Monday, October 27, 2008

Bookstore Widows (and Widowers)'s Lori Borgman, a little bit tongue-in-cheek, I hope, describes what it's like to be a bookstore widow (something my wife has experienced for too many years to count). I know that I see a lot of myself in what Borgman says here about her husband. A few years ago, I dreamed of chucking the old day job and making our living as a full-time book scout. In fact, I did pretty well two or three weekends a month, often turning a profit of a couple of hundred dollars a weekend as I bought books from one Houston bookstore and sold my purchases to another on the same day. It was all a matter of knowing the stock of the various dealers and what they were likely to want to add to their inventory.

Then things changed, mostly due to the internet, I think, and dealers seemed more aware of what was available just a few miles from their front doors. All of a sudden, true bargains became almost impossible to find and dealers knew more about the real value of what was on their own shelves than ever before. Let's just say that I really miss the good old days - and the extra cash I earned for the price of a few gallons of gasoline and a day spent visiting local bookstores, something I would have likely been doing anyway.

This is part of what Borgman had to say about her husband and his love of books and bookstores but do read the whole piece for all the gory details. I suspect you'll see a little, or a lot, as the case may be, of yourself in Mr. Borgman:
The husband loves books. We have a large used bookstore at a major intersection near the house, conveniently located on the way to everywhere.

I'm not saying he spends a lot of time there, but in six states the store could officially be registered as his common-law wife.

On occasion, when he would "forget" his cell phone, I had to send one of the kids to the bookstore to tell him dinner was ready and it was time to come home.

The husband is not alone in his passion; there is an entire breed of book lovers who lose track of time wandering among the shelves. They are bookies of a different breed and not the kind who place bets.

A bona fide book lover is someone who loves the smell of paper. He or she loves the feel of the book as much as the look of the book. If someone could bottle the smell of ink on paper in an aftershave, I'm pretty sure the husband would wear it.
Mr. Borgman, I feel like I've known you forever.


  1. Ah, a kindred spirit. I love the heft and smell of books. Friends and relatives won't accompany me to bookstores because they can never drag me out again...

  2. Can we just marry a pile of books? Oh, wait...

  3. Stories like this one certainly strike a familiar chord, don't they? I'd love to have coffee with the guy sometime just to talk books.