I started this blog as a “companion” to my bookstore, The Literary Heart, and to talk about books that have influenced me over the years. However, I’m breaking from that strategy for a minute to talk about how perplexing it is to me that books aren’t always viewed as valuable objects.
I know they’re just ink, paper, cardboard, and glue. But they’re also full of a person’s stories, dreams, yearnings, and imaginations. Someone took the time to sit in front of a typewriter, or word processor, or computer for hours at a time to gather their thoughts and turn them into something scary, wonderful, disturbing, informative, awe-inspiring, gorgeous, or sad. True…some of them are duds. There are some books that I will probably never pick up again. But what amazes me most, are the number of books I find in thrift stores, or on Craig’s List, in almost brand new condition with personal inscriptions from the authors of those books.
Does this mean that someone took the time to stand in line somewhere to wait, sometimes for hours, for this particular author to sign their book, only to toss it aside nonchalantly a few years later? If someone took the time to sit and sign their books, and I took the time to actually meet that person and get their signature on a book…I’m not sure I could ever get rid of it, even if it turns out I didn’t like the book after I read it. After all, I created a connection of sorts to that book and the person who created it.
Are we so wrapped up in disposing that we can sever that connection without a second thought?
I suppose so because, to date, I have found at least 6 books signed and/or inscribed by authors to someone. I wish I could find these people and ask them how they came across their books. Did they wait in line for signatures? Did someone who loved them buy them the books with the signature already there? Did they come across the book in a thrift store already signed and did they donate it back to the thrift store after reading it? Am I the only one who feels slightly offended at the idea that these items would be considered cast-offs?
I wonder how authors feel about it. Honestly, as a book seller, I hope the author’s signature boosts my sales and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like that. But at the same time, it makes me a little sad that someone’s story, along with something as personal as their signature, ends up on a thrift store shelf selling for less than a buck.
- Man pays $14 for signed Picasso at thrift store, sells it for $7,000 (todayentertainment.today.msnbc.msn.com)