Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Please, Br'er Rabbit, Don't Put Me in the Corner!
Hey friends, today I'd like to introduce you to The World's Best Place to Spend a Rainy Afternoon.
It's not much to look at on the outside...
Unless the sight of crammed bookshelves makes you salivate.
The store is just a few miles from my childhood home in Raleigh, NC, so I've been slobbering over it ever since it opened back in the mid 70's. (Be assured, I was a mere babe then.)
See the shelves on the outside? Those books are sold on the honor system for 10-25 cents a piece. Just drop your change in the slot in the door, and the store will donate the money from those near freebies to NC Public Radio. Last year it was enough change to provide This American Life to the local station! That's a hefty bit of pocket change!
Before I gush on and on about Reader's Corner, I should give a little explanation/disclaimer/debate topic of the day. Here goes:
I have a rule about buying used books. It is: NEVER BUY USED BOOKS UNLESS THE BOOK HAS BEEN OUT IN BOOKSTORES FOR AT LEAST TWENTY YEARS.
I never thought much about buying used books until I had a book in bookstores. Did you know for your average trade paperback book, the standard publishing contract gives the author 7.5% of the book's list price? So if I pay $10 for a new book at my local bookstore, the author gets 75 cents. (Cha-ching! Let's hire a limo!) But if I get the same book at a fine establishment like Reader's Corner, the poor author gets nothing. Nada. Rien. Poor little author. The world is a cruel, cruel place.
What's that you say? "But what if a book has been out fifty years? Shouldn't the author still get her 75 cents? What if it's been out twenty-one years? Your rule makes no sense."
I say, "You're right. It's a silly rule. But I had to draw a line somewhere."
"Then why go to used bookstores at all?"
Okay. But what will people do with all the old books they don't want anymore? Add them to the landfill? Stack them in big piles in their bedroom until their doors won't open all the way and their husbands have to pass them pancakes under the door to keep them from starving to death?
And what about people who really can't afford $14.95, but desperately want not just to read the book, but to OWN the book. And what about Skinflint Aunt Trudy who only buys used, so that she can afford to drive her cats to Las Vegas for her annual week of gambling and kitty massages? You want to stand in Aunt Trudy's way?
To all that I say, "I can't solve the world's problems. It's just my rule. Make up your own."
But before you turn your nose up at Reader's Corner, take a peek.
And a sniff.
Ah! Deliciously musty. The perfume of old books.
Reader's Corner was where I found Judy Blume, (we must, we must, we must increase our bust) and where I bought my first record album (Simon and Garfunkel--an oldie, even then.)
And it's where I even found a few books I hid from my mother. (No freak outs allowed, Mom. They weren't that bad.)
And now it's where Todd and I snatch up volumes of The American Guide series, put out by WPA writers. Plus other junk that looks good.
But one of the best things about Reader's Corner has nothing to do with books.
Well, almost nothing. Take a closer look around the store and you'll find photos and various oddities taped all over the bookshelves and walls. These treasures were all discovered within the pages of the used books.
(Click on the photos for a better look.)
Any of those belong to you?
Some are bizarre, some are hilarious, and some are just plain wild.
At least they seemed wild in the 1940's.
I hope you enjoyed the bookstore tour. So what do you think about buying used books? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Have a wonderful Wednesday, y'all!
PS. Speaking of the wild, I thought I'd join in on the hoopla over this book turned movie. Has anyone seen it?