Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Bottom Shelf

Have I mentioned how much I've been enjoying volunteering at the Bottom Shelf? Yesterday we sold "The Concise History of the World", a tome weighing about 8 pounds, for $.10. I have to rein in my enthusiasm sometimes because I fear it might put the customers off. And it's a kind of editorializing that is probably inappropriate. If I worked there more often, Debbie would probably have to counsel me on this behavior. 

I can't help but exclaim as the dime passes from the customer to me..."Geez....the History of the World for a dime??? Can you imagine what people would have paid for this information in the universe before Google?" Customer grunts and leaves, throwing me a bit of a look as he exits.

Two young smiling fellows saunter in asking about Gary Larson books. I tell them, brilliantly, that the books would be in the humor section. Sometimes I surprise even myself.  "And that would be where?" they ask and I'm stumped. They've plumbed the depth of my knowledge. I have to find out from Debbie that it's the bottom shelf on one of the portable shelving units. Debbie knows this pair and asks them, "Riding your unicycles today?" They answer with a negative..guess it wasn't a unicycle kind of day.

Next, a chap buys "Angela's Ashes" and I have to tell him it was one of my favorite books. This time, the customer engages and we chat about Frank McCourt and his brother (a kind of bad boy author) and how disappointing the movie version of the book was. He tells me he buys every used copy of the book he can and gives them to people as gifts. He loves the book so much, he hopes everyone will get to read it at least once. Cost him one thin dime for that pleasure. 

A very tall woman and her very tall son show up looking for Kafka and Ayn Rand. Oddly, for a reader of this type, she's surprised the books are shelved by author. I think to myself, "How else would you do it?" They cruise around for a while and exit with a bag of books for $4.00 - no Kafka and no Ayn Rand however. This job is like giving away candy to kids. People are usually so pleased with their finds - they cannot help but leave happy even if they don't end up with precisely what they want.

Next, a $20.00 sale. At $.10 a book, you realize $20.00 buys 200'd need a truck to haul them away. I've had people cart off $5.00 worth of ten centers which is unbelievable. 50 books for $5.00! But these two women purchasers are buying more expensive children's books of which you get far fewer for the twenty bucks. They explain they'll be using them for table decorations for a book signing. They're going to make bird houses out of the books by leaning them against each other and putting one on top for the roof. And they'll all be given away to the kids attending the event. They cheerfully demonstrate their architectural idea on the counter. This is the second or third time I've had customers buying books for decoration. In October, we had a large sale to a woman who was giving the books away for Halloween.  

People bring in book donations with all kinds of stories. People who are moving usually like to talk about the daunting task of downsizing. Others come in tight-lipped and shove bags over the counter. A break-up or a death?....probably the sad end of something. I love the people who buy the books at the store, read them and then bring them back to recycle again. We don't even have to write the price on the book...just reshelve them. We don't take Encyclopedias or Dictionaries. No market for these since Google. Bibles, which or course don't go out of date, sell for $1.00 and they move briskly. 

Throw away your National Geographic collection! It is worth nothing. We don't take them, nor does any other used bookstore or thrift store. Travel books are fairly popular and when I ask, "Going to England or ______?", the answer is more often negative than positive. People buy them to look at the photos or just to thumb through for amusement. You have to be careful about buying an out of date travel book to actually travel with. One woman told me she'd done this very thing and spent half a day looking for a church in Italy which, it turned out, had been bombed flat during the second world war. Not that the travel book was all that old, but the editors hadn't kept up. This lady had me in tears with her funny story. 

Richard volunteers also and the last time he worked, Debbie had him cull out the romance section. He learned a lot about women's fantasies from the "bodice-ripper" covers and worried about a possible testosterone loss from such proximity to all the happy endings. He's become very good on the garbage detail - Debbie (who made ten or more trips to the dumpster on Saturday) appreciates his help with this task and with other heavy lifting jobs. 

More later.......

1 comment:

  1. I need bird guides, Peterson, Sibley's, etc. Will you grab them if they come in and aren't a fortune? thanks.