So, wouldn’t you like to know? Actually, believe it or not, I get asked that a lot. “So you probably just sit and read all day. What a job you have.” Actually no. It really is hard work. But then again it is a used bookstore so, seriously, the work isn’t all that hard. Or that bad. But it is still work. There is always books to shelve. Always. Keeping fiction in order and filling in the holes of purchased titles. Sweeping. Dusting. Slipping in reading or at least skimming a few pages.
But what happens on the days when, well, customers are far between? Say on a snowy day that no one in their right mind would be on any road except for a used bookstore owner and the postal worker? And why do we always seem to make it in? Why don’t we stay home like sane people do? Because we don’t want to disappoint customers. Those that need to have something fresh to read. To curl up on a sofa with a fresh pot of tea or a cup of steaming coffee. We don’t like to disappoint them. So we trod in and open the doors, sweep off the sidewalk, turn on the lights and sit and wait. Even if no one will show at the door at least we were open in case we were needed.
I’ve always wondered what other used bookstore owners did on those quiet days. Me? I generally do the same as always except every hour I go outside and sweep off the sidewalk leading to my door. Wander the shelves to tuck in books, re-alphabetize as needed and think that I should be reorganizing Religion and finish Cookbooks, and Gardening but well, I don’t. I’ll save it for another day. Dusting? Do used bookstore owners really dust? Doesn’t that hurt the ambiance? Just a thought. And then the mighty question, now what do I read? That took a bit until I finally settled on P.G. Wodehouse’s, Jeeves Omnibus. But then there is also Kipling and what about…ugh! That is a perfect dilemma for a used bookstore owner – settling on what next to read.
Today being a wintry day with more snow on the way tonight I posed a question to my fellow booksellers in Vermont, “Hey, what are you doing to entertain yourself on this quiet, snowy day?” Of course, I made it sound that I was quite busy – out straight – because I don’t want them to know I’m having a slow day. Kidding. I told them. I’ve had three customers so far and hoping that no one is taking pity on me because the snow has brought out tons of customers for them! Actually we are all very supportive to one another. Yes, for real. No real competition amongst us. Unless, of course, at a library sale but that’s for another story.
As I mentioned, I emailed the VABA (Vermont Antiquarian Bookseller Association) group and here is the response I received: “Right now I am busy preparing the brochure for the book fair, but I have done any and all of those things on a slow day. The cleaning is usually the last thing, though. Slow days are also usually when I can’t ignore the bookkeeping any more, and write up sales, etc. Tea is always much more appealing, sometimes while reading the local paper, and takes up far too much of the day,” from one seller up north.
Here’s someone just down the road from me, “Well, I’ve been repairing and cleaning some books. Starting to pack for the book fair. Dealing with several small chores that needed to get done but kept putting off. Checking facebook, checking email, and watching videos on YouTube. It’s 4 pm, and I actually have two people in the shop but they spending most of their time petting the cat! Not snowing here right now. Less than an hour to closing.”
And from some unknown part of Vermont (;-)) I received this response: “Yep! It has been snowing here all day….winter getting in the last licks. Did not go to the store today…schools closed, road only plowed once and the plow just went up the hill for the second time today. So, I worked on my taxes…always a wonderful thing to do on a snowy day…and I have a little less hair and fewer dollars in my pocket after the government takes it’s cut. I wonder if we could qualify for some of those government grants and handouts for historic preservation on Antiquarian Book Stores or something along that line…maybe even for being mentally deranged in working for little or nothing??? Thanks for the break in the boring work of doing tax forms, where completion of one form requires another form to complete the form of another form so you can do the form you started on, and those wonderful people in the Washington, DC area that work on paperwork reduction!!!!!! Best, Name withheld to protect the guilty party.”
See we always keep ourselves busy even if we can’t make it into the store. But he would have if he could have I bet!
Oh! Time for me to turn out the lights and head home. Grab my book – ok, books – to read tonight and get ready to repeat for tomorrow. But hopefully busier.
Right off, my comparison is going to be a lot different than you are probably use to. As a seller of used books I’m not frightened of e-readers. Not at all. Why you ask? Well, let’s look at the differences.
When you think of used books you might think of an image such as:
Or what about this:Or:
Books – physical books – stir emotions. Create anticipation. Discovery. As well as artistic backdrops. The smell, possible notations from previous owner(s), mementos tuck in between pages. Even serve as a diary. A diary of remembrance. A pile of books. Enjoyable to look at. Am I not right? Of course I am!
Here’s a couple of e-book (Kindle) images my daughter took. I told her to think artistically.
(What is she reading???)
See what I mean? And of course, real books are better to read. Maybe heavier but so much more personality. I know I’m right. And to be fair to my daughter, she has piles of books around. Piles! I don’t know why she has a Kindle but I don’t judge.
And besides, you’ll never see this with any e-books – an aisle full of them.
I went online and snagged the following photos posted on the college’s Middlebury Campus newspaper [http://middleburycampus.com/2013/01/27/into-the-woods/]. I just had to show the set. Be forewarned! You are going to swoon. All the books came from the store and the pages (leaves) were books that were either falling apart or destined for the local recycling center. Can you imagine a book not wanting to be a part of this amazing set? For information about the play see my previous post. Enjoy!
