So we sold about a dozen slide carousels again this year.
I’ve mentioned this before: what does and doesn’t sell, come the end of July, is impossible to predict. In a world of PowerPoint presentations and slideshows downloaded to your phone, who would have guessed slide carousels could still be a hot item?
Videocassettes sold, but not in any mad and heart-stopping way. We DID, however, sells ten of those prefab pressboard VHS cassette cabinets. As well as both of our audiocassette cabinets built in the same style. So you folks did want to buy something to put your cassettes in, even if you weren’t impressed by ours. (Mind you, it makes me feel better after being told by people that what we SHOULD be putting all those outmoded formats in was the recycling bin.)
At one point, I glanced through the Reference section to see how things were going there, and found that the shelf devoted to old high school and college yearbooks was pretty much empty. You might think this is natural: customers seeing their old school yearbook might decide to pick it up. But this is one of those sorting tricks I haven’t explained to you yet. Yearbooks from schools in Illinois go into the Chicago section. The yearbooks in Reference are the ones from New Mexico or Massachusetts. How many graduates of East Malarkey High in New Jersey wander past our reference section?
I think it has to do with those old “Before They Were Stars” shows. If you can find a celebrity in a yearbook, you can put it up on eBay for a couple hundred times the price you paid at the Book Fair. It’s worth scooping up an armful. (I do check some yearbooks for celebrities—I’ve had Saul Bellow and Rudy Vallee, among others–but I can’t even keep track of all the celebrities these days, much less their alma maters.)
All those noisy children’s books with tabs you can press to make sounds sold. Yes, I know they’re popular (I usually have one or two that I keep in the sorting room for months just because I like the sounds they make.) But, um, half of them weren’t working. This means—assuming you bought them so they could amuse your bundles of bounce with all those noises—that you will have to get a Phillips screwdriver, remove the panel, figure out what kind of battery the things take, and find a place that sells them. (Trying this myself a couple of times, I found that hearing aid battery makers change all the identifying numbers on their batteries every few months, so that SR12 battery the book originally took is now a THX 6 7/8.)
It’s like that all around the Book Fair. You bought the teddy bear; you didn’t buy the puppy with the squeaker in its foot. You bought the Chagall lithograph; you didn’t buy the Currier and Ives Civil War print. You bought the German Donald Duck comic books; you didn’t buy the Spirit comics. All of the laminated historic front pages sold; not a single vintage Playboy magazine left the premises. (You have something against Barbi Benton?) The Olympic spoons sold; the Olympic First Day Cover didn’t move. You ignored our array of postcards; you bought virtually every miniature book we had out. You bought the signed Alice in Wonderland; you left me both books signed by Nancy Reagan.
At least one person asks me every year, “Why do you even put out stuff that won’t sell?” We never put out things that won’t sell. We just don’t always get in the right customers.