Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Myles of Books, Part the Third

The rest of the day was better, which is to say no further glaring problems were presented to him. He had perhaps a dozen folks in between ten and six, counting his initial walking spellchecker. About half mentioned the misspelling, and the other half asked if he really had miles of books. Only one asked him if he had read all of them.

A few even bought some books. Most notably a professor he had seen at the university bought an solid but not expensive book on the Iroquois in the Revolutionary War by Mintz. Topher had placed it cover side out on a shelf because of its attractive dust jacket. "Let the book work for you." his friend Arthur had said, and he always tried to keep that in mind.

By five o'clock he had made over a hundred and fifty dollars in the shop, and had orders from the internet for another fifty-five. After subtracting the cost of the books and credit card and internet fees Topher figured he made about one hundred and thirty dollars, give or take. Not great, he thought, but not a bad day either.

Arthur came in beard first just as he was finishing the numbers and gave an appreciative look around the shop. "I see you still have a few books left. Good. I guess you'll still be open tomorrow ."

"Yeah, sold a few but not all. That'll be next week. Thanks again for all the help in getting this off the ground." The two men shook hands.

"A pleasure my boy, a pleasure. Usually used books seem to be a game for the older crowd, so it is good to see a young person enter the trade. Not so jaded by the world, not so cranky." Arthur sat down in a comfortable leather-seated Dunning chair near the mystery section.

Topher sat down on a step stool opposite. "You're not so cranky."

Arthur's white teeth shone through his artificially dark beard. "No, but I don't have an open shop. And I certainly don't have to get out there every week to hunt books. That can turn some men into ogres. Take Harry Cherin, over at Open Door Books. Closed his shop 5 years ago. Best location in town, great books, now doesn't want to deal with the public at all, except over the internet. Doesn't even buy collections anymore. Just hunts library and estate sales. Last time he was at the Lugston sale I heard he got into fisticuffs with not one but two, " Arthur help up two plump fingers. "Two bookscouts. He won, but the ladies tossed all of them. They might have been allowed to stay if they had come close to real boxing rather than just flailing about, I heard. Art is often appreciated when you least expect it."

"What book were they fighting over?"

"What book?" Arthur chuckled. "No particular book I imagine. Too many hands in the same place. A shove or a grab. Tensions run high at some sales. There's not too many things at a sale I would fight over. Maybe a Marilyn Playboy."

Topher smiled. "I'll make sure I give him a wide berth. Anything good sell for you lately?"

Arthur looked absently over Topher's shoulder for a moment. "Ah yes. A nice little batch of letters written by William Allen White, editor of the Emporia Kansas Gazette. Good bits about barbed wire at the Republican convention podium and Taft being pried out of a bathtub. Biting stuff. Not too expensive these days, but great for Teddy Roosevelt and political collectors. And for those who like barbed wire and naked presidents I suppose."

"Well, if there is much call for naked presidents I'll have to start a section." Topher said as he stood.

"Don't, my boy. Such things always attract the wrong sort. How about an old bookman taking the younger out for dinner after his first professional day? "

"Sounds great. I still have hour or so to go. I better not close early my first day."

"Of course. Now, I'll just peruse your early American history section for any overlooked treasures." Arthur leaned forward and rose with just a bit of effort from the Dunning, and began quickly scanning the shelves. "Never pass up War of 1812 books, Topher. Even the new ones are good. Ahh, yes, here's Quimby. Excellent."

Arthur then caught the name of the shop on the glass as the sun poured through. "Topher, you should call Tom about his lettering work. You paid him before he did that, didn't you?"

Topher glanced up at the big window. "I already called him, but yeah, I paid him after the shelves. I figured he just had a bit left to do, so I'd get it out of the way."

Arthur chuckled. "Well, he'll feel bad about it. Just don't pay him early anymore."

Topher shook his head and went back to his records. Arthur's presence must have been good luck, as a few more customers came in and for a while the shop looked busy, with no comments on misspellings. The day ended strong, with the Quimby going to Arthur and other books of literature and religion sold as well. The extra two hundred dollars almost made up for the window.

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Blogger Enusan said...

Just leaving a note that I'm enjoying this little series. It sort of reminds me of why I've always looked longingly at the possibility of opening my own bookstore.

3:03 PM  

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