Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It's A Wrap!


On Sunday mornings I languish in bed late -- at least until six-thirty, as Sunday is the one day of the week I don't wrap books. Instead I creep down to the kitchen, make a pot of strong black coffee (the way God intended), toast a bagel, and repair to my favorite chair by the french doors with a book. The pleasure of early morning reading is so consuming that sometimes I actually look up from the page just to savor the deliciousness of it. Today it was Frances Mayes's new book about traveling the world and leaving behind, temporarily, her beloved Tuscan home, Bramesole.

But that being said, I also love the timbre of the mornings when I DO wrap books. At precisely five a.m. my inner alarm clock sounds and I literally leap to the floor to begin. Down two flights of stairs, cat in tow, to the workbench beneath a shelf lined with the tools of the trade -- book cleaners, adhesives, fourteen kinds of erasers, bone folders, tiny scalpels -- all of which arrived from Talas in New York City, those amazing purveyors of all things archival. From the ceiling hang the rolls of wrapping paper and bubble wrap and on the shelves to the left are piled the various boxes, ribbons, mylar covers and polybags. To the right the latest orders await my ministrations.

After ten years, wrapping the books is still a satisfying ritual. Most sellers I've talked with find it their least favorite part of the business, but in some strange way it feels to me like a connection with the book's new owner, a gifting in a sense. Not long ago I read an old book about a New England bookshop which began operation in the 30's. The owner was discussing a deluge of Christmas orders and how she wanted to send the books off into the world wearing their holiday best. Remembering an album full of old Christmas cards she'd acquired, she hit upon the idea of using the face of the cards against plain white paper on the top of each package. I will probably not remember much else about this book, but I will always remember Margaret Hard and how much she cared about the esthetics. How cool to slip back in time and find a kindred spirit!

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