday looking for anything by Agatha Christie, but I bet he’s already guessed what that might be.)
Next time I’ll go into what you asked me as I passed among the six rings of our circus. For now I will end on a note for you Rebecca Wells fans out there. I checked on Sunday afternoon, and there were four copies of The Da Vinci Code left. There was not a single copy of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.