A young man came into the shop and asked me why all the book shops are closing. He said he wanted to open his own book shop and was looking for a place to begin. He asked if the other book shop in Strathalbyn ( Jeff’s Books ) had exactly the same books in it as I did and had he read them all, did I think?
I said that the owner is Caitlin and that she undoubtedly had read them – all 20000 of them and that all book sellers had an obligation to read all of their books before selling them. He said that is an incredible thing to be a part of.
I told him that no bookseller has the same books, that every bookshop is a different ecosystem, unique to itself and particular to the creator of the store. I stock books that I like on the confused basis that so will everyone else. I also enjoyed collecting children’s books and series for young readers. I do not enjoy the confusion of first edition points and I always mend covers with the wrong sticky tape. I have no knowledge of collectible or rare volumes and I have a problem with spiders in the autobiographies. My shop is next to a bakery which is good but all my spare funds end up there which is bad.
The only thing I would have in common with every other second hand book seller in the region is that we are all broke, although our landlords are not. Also I do not enjoy customers who demand a discount on already discounted books or who become discourteous when I cannot buy their books for my store or who would like to leave unpleasant pamphlets on my counter. Then they head angrily off to Jeff’s Books to try the same thing. Online communication means I can sometime warn Jeff’s Books before they are broadsided.
Sometimes customers come from Jeff’s Books armed with books titles and lists and words like pseudepigraphia hoping that I might have books like this at my shop, too. Then I have to quickly pretend that I know what pseudepigraphia means. But they go there first ‘because she certainly knows what she’s doing’.
I said that it’s good that you come down to see me too, and they replied: well, you are next to the bakery….
One customer told me that while other small towns may have fast food outlets such as Subway and KFC, Strathalbyn has books and an old fashioned lolly shop AND the Steam Ranger and you can’t get better than that!