February 8th, 2007

book and glasses

Second hand reputation...

So I wandered into our fabulous used book shop here in the City of Subdued Excitement today. Henderson's (I may have mentioned it on this blog before, it's one of the reasons we moved to this place) is one of those deceptive stores - it has a limited store frontage facing the street, but once you get inside - hooo boy - it stretches back a FULL CITY BLOCK, there are wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves absolutely bursting with everything from Asimov to Wittgenstein, poetry and plumbing and barbeques and art and librettos and history and yes, fiction, lots and lots of fiction. rdeck and I have been in there many a time, always coming out book-laden and light-walleted.

A few times I've been in there on previous occasions I've seen copies of my books around, one or two of them, it wasn't as though they had been flung out of people's homes in disgust but there was... a presence there. Today - there was nothing. Zip. Nada. I checked in every reasonable position in which it was possible to find these books, and there was absolutely nothing with my name on it.

So I said as much to the owner, who happened to be at the cash register when I was paying for my current purchases (yes, I bought books! So sue me!)

Not only did he know who I was, instantly, but he said, "They sell, you know. They come in every so often, your books, and I ALWAYS buy them if someone's offering them, because they always sell. You have quite a little following here."

What came to mind was literally, WHEEEEE!

Yes, it's a used-book store. No, I get nothing from these sales. Yes, I am ambivalent about their presence in a used-book store to begin with (*I* never get rid of books *I* like, which makes me, you know, wonder about why they would be there...)

But what that guy said... that implies a certain amount of name recognition.

Knowing that, knowing that I have that, makes me feel really good about where I am right now as a writer.

If you have to have books of yours in a second-hand store, the fact that they are recognised instantly and don't linger in that store long before finding new homes goes a long way to making me actually feel a lot better about their presence in the store in the first place. I am certain that there are plenty of books which come to various second-hand stores to die, as it were - but this store, for me, is not such a place. It is a House of Transition, where books land like great sentient alien butterflies, passing from one hand into another, being known, being read, being loved.

I like that idea, actually.

I hope that the new stuff sells well enough to send a few shekels tumbling my way. That's financial reward. But the thing I've always liked about writing has never really been the money, but the fact that other people have given me the gift of their appreciation, their affection, their understanding. And those, I'm getting out of this deal, in droves. And in many ways it's better than gold.