>Notes on book buying: remaindered friends

>I’ve been pretty good lately about not buying more books than I can read. Not totally good, but not as bad as I’ve sometimes been. When I’m in town I do like to go into our local independent bookseller, The Bookstack, and I almost always buy something, but I’ve been trying to read what I buy there promptly, so that has slowed me down. Reasonably promptly. And I’ve always loved used bookstores, which we have one of here also, but I usually only go in there if there’s something in particular I’m looking for. The other day, for example, I wanted something by Booth Tarkington and it turned out that store had one of his novels published in 1943, for just $5. So I now have a copy of the obscure Kate Fennigate.

Then there’s the Green Valley Book Fair, about which I’ve written here before. Today was the last day of the current session and it felt like a hot lazy Sunday – it was a hot lazy Sunday – so I decided to head up there instead of pulling weeds or whatever else it was I should have been doing. I didn’t buy too much. I found a copy of John Updike’s Terrorist, and there was Gary Shteyngart’s The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, and a few other things that looked interesting. But I was especially struck that the sale (it’s remaindered books, including books from damaged cases that can’t be sold retail) included the books of a number of friends and teachers of mine. I won’t embarrass them by mentioning their names, but I spotted about 10, all of which I already owned (and at least one of which, I believe, I bought right there). Now some of these are hardcovers that are hard to sell retail because the paperback has long since appeared, but others just didn’t find a market and so there are . . . remainders.

Then I headed over to the Barnes & Noble in Harrisonburg, not far from Green Valley, because I had a 15% off coupon. First I browsed the literary journals and found only one that I hadn’t seen before, so I picked up a copy of the Seattle Review and eventually I’ll do a LitMag Wave commentary for that issue. I looked for Ron Currie, Jr.’s book God is Dead but they didn’t have it in any of the likely spots on the shelves. When I asked Customer Service, they said that they’d had two copies but had sold both and were expecting more. Good for Ron! (I couldn’t help myself and told the guy that I’d tell Ron about the sales, and he pretended to be impressed that I knew the author.) I found a copy of Tarkington’s The Magnificent Ambersons and also took Michael Chabon’s new book so my coupon would have maximum impact. I picked up (as in lifted briefly off the shelf) the new Marianne Wiggins book and one or two other intriguing titles, but decided I had enough. While waiting to check out my eye was drawn to a . . . thing . . . that struck me as the perfect entry to a story I’ve been thinking about. The [thing] cost $9 but it’s now sitting on my desk and will be very useful when I begin that story. I may eventually reveal what this handsome thing is . . .

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  1. >Cliff, I’m impressed by your vow to cut back on the book buying… my shelves are groaning, there are piles on my floor, my Visa bill is swelling… I’m trying to remind myself that with my two-day shipping account at Amazon and a bookstore down the block that can get a book in same amount of time, I can afford to wait to buy until I’m ready to read a book RIGHT NOW…. (god forbid it’s not there right when I crave it)…. The Magnificent Ambersons! I’m so curious! I remember being much affected by that movie (with Joseph Cotton and Agnes Moorhead, I think) when I was thirteen…

  2. >Don’t be too impressed by my vow. It’s pretty meaningless. I have a huge house and I’ve run out of room . . .

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