. . . . one was too hard, one was too soft and one was just right.
Saturday was one of the twelve unscheduled New England good weather days. When these occur, it is mandatory to get out and enjoy it, or else next year we will only get eleven. This allowed my friends from Coelacanth books and I to set a new personal best, hitting three bookstores before happy hour. And in the interest of full disclosure and literary license the stores are not presented in the order of visitation.
We visited Parnassus Books in Yarmouthport, here is where I got to excise my extensive vocabulary of curse words, I even dragged out some I had heard as a child and don’t actually know the meaning, but their guttural sounds made me happy. This is the kind of store I expect to read about in John Gould books, squalid, unkempt, precariously stacked books, inaccessible shelves, not a hint of signage, haphazard shelving and a surprising number of unpriced and damaged books. That to be said I like a little challenge and found 2 small books. I also found that not only could they not find a mysterious ‘long complicated’ form I needed to fill out to be recognized as a bookseller, but they insisted I pay Mass State sales tax on my purchases because they couldn’t find that form either. [quelle surprise] The unfortunate part is that the store was surprisingly busy, with unsuspecting tourists popping in, and probably coming away thinking better of the internet.
To be fair many of us have mountains of detritus like this however I don’t pretend to have an open shop nor pile it in front of the art book section.
Titcomb’s Bookshop In East Sandwich is at the other end of the bookshop grading scale. Clean, friendly, inviting, sanitary, half new, half antiquarian. A large selection for kids and scholars, as well as knickknacks, and tchotchkes and scented soap. Every book on the appropriate shelf and aisles wide enough to accommodate an ample ass.
This was in fact the store my friends appreciated muchly, each finding a souvenir of their very own. I also found a little something something for my troubles, and then I found some troubles for my troubles. At Titcombs only booksellers with open shops are recognized by the proprietors, “places where they could ‘buy’ something”. A courtesy discount of 10% was only given when I pointed out the obvious flaw that the number of ‘open shops’ has dwindled to the point of courtesy inconsequence. However the tax-IDless gentleman standing behind me, was given 20% because he assured the clerk that he ‘used’ to come here all the time back in the old days. Just when I thought I had expended my entire supply of offensive words for the day. I claim sexism, heightism and just plain foolish inconsistency.
My favorite bookshop of the day, was a nice balance of organization and squalor. The percentage of books stacked on the floor though inconvenient is minor challenge compared with the title selection they contain.
Isaiah Thomas books is the type of store it is difficult to leave empty handed. At least I have never managed to do so. The new selection is limited to local authors and tourist titles, and the collectible titles extend to volumes even ‘I’ could afford to buy. In keeping with full disclosure Jim Visbeck at Isaiah Thomas Books is one of my oldest bookseller friends. Jim stocks a large assortment of OakKnoll reference books and back I the day I made it a habit to buy a new reference book at every show we attended together. Not to mention that the guy carries MY book and products for which I am greatful. I found a few titles that tickled me no end as well as a box full of stuff to resell for a profit that should cover my days expenditures. My scholar companions did not enjoy it as much as I did. I consider it a browser’s bookshop. Yes there’s a little chaos but the fruit of your search makes it worthwhile. I can only hope that more tourists stick their head inside and realize what the internet does NOT have is ambiance
I should have written this post Saturday night upon my return from a grand day out. I wanted to get it on ‘paper’ while my vitriol was still flowing, but sometimes my time is not my own and my Sunday was eaten by cats. So you get a much more expurgated version.