The man who wanted books

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This happened a couple of years ago.

We have a bunch of books out on the porch for 50 cents each. Few good marks that have underlining, marginalia, highlighting, damaged bindings. Much of it is unsellable old mass market fiction and woefully dated textbooks. If I get the four bits I'm happy. Someone stole a bunch of them last week. I was delighted to be rid of them. They'd carefully removed the pages with 50 cents written on them. I guess they were hoping to sell to another used bookshop. If they got anything more for their trouble than an annoyed frown at being shown such dreck I'd be surprised.

A few years ago Durham raised the dumpster pickup fees. An inevitable redistribution of taxation because of the cuts in Federal spending. You daren't raise taxes nowadays so you raise user fees. Fair enough. We didn't need the dumpster badly enough to pay the higher rate. So we sent them back to BFI.

The little curbside containers that we get for free aren't large enough for us to dispose of the 'donations' of worthless books we sometimes find on the shop's porch. (When they were first introduced in Atlanta in the early 70s they were called Herbie the Curbie or Maynard Containers after then mayor Maynard Jackson.) Hence the bookcase on the porch. Buy them, steal them, anything.

A man came into day with what he said would be an astounding request. Most often they are looking for an old record they don't think anybody else has ever heard of. Or a book from childhood that no one else could ever want. Unsurprisingly enough the records are sought after rarities and the kid's books go for no less than $25 on eBay even in battered and tattered condition.

But the man from Burlington, NC (well known hereabouts for the splendors of its outlet malls) did have something new. A local hardware store was running a contest. The person who brings in the most books gets a digital camera. Lucky for him we didn't feel like driving to Burlington. He thought he was doing well but his main competitor was breathing hot on his neck, threatening to grab the prize.

He was looking for cheap books. I told him he could have everything on the porch for free. Then I remembered the dreaded books in the basement. Several years ago a favorite customer insisted that I buy a few dozen boxes of old paperbacks he wanted out of his house. He spends him time buying books, comics, magazines, videos, models, lord knows what else. Space must be at a huge premium. So I gave him five bucks a box. Mostly they were worthless. The kind of forgotten pop crap that haunts thrift stores nationwide. What made it worthwhile was a few early 70s blacksploitation and hippie drug-culture paperbacks that are fairly collectible nowadays.

The remained in the basement. When it rains that basement floods. The books must've been home to all manner of nasty fungi. So I told him he could take those as well. As they say around here he was as happy as a pig in shit.


Well as they say one man’s trash is anothers treasure. Keep us posted if he wins the camera!

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