Monday, July 15, 2013


In a way you can have almost too many books. That happens when you run out of shelves to put them on. 

For the older reader with gimpy knees the internet is a blessing when you’re shopping for used books. And I live in a college town. The biggest used book store runs heavily to books used for the local universities and community college. And you have to hope that somebody in the area sold off the book you’re looking for. And I’ve never had much luck in that department.

For example. Back in the late ‘70’s Franco Zefferelli did a mini series on Jesus of Nazareth with English novelist Anthony Burgess doing the script. Afterwards Burgess expanded the screenplay into a novel. A respectful but rather irreverent at times novel. The local library had a copy, for awhile. It mysteriously disappeared. No record of it being checked out or discarded. Just gone. Can’t imagine why. Finally managed to find a copy on the net. Eugene’s rep for liberalism only goes so far.

The net is good for finding decent used hard back copies of some books that I originally purchased in standard paperback volumes. Often for less than I paid for the paperbacks. Darned arthritis. Makes it hard to deal with the paperbacks. Especially the older ones that had really narrow margins. Once you get to the middle of Stone’s The Agony and the Ecstasy you’re beginning to really sympathize with Michelangelo in more ways than one. And we won’t mention the tiny print. Bifocals really are a blessing.

I usually use either Amazon or Alibris. Both act as a hub for used bookstores. Some as far away as Australia. And shipping is usually a standard price if you don’t mind waiting awhile. The sellers list a price and the condition of the book. They’re usually pretty accurate. Just remember that if you finally find that copy of the book you bought back in the eighties loaned out and never got back that the description “good” might just mean “pretty good considering the blessed thing is older than three of my nephews.”

There are some books I wish could talk. My copy of Twelve O’clock High was apparently a gift to an American serving in Bosnia back in the nineties. Apparently he came home via Australia and unloaded the book there. Somebody did anyway. Book went around the world by the time it came to me. Some have beautiful bookplates in the front. Some have a name and phone number. Some have been bounced around a bit but the pages are in good shape. The words aren’t going anywhere and scrapbooking tape mends the ravages of time.

Some folks wouldn’t dream of dog earring a page to mark your place. And I’ve got a copy of Bowden’s Killing the Hidden Waters with extensive underlining and lots of margin notes. Careful underlining and neatly written thoughtful notes. Their handwriting is a heck of a lot better than mine.

And I don’t remember the name of the bookstore but their motto was along the lines of “buy a book someone else loved and save a tree.” Amen.

No comments: