Sunday, February 28, 2010

On Books and Things

A few words about used books- since much of my list this time consists of them.

I could regale you with endless stories of being patient and finding exactly the book I was looking for on the shelves at Goodwill, but will hold back and just give the most recent example. For almost a year now, I had been looking for a copy of Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer-winning Gilead. I got so desperate that I held my breath last November, and allowed myself to cross the threshold of B&N for the first time in months. (Bookstores are crack to me, and I can’t afford to support my habit.) I headed straight for the R section of fiction, and found, to my dismay, that they had no copies in stock. I did buy a copy of Home, also by Robinson, and set in the same fictional Iowa town, and enjoyed it immensely. But of course, that only made me want Gilead that much more. So a couple of weeks ago I steeled myself and braved the retail giant again. This time there was a copy, which I gleefully purchased for $14.00 and am savoring now. BUT- you guessed it- last weekend when I went on my rounds of thrift stores, guess what was smiling at me from the stacks at GW?

A pristine copy of Gilead. $1.99. I bought it anyway. My mom will love it too.

As many of you (if there is indeed anyone out there!) know, I am a pre-published writer. Many of my online friends are writers too, of both the published and pre variety, so I am well aware of the downside of buying books second hand. In these times, though, and for gifting purposes, I simply have to concede- it just makes sense. Still, I know what it takes to write a novel, and when my writer friends have a new book coming out, I am a common sight at the desk of my local Barnes and Noble preordering a copy the moment release dates are announced. I do have my loyalties and want my friends to get their share. I truly want them to shine in an industry that has felt the crunch as much or more than any other.

Many of the books I buy used are replacement copies of those that were originally bought at retail and loved into dilapidation by my family or grew legs and walked out of my classroom unexpectedly. Several I have bought recently are intended for my now nearly independent son, whose own bookshelves are peppered with copies of my favorites he swiped when he left, and are alternately missing some very important literary works, such as that essential bathroom reading: Something Under the Bed is Drooling by Bill Watterson which I picked up for seventy-four cents the other day, as opposed to $7.99 new.

One book I bought last week when we were visiting the boy in Flagstaff, is a bit of an anomaly. Christmas: The American Annual of Christmas Literature and Art, by Randolph E. Haugan, has a copyright date of 1954. It appealed to the vintage kitsch lover in me, and although I don’t know who will receive it, I happily slapped down my $1.99. The only comparison I have is on ebay, where the opening bid for a copy available right now is $5.99. Guess that will have to do.

Non-book items added to my stash in the past couple of weeks include:

Two new chrome record album frames from Urban Outfitters, marked at $15.00 each, mine for $5.99 each. Snooze will like them, although he really needs a bunch more for all the albums he has hung.

A brand new, tags on, One Fish Two Fish T-shirt, also for the boy, tag price, $18.00, my price, $3.99.

A green, black and white plaid Yak-Pak messenger bag, tags on, from Pac-Sun, retail $48.00, Hospice half-price day price, 5.00. Daughter Shriek was with me when I got it, but maybe she’ll still be surprised in December.

A jar candle for my friend Cynthia who loves candles as much as I do- Retail approximately $5.99, Hospice price, $2.00.

A cuter than cute Starbucks “Create-Your-Own Tumbler” kit, which has nearly as many potential recipients as I have people to buy for, retail price, $27.95, my price, $6.99.

Totals for this entry: Running totals:

Retail prices: $157.92 $361.88

My prices: $34.68 $53.64

My savings to date: $123.24 $308.24

No comments:

Post a Comment