Saturday, July 01, 2006


Today was a book sale day which means the orders had to be wrapped, shower taken, bagel eaten, and make-up applied by 7:30 a.m., so we could grab the book bags and head for Hudson. It's a small sale which used to be a good one, but isn't anymore for more reasons than I want to bother enumerating. Despite it's failing attractions, we go anyway because booksellers on the whole are a hopeful lot. Even the morose ones (and there are some) harbor a secret flicker of hope that just maybe a treasure will emerge from the chaff.

Today we got there third in line, which is okay by me at this small sale, as the goodies aren't exactly standing up and whistling Dixie. The first fifteen minutes or so of the hour-long wait for the sale to open are the best because it's usually just Paul, Linda and us. Paul and Linda are two of my favorite sellers because a.) I like them and b.) they' re "old school" like we are -- no electronic devices to scan ISBN numbers and no aggressive behavior. They rely on their wits, experience, and love of the books and the business the same way we do. Soon enough the "weekend warriors," or "penny sellers," or whatever you want to call them, show up and then it's a countdown to bedlam.


Thirty-plus pulsating bodies jammed into a space the size of a master bathroom. Great sport.

Anyway, Paul, Linda and I were talking about book sales in general when Paul brought up a peculiar phenomonon that I truly, even after all these years, thought was my own private place in hell. Every once in awhile you get into a sale, hit your favorite category early -- and FREEZE. The rows of books beckon, your eyes scan them ever more frantically, but the titles blur around the edges and bleed into one giant block of nameless nothing. Meanwhile all around you hands are flying like flags at a NASCAR race, books are thumping into bags and boxes -- and there you stand as inert as the Lincoln Monument.

"There ought to be a name for it," Paul said.

I agree. I even tried to think of one, I truly did, but no luck. The best I could come up with was "bookfuzz" which describes the first part of the sensation pretty well, but doesn't even begin to grasp the panic that ensues before you can talk yourself out of the trees. For the mental health of booksellers everywhere I'm going to keep thinking on it though. As they say in psychology -- before you can tame it, you gotta name it!


Mo said...

I always knew you could be a little fuzzy. :) Just kidding.

Your loving daughter...

P.S. Your comments are working now.

Unknown said...

I call it "Book Freeze", and down here we call the penny sellers "The Scan Monsters" - a name which also describes their behavior!

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