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Book Fair Blog

Every book has a story

Every book has a story.

Check in frequently to read the behind-the-scenes scoop on the Newberry’s popular Book Fair. The blog is maintained by “Uncle Blogsy,” otherwise known as Dan Crawford, Book Fair Manager.

Safe at Home

Our donors have been particularly generous this week, one of them giving us the deed to a platinum mine, sets of matched emerald cufflinks for each day of the week, and a massive collection of signed baseball cards. Maybe.

See, what they actually gave us was a booksafe: one of those books which has a hollowed-out center for hiding valuables in an inconspicuous way. We have had booksafes which were filled before: one with costume jewelry, one with a dollar bill specially blessed to create more dollar bills, and one with real jewelry which was eventually claimed by its owner. THIS one contains far greater possibilities. It contains the key to a safe deposit box.

We’ve had those come in before too, in booksafes and at the bottoms of boxes. We know what they are because they come in an envelope which notes that what is inside is the key to a safe deposit box. BUT for added security, there is never anything on this envelope or the key to signify where that little lockbox might be. This one, suggestively, comes with a keycard—one of those cards you swipe in the proper lock to show you are the proper person who is allowed through. And of course, THAT has nothing on it to give any hint as to where that lock is.
It’s a wonderful thing, really: we can imagine that the box out there somewhere has the secret recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken, the lost manuscript of Moby Dick, or someone’s vacation slide of Lompoc. Hey, to each his own treasure.

The booksafe itself is rather run of the mill, unlike the OTHER booksafe we had come in last week, which is tricked out like a jewelry box. Do you worry that your diamonds will cut into your rubies, all jumbled together in a plain rectangular hollow in an ordinary booksafe? Then this is the one for you. It’s also a little glitzier than the other, as it still has its dust jacket. On the other hand, it was empty.
That dustjacket, though, is what I wanted to talk to you about. Were you thinking of picking out a booksafe to tuck away a little mad money, a small cache of rare postage stamps, the thumb drive with the manuscript of the book with which you will change the way the world sees chocolate milk? The first thing you need to do is look at your bookshelves.

See, this little jewelry box was made from a suspense thriller. If the rest of the books on your shelf are paperback romances, this is going to scream at a malefactor “Hey, look at me!” It defeats the whole purpose of the booksafe, which is to blend in with the rest of your collection, if it becomes obvious.

Similarly, if you are one of those people with nothing but bright, shiny new novels on your shelves, in pristine dustjackets, the other booksafe I mentioned, being a bit of hardcover nonfiction without a jacket, will similarly draw the attention of evildoers (or nicedoers, if you happen to be hiding contraband.) Pick a booksafe that blends in, and you should be safe.

Resist the temptation to make jokes. If a burglar is hunting for your diamond jewelry, tucking it all away inside a copy of Ian Fleming’s Diamonds Are Forever is not funny. Don’t give the intruder assistance. (Anyhow, Diamonds Are Forever is too skinny to be a good booksafe.) Likewise, tucking your poker winnings inside a copy of Think and Grow Rich is the kind of witticism which will get you robbed.
Don’t choose a really interesting title, either. The last thing you want is for those blackmail photos you took of your alderman to fall into the lap of a guest who was just looking for something to read. I don’t need to tell you that you yourself would be annoyed if you’ve settled in bed with a bowl of popcorn and a nice beverage, and that mystery you picked to read turns out to be the one you put your Krugerrands inside. You’ll spill the popcorn picking up gold coins, and your cozy evening will be ruined.

Keep these things in mind as you shop the Book Fair. Oh, and if you’re just shopping for regular books, and the price includes a note like “Look at page 19”, this is usually a sign that the book is hollow starting at that page. I don’t want to be blamed for spilled popcorn.

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