About once a day, someone will step into the little charity book store that I co-manage here, on the north shore of Long Island, and stand, as if in shock, in the narrow aisle that is the main thoroughfare of our cubby hole, and bleat, “Is this the whole store?”
Yes, yes it is. Our used book store is really small. Into this charming space we cram (my educated guess) a little over 2,000 books.
That number includes a few duplicates. The most-duplicated book in our stock is this:
We have four different copies of this book: original hardback, paperback, hard-bound paperback, and a special abridged version for younger readers. This book came out in 2010 when the author, Wes Moore, went on Oprah when she was still on TV, whereupon it sold what we in the publishing business call “a shit load”*** and now, seven years after its pub date, it is STILL #250 on Amazon.com. So I bought one of the copies and read it.
In brief, this book is about two kids named Wes Moore who were born blocks apart within a year of each other in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and both had difficult childhoods; one grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence.
The ex-Rhodes scholar is the author of the book. The “other” Wes Moore became a grandfather at age 36 while he was in prison. Is it crappy of me to say that I grew weary of the other Wes Moore’s story? His tale is a dreary accumulation of the predictable poor choices that have become cliche in urban culture which, as the other Wes Moore shows, are not the inevitable price you have to pay for being poor in America.
As soon as I bought one of the four copies that we had in the store, another copy came in. So if you are looking for The Other Wes Moore, we have one that is right for you. (Price: $1.)
***The Other Wes Moore sold 140,000 in paperback in 2012. That’s all I could find. I hope you find this interesting because I, as an author, find sales figures fascinating.
We also have three copies of this:
Price: 50 cents. I haven’t read it, and probably never will. One of our volunteer book sellers was helping me shelve a batch of new donations, which included a copy of this book, and she asked me if this was Fiction or Not. (Please note that it says, right on the cover, A Novel.) The scary thing is, this volunteer used to be a high school teacher.
We used to have three copies of this delightful number:
We are currently sold out of this title because I kept recommending it to customers who liked fiction and/or books set in Paris. I read this book and liked it far more than I thought I would, and I like this cover immensely for reasons I can’t really explain. Maybe because it does not give anything away, or maybe because it reminds me of Vermeer’s paintings. Feel free to discuss.
We currently have three copies of this:
I like the Freakonomics podcast but I’ve never read the book, so I brought a paperback copy home with me. I must have looked at this cover 20 times (I admire its jazzy colors, and lime green is a particular favorite of mine) before I realized that the apple is photoshopped to have an orange inside it. I love it!! This is a very sophisticated image, and is a clever way to illustrate that Levitt and Dubner are masters at comparing apples to oranges.
P.S. I was wondering if that “apples and oranges” idiom was translatable to other languages, so I tried to find the foreign editions of this book’s cover. I could only find the Hindi version:
So I guess that the answer to my wondering is, “No.”
I’m reading the chapter about selling crack cocaine in the 1990s. According to Levitt and Dubner, it was a lot like selling nylon stockings in the 1940s. More contemporarily, Levitt and Dubner explain the allure of selling crack cocaine on the street by situating the whole illegal drugs enterprise within the context of other American businesses. That’s how I came upon this on page 104:
In the glamour professions — movies, sports, music, fashion — there is a different dynamic at play. Even in second-tier glamour industries like publishing, advertising, and media, swarms of bright young people throw themselves at grunt jobs that pay poorly and demand unstinting devotion.
Say what, now?
As I have had three books published, I consider myself to be part of the publishing business which, I have always smugly assured myself and others, gives me one of the most deliriously glamorous jobs in the whole world. Now I find out that it’s a second-tier glamour industry??
I also want to know, Is there a third tier?
I definitely want to know what jobs are on that list.
Oh, Dear Readers, it’s been a tough few weeks here in the der Drmpfian demise of democracy. The obscenity of government officials quoting the Bible to defend taking children away from their immigrant parents got me so depressed that I could see no other way of lifting my misery than to go to the local shelter and adopt a DoG.
No, I didn’t get a DoG, but only because I need one that is OK with cats (8 of ’em, at last count) and the shelter didn’t have any they could vouch for. I spent some time with a cute 10-year old Puggle named Barry, who, sadly, did not pass muster when I asked the crucial question, “Is he house broken?” (Been there, done that.)
There were two chihuahuas up for adoption at the shelter, but I don’t think I’m a chihuahua person. In theory I’m fine with pit bulls, but a lot of the pits on hand need to be the only animal in the house.
And yeah, sure, der Drumpf signed the executive order, but that makes our country only slightly less shit hole-isa, so I still need a DoG. This weekend I am visiting another animal shelter.
Yes, I know that getting a DoG is setting myself up for heartache. I remember very clearly how I went a little crazy when my sweet cocker spaniel, Boogie Girl, died, which was the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life. But what is it about DoGs that even this born-and-bred Cat Lady can’t resist?
Have another great weekend, everyone. We’ll get through this. We will.