On discovering myself in a used book store

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Browsing through the shelves of a second hand book store (always exciting), I came across a copy of The Ragged Believers.

Nothing particularly interesting about that.

Except it’s one of my novels.

My first thought was – at least someone’s read it.

Second thought: Or have they?

I took the book off the shelf and flipped through it, looking for signs of reading, maybe a name at the front, or pages turned down at the corner, or pencil marks in the margin indicating particularly memorable passages, or dried tears on pages containing particularly moving episodes.

Nothing.

Did someone receive it as a gift and take it straight round to the used bookstore without even reading it?

I picture the PR (Potential Reader) unwrapping it and, with the donor hovering, exclaiming, “I can’t wait to read it …” and then as soon as the donor is off the scene, the PR thinking, “Thanks for nothing, a no name book by a no name author. Best I can do with it is part exchange it at the second hand bookstore for something worth reading.”

Or maybe the PR actually read it … and cared so little for it, he or she promptly dumped it at the second hand store, begging the question (well, my question) – How could the reader not treasure and cherish such a masterpiece? Maybe save it as an heirloom to pass on to future generations. Or treasure it to savour over and over again, or to quote favourite passages from, or simply for the joy of possessing a copy, just as you might treasure any work of art.

Then, moving from artistic to mercenary injury, I think – I’m being gypped! I got a meagre 10% from the original sale, while the feckless PR has made a few dollars in part exchange at the used book store, and the used book store owner in turn will rake in all of the second hand selling price, so it’ll have been sold three times over – and all I’ve got is still my original, miserly ten per cent.

It’s a tough life, finding oneself discarded.

But at least it gives me something to write about.

 

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2 thoughts on “On discovering myself in a used book store

  1. I know the feeling Robert! I got a lovely e-mail from a reader with nice comments about reading my first book. In her message she told me she had picked it up at Rhoda’s Flea Market , signed and everything . Signed of course to the person that didn’t see fit to keep it but decided to sell it for a few cents . She probably spent about the same amount I made on it. Something seems wrong about that but I try to dwell on the fact that my book got another reader and that reader went to a book store and bought my other books. We poorly paid authors need to take comfort wherever we can get it.

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