I’ve gone back to doing a bit of bookselling again through Amazon. I have mixed feelings being in league with the evil empire, but I comfort myself that at least I am not abusing their warehouse workers.
What I like about bookselling is that it means I am buying books (yard sales, discount stores, etc.) and thoughtfully evaluating them. I even keep some of them to read and give others away. There are worse ways to spend my time.
I also like that some of them end up with found objects inside. Yesterday I picked up a copy of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “A Coney Island of the Mind,” and found a couple of things with a woman’s name on them. One is a 2006 invoice to the “Radio Foundation”; it looks like she may have transcribed some things related to the “Bob and Ray” show. It also included the receipt from when she bought the book at the Atticus Bookstore in Amherst, MA in 2001 (along with a scholarly journal and two greeting cards). Finally, it included a nicely preserved maple leaf.
I looked her up. She’s a journalist of some distinction now, but the writer in me likes imagining the young woman buying the book, probably while she was in college, then a few years later finally getting to reading it while she juggled some freelance work. One minute she’s reading “Junkman’s Obbligato” and the next minute she’s putting her earphones back on, listening to Bob and Ray–maybe one of their “Biff Burns, Sportscaster” bits.
Maybe she then took a day off, hiked in the woods where she sat and read more, picked up a maple leaf, and tucked it into the book, preserving it for someone like me to come along years later and find it.