Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Two Inacdotes

Ina and the Los Alamos County Fire Code 
Ina came into the store a few weeks ago, and her eyes were shifting, her head swiveling, her ears pricked for eavesdroppers and spies. She beckoned me closer so that she could whisper without being overheard (although, because she wasn't wearing her hearing aids, she spoke in a whisper you could hear in a sawmill).

"I see the Southwest history section doesn't have many books in it," she said. "I can help."

Against my better judgment I asked, "How?"

She explained that she had two tall bookcases full of books on the Santa Fe Trail. "I could bring them all in, and you could display them in the Southwest history section. Then if someone wanted to buy one, you could say that they're not for sale, but you could order whatever the customer wanted." I said that her offer was very generous from friend to friend, but really bad business for us to showcase books we couldn't sell.

As you know, she hears only what she wants to hear, and she continued, "The fire department came by the other day. They said my two tall bookcases were in front of the windows and had to be moved. I guess it has to do something with the fire code—they have to be able to get into the house somehow.  And I have to replace the windows, too. Anyway, I while I'm bringing my house up to code and getting new windows, I thought you could display the books that are in my bookcases."

Yes, why pay for commercial storage when you can warehouse your books for free at a bookstore?

Ina and a Great Medieval Tradition
Back in the Middle Ages, books were a rare and expensive commodity. Practically the only book available to the general reader was the Bible, and churches often chained their Bibles securely in the churches so that those who could read could use the books, and those who couldn't read could be read to or could just look at the illuminations. In modern times, we display the rare and desirable books in glass cases or sometimes even on the shelves in rare and antiquarian shops, where book thieves can snag them and people like Ken Sanders bring book thieves to justice.

If I were a stealin' kind of woman, which I ain't, I might be tempted to snag a signed first edition of Cormac McCarthy's Suttree or Stella Gibbons's Cold Comfort Farm. My soul is worth more than $15,000, however, so I would just give thanks that the book is here in the world with me, and move on. I am not likely to steal a $7.00 book.

Ina has a new book out, yet another pastiche based on the works of her favorite author. And of course she thinks that it is desirable. She gave us a copy to display with the books for sale. It will discourage theft.