Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Our new location:

If you came across this via Google (or any other search engine), we can now be found at


We hope to see you over there.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Reading against the clock.

I still marvel over the joy of it all; these people trust me with the knowledge of what they read, what there interests are, what they believe in, what they aspire to. Your closest friend would probably not come up to you and say something like "“I am thinking of leaving Catholicism and am looking at several of the animalistic religions." ” Yet, I have had similar conversations more than once with customers. Or the hot girl, who you think about asking out, until, that is, you see the stack of recovery books she buys and decide that anyone who buys 5 books with titles like living with your heroin addiction and DEALING with the aftermath of sexually transmitted disease does not need a complication like a bookseller (or at least this one) in her life.

My customers honor me by letting me have a glimpse of their personal lives, and I value that trust. Sometimes, however, it goes way beyond that.

Tom Walter came in the store last spring. For those of you in the nether parts of the world, Tom was (from 1984 to 2005) the Memphis Commercial Appeal'’s television reporter. As such, he had an eagle eye view on pop culture, for better or worse. It was always a joy when he came in, because he had a unique view on society that you may not (or may) agree with, but you loved him for the conversation and the thoughts.

Tom, as I said, came in to the store last spring. After the customary chit chat, he said he might need a job soon, and would I consider hiring him. It seems he was leaving the paper.

"“What the hell for?"” I ask.

It turned out Tom had cancer. Bad cancer. The sort from which you don'’t get better. He told me that if he only had so many days left, he was not going to spend them writing about Britney Spears. He had things to do, books to read, and he wanted to spend some time with his family. When I asked when he was leaving the paper, he said he hoped before August, because he never, ever wanted to write another word about Elvis. When he left, he was upbeat, cheerful, and had that smile that would make your whole day.

Over the next year or so, Tom would come in, bringing huge amounts of his discards, as he called them, and told me if I could use any of them, to make a credit on his account. I looked over Tom'’s account today, and he took many books out of the store, whittling away at his credit line, but then bringing more back so it never got even close to even. I would bet he took over 50 books out of the store in the last year, and has never paid a cent. Tom read good things, but not pretentious things. He felt no reason to read something like Flaubert just so he could look "“intellectual"”. You see, Tom was reading against the clock.

Tom has the distinction of having the largest line of credit ever at Midtown Books, with it once approaching $400. I once joked with him that if he brought any more books in, he was going to have to start paying some of the rent.

I was thinking about it today, and I guess the last time I saw Tom was about 3 months ago. He had lost weight, but not horribly so. He still had that smile, and when asked (but not until), he said he was doing "“OK"”. He was excited about our opening the store Downtown, and he said he could not wait to see it. I think he had been in since, but not when I was there.

Tom died Saturday morning.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

My Bookish Blog Roll

I mentioned to someone the other day thay I read about 20 websites - forums, blogs, and online news - daily. Then they said m"I wish I could see your blog roll". (Not being a techno-type, but being too cool to admit I had not a clue as to what they were talking about, I said maybe we could work something out, and smiled knowingly.)

After looking the term up, I decided to show some of the blogs I read often. This being a book oriented site, I have restricted myself to the book related (for the most part) blogs.

In no particular order, here goes.












Friday, June 09, 2006

The Best Birthday Card this year

Monday was my B-Day, and I have friends who always pick the funny, goofy cards, not friends who pick the lace and gilt, breathy cards. So, every year, one stands out, and here is this year's winner. I gave her points for creativity, as she photoshopped the image of the Bumble from my profile picture onto the card.

Yes, We Have AC

Earlier this week our Air Conditioning was repaired at the Midtown Store, so we are now cool as a cucumber. Please come see us and pardon the boxes, as we prepare stock to go downtown.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Lots of things to update, so here goes:

1. I related a while back that our AC units were stolen at the Midtown location, causing us to baste in our own juices. Well, one of the units is now back and functional, with promises that the other will be fixed this week.

2. The Elves are hard at work, gearing up for the new store opening (More on this below) and continuously refining our Midtown Location.

3. Later this month we will unveil our new website (www.memphisbookshop.com).

4. We came to a critical point in the build out of the new store, and had to make a decision. We could open on June 1 with a decent, functional store, or we could delay one month and have a store we could be proud of. After much deliberation, we have chosen the later. It is possible we will open earlier, and if so, we will be sure to let you know right here, but no later than July 1.

I am sure there is more, and I will keep you up to date.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Back on track

Sorry for the delay in updating, but I have been as busy as a [ insert favorite simile here]. Loyal Book Elf Amanda went out of town for a week, right on the heels of our losing our cataloguer, so I had to be pulled from my oh so comfortable supervisory role and pressed into actual work.

One day, I had about an hour of unscheduled time at the store, and had a brilliant blog post all ready. I sat at the computer, went to the correct page, and then realized I had forgotten my password. Undaunted, I hit the very cleaverly named GET PASSWORD button, which then told me it was emailing the password to my email address. Of course, when I opened this blinking account, I used an email address I could only check from home. No matter, I said to myself, I shall just do it upon arrival at home. Can you guess what happened? During the 2 hours between the above events and my arrival at home, I forgot what I was going to post. Totally left my brain.

We got a lot of books in over the weekend, both curent fiction and a lot of history and other non-fiction. I am also getting a box lot (around 100 books) of Civil War material in the first part of next week. Please come by and check it out at the Midtown location.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Romancing the book

This is an easy business to romanticize. After all, we deal in books, and what are books but the revelation of men's souls? It is easy to get wrapped up in the romanticism, the joy of placing the right book to the right reader, the bright colors of the dust wrappers, the smell of the paper...

Yes, it is easy to do, and I fall victim to it all too often. Just the other day, I went to Davis-Kidd on my day off. I do this fairly often, primarily to see what other people are reading and to steal er... learn merchandising techniques. I look at how they display books, how they cross sell, cetera. After all, if they can make money on the pitiful margins new books bring, they must know something, right?

So I am there, and the store is packed. People are moving about, and the lighting is just right, and the colors on the jackets are everywhere, and it sinks in to me that I am surrounded by the collective wisdom and thoughts of thousands of men and women, that all that I like about the world was around me, that I liked the customers there more because they were readers, that joy that I got seeing children running around the kids books section carrying books, asking parents to buy them... it was a truly joyful thing. I felt truly at peace (something very rare for me, what with ADD raging and all) and realised, not for the first time, that the way I feel surrounded by books is the way someone better than me would feel in church.

I have always loved books, and no doubt, the books have loved me back. They have fed me and mine for several years now, and I want nothing more than to be a bookseller for the rest of my life. I feel true joy when someone comes in raving about the book I recomended them, or how much their mom liked the book I sold her. Perhaps my best memory is of the day I was in Brother Juniper's and I overheard the conversation at the table behind me. It was a young couple, and he was raving about the coolest book he had ever bought, and how it really changed his life, and who would have thought something written so long ago would still be valid, and so on. Then I turned and saw the book he had was a Hardback of Emerson's Essays that I had hand sold it to him about a week before.

I resisted the urge to go over and say hello, or even to wave after getting their attention. I just smiled, finished my omelet, and left, thinking what a truly lucky man I am, and what a good thing it was I don't romanticize the book business.