Yes, books from the store will be starring in Middlebury College “J” term’s production of INTO THE WOODS. How much fun is that? A lot of fun!
Ok, there will be college actors and all that but seriously it’s all about the books, isn’t it?
Doug Anderson, Executive Director of Town Hall Theater here in Middlebury is the stage director and has done a “J” term musical production for a number of years. His vision for this year’s set was a library. And well, you know what a library consists of. So he contacted me to see if it was possible to supply him with a great number of books. Of course! I don’t know how many boxes went out of the store but a lot. Now I’m itching to see the set. But I’m going to be a good audience. Yes, I could have slipped in but I want to experience the whole theatrical effect – lights, audience, smell. The whole theater experience.
Took my breathe away! The trees – apple ladders – with their leaves of book pages. (Note: all pages were from books falling apart.) And see all the bookshelves? It blew my mind to see this and made me so jealous that I never thought of such a set. I know, I’m such a nerd! But tonight I will be a happy nerd and a proud used bookseller seeing my books under the lights.
I generally don’t make resolutions but I decided this year I would and publicly announce them. I should clarify, store related. Personally I don’t make any. I’m not even going to put myself in that position. Store related is different. Its professional. It is all about the store and being a good used bookstore lady and representative of the industry. An industry I believe in and one that I feel has a strong future. Seriously now, do you believe that e-books will totally replace books? I don’t. Even if I didn’t own a used bookstore I’d feel that way. Anyways, before I lose track of this post…
Resolutions. What kind of resolution would a used bookstore want to make? Post more books online, is one thing. Make a conscious effort in blogging and better represent the books that enter the store. Feature them. Write about them. Maybe work towards creating an inventory of the books? And how about this one…read. Yes, read. I’m giving myself permission to read when the store is open. Well, that’s craziness, you are probably thinking. You think I read all the time. No. I don’t. Actually there is a lot of work to do in a used bookstore. It can be what you want to make of it. I chose to be – or try – to be on top of the incoming books. By now you know that I don’t like boxes of books lying around. Especially me. So I try to go through them quickly to SPS (sort, price, shelve). But lately I’m finding myself not so intense about them. Am I getting lax? Maybe so. Or maybe I’m starting to feel more comfortable with the store and relaxing some. Something to ponder, if one so chooses.
Merry Christmas! The store will be closed Christmas day but will reopen on Wednesday, December 26 at 10am. Until then, please enjoy the images I captured of the store with some holiday spirit.
O sing a Christmas Carol, a merry, joyous one.
And may there be no happier heart beneath the shining sun!
~from a 1916 postmarked post card.
I didn’t mean to let all this time get away from me between posts. Ah, the life of a used bookstore, I guess. I’ve just been busy with my routine and blogging became secondary. My weekly updates fell flat but there is always a New Year’s resolution to make. I’ll give that the old-used-bookstore try for 2013.
I’ve been working through the many boxes that have come into the store the past couple of months. But yet, isn’t that what I’m always doing? Very eclectic stuff. I’ve set aside books to post online. Mainly with Abebooks.com. I do have to come clean. At a recent Vermont Antiquarian Booksellers Association (VABA) meeting I got a scolding for mentioning that I boycott Amazon. WHY? they shouted. So I explained my reasoning and they informed me that I was being stupid because, unfortunately that is where they generally make the most sells. Rats! I shouted back. Mainly to myself. They told me it was easy so just do it. So I did. I posted one book. That’s where the market is and even though I may not agree with that (in principle) that’s the way of the market. Sometimes being stubborn is not such a good thing. Another New Year’s resolution.
I had a couple of anniversaries recently. One year of moving to the Marble Works and six years of owning the business. And throw in a wedding anniversary, too. Hard to believe six years of Otter Creek Used Books. It has become such a part of my life and so enjoyable. I’m very happy here in the Marble Works, and happy to own such a business.
I actually had a reason to post today and I got away from that. This Thursday – 12/13/2012 – the store will be open for Middlebury’s Stag & Doe Night. Part of the Very Merry Middlebury December celebrations. The store will be open additional hours, 5-8 pm. I’m offering 10% off all purchases during those hours to add to the fun.
Now we just need some snow!
Great A, little a,
The cat’s in the cupboard,
And she can’t see.
The book came in with a moldy cover but fortunately the pages were still okay. Phew! I rescued them and have some posted around the store as well as two pages framed. What is interesting about the frames is that they are reversible! What?! Yes, each page features a rhyme on each side so how could one side be covered up? If you get tired of one side just flip the frame to the other side and admire the other rhyme for a while.
Here is an example of the front of the frame:
And here is the back of the frame which is also under glass:
How clever, huh? Framing was done by Nancy of Artemis Framing, who also is the Marble Works gardener. The pages are sold separately or if interested, Nancy can mount and frame for you. Nancy is so talented!
Stop in and check them out.
Can you believe it? It has been a year. A full year in the Historic Marble Works. A year of windows, nooks, reorganization, change of staff (addition of a grandson, Greyson), new neighbors (can’t get any better than Costello’s Market!) and so much more.
To celebrate I decided to hold a week long celebration of a 50% sale. I want to do this in appreciation to everyone who’s been in to support the move and to meet new people. So stop in! Everything is on sale: lamps, bookends, other misc. stuff and of course, books! The sale runs through Saturday, September 22, 2012.