Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tales from the Bookshop

Apparently the rumors of the death of the book are greatly exaggerated. I have been "managing" -- as if that were possible -- the Provincetown Bookshop for almost three weeks now, and every day I hear from customers about how glad they are that the bookshop is still there. The Provincetown Bookshop is the last remaining full service bookstore in the town -- or, for that matter, on the Outer Cape. (Next book stop, Orleans, 30 miles away.) There is a wonderful used and rare bookstore almost next door to us, but no other general bookstore. Not only are people voicing their love of books, bookstores, and the Provincetown Bookshop in particular, they are buying an amazingly arcane and intellectual bunch of books.

In less than three weeks, I've sold:
  • two copies of a biography of Cicero
  • two copies of the poetry of Pablo Neruda
  • two copies of The Memorial by Christopher Isherwood
  • Dharma Bums and On the Road
  • Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath
  • two biographies of St. Francis of Assissi (in this case, to the same person)
  • innumerable editions of poetry by Mary Oliver
  • obscure literary fiction, essays, and biographies too numerous to mention
  • an eclectic mix of history books on Indians, the Civil War, and WW II, none of them best sellers except the biography of John Adams by David McCullough.
This is in addition to all the Cape Cod books and music books that the store is known for. And, of course, the usual suspects: the indie bestsellers that you can find in any good independent bookstore.

Perhaps the most heartening harbinger for the future of books is the children's section. Children's books sell like hotcakes. I've noticed two patterns. Adults buy classic children's books (Winnie the Pooh, The Velveteen Rabbit) as gifts for the children in their lives -- or for baby showers, which is a great idea. And book-loving children as young as three pick out their own books, and can hardly be torn away from the shelves once a selection is made. One little one threw a total tantrum when told he couldn't walk out with every book he had picked up! Although I hate to hear any one cry -- big or little -- it was kind of cool to know that he was crying over books. I know the feeling.

1 comment:

  1. Hi. What a delightful post. Is this your summer vacation job? Or is it your new Real Job? I'm sorry I haven't been by this blog for a very long time - but I have a really good excuse. I had a heart attack in April - and my life has been a whole new ball game ever since. Consisting of medical visits of one sort or another, and mostly of cardio rehab workouts at a terrific place called New Heart. I will be an Olympic athlete (senior games?) once this spate of rehab sessions is over, I think.The whole thing is a long story, too long for a blog "comment," but we are planning a trip to the Cape in September - and perhaps we could even get together over lunch somewhere?