The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun
It's a tedious work, sometimes and online markets ones, principally Amazon, are reasons of stress, sometimes.
Who are owners of second-hand books that will end up in the market? In general relatives of dead people. They want to give away the books of their beloved ones as soon as possible. In general these dead people are in possession of large libraries.
It is ironic maybe to write this, but at first, when I bring home a second hand book, in particular when this book has been "lived", it is old, it has been in a house per decades (not just bought and read and then passed away; I classify these books as new, they don't have any kind of energy and they are free to be read when a customer wants) it is not said that I can read it immediately because I still feel the "presence" of the previous owner and sometimes that "presence" blocks my reading.
Only the time will "wash" the book from the previous owner, and once set free and mine I will read it.
It's ironic but absolutely true what tells mr Bythell when, at some point explains the excitment of customers for a still-not-yet-open box plenty of books. It is true: a new box plenty of used books is a magnet for every customer, I can tell you that.
Time ago a british lady suggested me to look at their new arrivals and like a baby I picked up various books of great interest, let me add this.
But why this?
In part it happens when there are regular customers, to my point of view in the bookshop; they know titles, books, where they are located and they want to see, although there are wagons of books, new old books; some novelties; not because that ones are insufficients, but because, to my point of view, what the customer wants to find and sometimes can't find also in a big bookshop is The Book; that book in grade to make the difference, also when they buy a lot of books. In this lot-of-books, there is always a special book, more appreciated, more loved, more wanted, more desired. It's the one dreamed, researched, desired, wished, in these still unopen boxes. As children do during the Christmas's time opening, plenty of expectations, their beloved gifts for Christmas and thinking that maybe Santa read their letters and brought them what requested.
Ordering books is not anymore an activity of a bookseller thanks to the internet and the simplicity of finding books online.
You know: old books means also traces of old owners. Not just "felt" but also real. A special dedication, a postcard, an old, fascinating bookmark, a telephone number with a name, an address.
Personally the most exciting thing I found in a book were some boat-tickets of a couple. Nice people I discovered.
The author tells he discovered in a book 100 letters of condolences.
It is strange, but these signs create connections, open doors in unknown existences. I find fascinating second-hand books because of it, telling to you the truth. They have a past, they have a history; they can whisper this story to us, they can let us imaginate worlds and existences.
The second-hand bookshop of Bythell sells also stamps and second-hand typewriters, like also "sixpenny horoscopes compiled by somebody who claimed to have foretold the Japanese earthquake" writes, ironically.
It was interesting the read that an important copy of the Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, per generations, numerous generations in a Scottish family, ended up in the hands of an italian, hoping that the tradition of passing this copy from generation to generation would continue.
For making more money Bythell created the Random Book Club and during a november day, when sadness, cold days "whisper" a research of good humor, a lot of customers bought Terry Pratchett's books. This author like "John Buchan, P. G. Wodehouse, E. F. Benson and many others, is an author whose books I can never find enough of. They sell quickly and usually in large numbers. In one day last year we sold our entire Penguin Wodehouse section of over twenty books, all bought by three." I don't doubt it.
"Antonio Tabucchi and his Pereira Maintains was a book I greatly enjoyed but Blindness was astonishing. There are few other books in which I have felt so completely immersed and – ironically – visualised so clearly" tells Shaun.
There are difficult books, books that you wouldn't want to sell, but that they sell and you are in that business and you can't avoid to do that; books, that, for this reason, generate some delicate questions: where will they end up?
Other customers are confused by several writers: One day Shaun met someone asking for To Kill a Mockingbird convinced that the author wasn't Harper Lee but J.D.Salinger.
Last week in the second-hand bookstore a discussion with british people regarding the book written in Paris by Hemingway. I didn't remember the correct one, and no one knew the answer just that it wasn't the one I mentioned. It happens.
Diary of a Bookseller is a brilliant, ironic, realistic "diary of a Scottish bookseller;" a bookseller who sells online, to physical customers, buying collections of hundreds of books of people passed away, and trying to make the difference in a market plenty of discount.
A great and enjoyable reading.
I thank Melville for the copy of this book.
Anna Maria Polidori