Saturday, May 19, 2012
As a young person, I remember tryin' to get my mom to give me a dime to buy candy. A dime! It didn't seem like much to me, but you'd think I'd asked for the keys to the car. Even on the day I graduated kindergarten, she was reluctant to come through, and lost her patience the eighth time I asked.
In my adolescence I would take the train to the city in the quest for used records. I guess my parents' thriftiness carried through to me because the most I'd spend wasn't that much. The works of the Minutemen, Sonic Youth, and Discharge were too popular to make their way to the used bins, so I had to wait until later in life to investigate these artists. What did make it was a mix of crap, treasure, and the middling.
Grown up but still young at heart, I came to live in America's finest city. I would browse in used bookstores, but particularly I was (and am) attracted attracted to the bins of cheap books in front. When I started working at Green Apple, well, I really started acquiring cheap books. My history collection was diverse, eclectic, and cost-effective. I couldn't believe the amazing titles which lingered, neglected, on our shelves. The Greatest Explosions In History by Ragnar Benson is just the creme de la creme of the hundreds of titles which compressed my vertebrae on the commute home.
Then they did work on our flat and having to move all my stuff around convinced me I was over-extended. "What's the point?" my roommate asked. "You'll never have time to read those books." For some people, the aesthetic of stacks of books on the living room floor is not a winning one. Trying to sell them wasn't gonna win either. When you bought stuff beat up for $2 in the first place, your return typically is low. The amazing Community Thrift store at 17th and Valencia benefited from my fifteen grocery bags of quality titles.
So while perhaps not a great investment for resale, the bins in front of Green Apple Books are full with the middling and the transcendent, with perhaps just a touch of crap thrown in so as not to offend the gods. I sure kept the Bosch and Bruegel tomes I found there. And now I mention the little bit of bin-like magic we have upstairs in our main store, back in the Red Delicious room--one case of sale books. Not sale books like our remainders tables (brilliant in themselves, but a subject for another time). These sale books were either taken at our buy counter for a low price, so we can put them on the sale case, or our buyers bought more copies of a particular title than our customers would buy from us, and we gotta liquidate them in the name of space. Either way, we strive to have classic and quality titles priced to move! As of Saturday evening, May 19, 2012, the works of Michael Pollan, Jon Krakauer, beloved humorist David Sedaris, unchaste drunkard Chelsea Handler, Guns, Germs and Steel, and a book with a picture of a shark on the front--these and many more are priced to move and awaiting your attention.
Friday, May 18, 2012
I came across this old copy of Jitterbug Perfume in a box of books to be shelved. I found the author photo to be, um, unusual. Tom sure looks happy in this picture. Then again, he was riding high on the bestseller lists, so he undoubtedly had a lot to smile about. Maybe one of the things he was smiling about was knowing that Bantam would be printing this photo on the back cover of his soon-to-be-published book.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
One summer day while browsing at a flea market, writer and photographer Alex Forman came across a small wooden box containing thirty-seven 2" plastic miniatures of presidents Washington through Nixon. Intrigued by the stately, almost anonymous bearing of these figures, Forman decided to research the lives of the presidents contained in the box to learn more about the real men behind these models.
Eschewing the kind of patriotic biography that often characterizes and colors our perceptions of the presidents, Forman collected an assortment enlightening, endearing, and sometimes odd facts and gossip. These humorous and myth-busting thumbnail biographies have just been published in the Tall, Slim & Erect (Les Figues Press).
Some of my favorites are below.
"Benjamin Harrison's handshake was like a wilted petunia"
"Franklin Pierce was the most unambitious man ever to run for office."
"Truman always drove too fast."
"Poll, [Andrew] Jackson's parrot who could speak in Spanish and English, reportedly had to be removed from Jackson's funeral because the bird was cursing in both languages."
Tall, Slim & Erect is a delightful book and will certainly appeal to anyone who takes pleasure in American history and/or the absurdity found in the gulf between public and private personas.
N.B.- Tall, Slim & Erect is not yet listed on our website. Please call the store at 415-387-2272 or stop by to get a copy.