Bibliophile essay contest – Entrant #8

BTW I have been asked to extend the end date to April 30th.
So keep those cards and letters coming.

in from Tim in Tacoma:

Trial Attorney to Bookseller in 21 Easy Steps

I became a lawyer, in large part, because of a book I read in sixth grade:
Irving Stone’s biography of Clarence Darrow. Fast forward to my senior year in college at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. As part of a seminar, I worked for the Washtenaw County Public Defender’s office. I loved the camaraderie, the spirit and the fight for justice exhibited by the attorneys and staff. I was also thinking of going to graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in literature. That summer, the Ann Arbor Observor came out with a cover issue story about Ph.D’s laboring in obscure jobs across the country. After reading it, I decided to go to law school.

Yes, I was a closet reader. Literally. My mother would find me with a flashlight reading under the covers past bedtime. Reading got me through law. Law school was not fun. I almost quit after the first semester, as part of me knew this was the wrong path. But being a very stubborn person with an extremely high pain thereshold, I persevered. I moved to Chicago, my hero’s hometown, and soon followed in the master’s footsteps. Life as a public defender in the big city was exciting, terrifying and incredibly interesting. It was also incredibly depressing. I became a partner in a law firm that specializes in wrongful arrests, civil rights violations and worked on several major death penalty and wrongful conviction cases, securing the release of several clients. It was profoundly fulfilling and draining work. I burned out. I moved with my wife to the west coast. I vowed to follow a new path.

That was almost six years ago. For the last two years I have been buying books. Lots of books. I have been scouting for a location to open a brick and mortar store. I have been interviewing bookstore owners. I paid an accountant several thousand dollars to do due diligence for a used bookstore that I was going to purchase until the deal went south. I decided to open my own store instead of buying someone else’s store. I read book blogs, book catalogs, books-on-books and everything I can get my hands on to further my book education. I sell a small carefully chosen number of books on-line.

As I grew older, I grew more and more weary of pursuing a career that no longer makes sense to me. Then one day approximately a year ago, while coming out of court, I saw a sign announcing that a space across from the courthouse was available for rent. A small gallery had previously been located there. I made some calls and viewed the space. That space turned out to be too small, but there was a new building going up. The first floor was all retail. It was available. I am now close to finalizing the lease as I write this. If all goes well, I well be opening a brick and mortar bookstore in the very shadow of Amazon.com. I am terrified, elated and ecstatic. I wake up every day at 4:30 a.m. full of anxiety, yet determined to go forward. I am convinced that this is financially absurd. I’m going to open a brick and mortar bookstore. I have been an attorney for 21 years. Each year has taken me one step closer to this dream.

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