Once upon a time there was a mall. It was a fine mall. Not too big. Not too small. The mall was just right. It had a place to buy food…and a place to buy Yankee Candles…and a place to buy clothing and fancy soap and shoes and cards for every holiday. But the mall didn’t have a book store. So the mall was sad.
Then one day some one put up portable shelving in an empty store. They opened long sturdy tables. They hung vinyl banners announcing “Cookbooks” and “Children’s” and “Mystery.” Then they filled the shelves and the tables with discounted books and the Bargain Book Warehouse pop-up store was born.
There is no fancy neon sign above the entrance, just a simple fold up easel to tell folks that books reside inside. BARGAIN BOOKS.
As a writer I have a bit of a problem with the concept of Bargain Books. When the prices are slashed surely that means that the poor author is the one getting the shaft.
But as my mom (my companion, and my reason for being in the mall) eased into her second quarter-hour in the Hallmark Store I excused myself and slipped into the B.B.W. to “look.”
Frankly, I didn’t expect much. Usually these places are such a jumble of cast-off you can’t find anything specific on your “to read” list. It’s best to approach with a “browse only” policy. Trying to find an individual author or title will only lead to tears.
So I headed over to the ART table. Low and behold they had some Graphic Design books. Some pretty decent Graphic Design books. I actually had my choice of books on Logo Design. Cool.
I brought my selection up the humble check out counter (another wooden table). The cash register shared space with more books and JOURNALS!
Jackpot! I picked up a selection of lined and unlined journals. Things were looking up.
Then I went just a little too far. Thinking I might be able to pick up a few books for the upcoming JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) meeting I asked the guy behind the cash register this question: “Could you point me towards your Jane Austen, please?”
He looked back at me, thinking hard. “Um?” Thinking harder. “Do you know what kind of books she wrote?”
“Yes I do.” I answered, closing my mouth with a tight smile before he rest of my sentence — “and, as you work in a BOOKSTORE, you should know what kinds of books she wrote too” — came spilling out. I smiled. “She wrote novels in the Regency Period.” Nothing. “About 200 years ago.”
“She wrote History?” He nodded to a vinyl banner with the letters HISTORY on it.
“No she didn’t write History, she wrote romantic fiction.”
“Oh, Romances.” He looked the other way at a banner emblazoned with a loopy typeface.
“No. She wrote Pride and Prejudice.” I tried again.
His face shifted with slow recognition. “Oh, yeah. I saw that movie.” GAR! “Yeah all that old stuff is over there.”
I handed him my Journals and Graphic Design books. “That’s OK. If you don’t recognize her name you probably don’t carry her books.”
I smiled and handed over my money.
He smiled and handed me my receipt.
So, Pop-Up Bookstore guy I apologize for going all Jane-Austen-snobby on you.
My bad, I shouldn’t have broken the golden rule about asking for a specific author.
I wont make the same mistake again.