Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A mountain of books

A mountain of books fell on me. Not literary, thankfully. But it certainly feels like that's what happened. One minute, it seemed, I was going with the flow and the next I have hundreds more books in my house and not many are leaving. WTF!!!! Okay, I found a few new place to dig for books. Not telling where until I am done mining them myself but they are close-by and untapped. I actually found a Hunter S Thompson book at one of the places! At the other place I found an ARC of JOHN KEROUAC's first novel. That's worth some loot!

At the same time, I feel a bond with every small press and unknown publisher out there who made great books that no one has ever heard of or read. The marketplace that is American can be a cruel bitch, heartless and downright cold. Audiences are fickle and uneducated. Writers are decades or centuries ahead of their "fans", if they are lucky to have fans.

And so it goes. A book runner, a scout, doesn't have the luxury of sentiment though. He looks for a book that will pay for his rent or his addiction. My addiction is the hunt, the moment of discovery, the pursuit. I don't NEED books. I desire them though. Greatly desire them. On days when it's raining though, I linger inside and climb my mountains. Reaching the peaks, I wonder how much higher I can build them!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

to my humbly captive audience

over the past few years I have been bubbling an idea around in my head to write about an individual who was a book scout (married and stay-at-home dad) who makes some particularly foolish decisions that lead him and his family into harms way. International intrigue, spy networks, that sort of rot.

i wanted to figure out if having an using a real blog in a fictional enterprise is kosher. It seems to be so -

we are on.

My own "book fetish" as it were was only unleashed in 2001 when I spent the summer working at a recycling center outside of Philadelphia a few days a week. I was paid very minimally - except that I was also allowed to take donated books as part of my "pay". I gained a lot of weight that summer. No, I didn't get fat but the farmhouse where I was living at the time began to fill up with books. A lot of books. Dozens at a time. Paperbacks, mostly. The classics and oddballs. I was amazed what people dumped at the Center. Books that Auntie Em or Ralphie Boy had their closets, or attics, or basements -

I watched in horror as others at the Center ripped off the covers of Hard Bounds and toss the pages in with old newspaper for pulping. It was like they were killing defenseless animals. Of course, some of the books were mildewed, soiled, highlighted, water logged. BUT STILL! On principle alone I started to "save" books. I vowed to find homes for them somewhere. Used bookstores. Then a few years later, online.

Friday, August 19, 2011

the reason I asked.... because I am working on a novel with some real-world elements in it and I wanted some idea of how do prepare for the possibility that people reading the novel would then click onto the real sites and blogs

would it generate interest in things that I (or the main character) find interesting?

Thursday, July 21, 2011


in a book of fiction, is it acceptable to use real blogs or website addresses?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Michael Dirda's column

Dirda's Reading Room. My wife sent me a link to this column since Michael Dirda has stated pretty much my exact sentiments on the subject of "e-readers" in the piece. His phrase is "Screens are, by their nature, ephemeral, transient, insubstantial". I would add "impermanent" to the phrase as well. Unlike an actual book - there is still the problem of batteries and charging. Besides, since because a gadget exist does not mean that it's place in our society is guaranteed or known. Time, and not pundits, will tell.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Paul Foreman & Thorp Springs Press (more!)

I first wrote about Paul Foreman and Thorp Springs Press in August 2010 when I had first came across the Press and started to collect some books published by TS. Since then I contacted the University of Texas which has collected material by the Press in their special collections department. The University was not interested in acquiring anything else by Thorp Springs even though I thought the association copies I had were valuable. Well, they are to someone I am certain.

I contacted Len Fulton and that conversation led nowhere. Then I happened across a copy of The Grassman on - a signed copy - Len Fulton's novel - signed by Len - printer's error copy (one of the chapters is upside down)

Then in January 2011, I noticed that someone had made a comment on my August 2010 posting about Foreman and TS Press, and it was from Paul Foreman himself! I didn't read the message till well after it was posted and the mailing address for Foreman in Texas seems to have been a dead end. Paul, if you are out there still - I did write you!

A few weeks ago I bid on a lot of anthologies on ebay pertaining to California poets. I didn't notice in the description that one of the anthologies was The San Francisco Bark which was published by - you guessed it - Thorp Springs Press in April 1972 while the Press was still located in Berkeley, CA. It contains poems by Josephine Miles, Arthur Sze, Paul Foreman himself, Margaret Cesa, and a number of poets who I have never heard of.

So, now I have FIVE books published by Thorp Springs Press. My collection rivals the University of Texas!

Monday, May 23, 2011

extremes in book selling

it isn't just books themselves, or their authors, or their publishers. It's the environment in which a book is sold. "the bookstore". So, over the weekend I was at what has to be the extremes of bookselling. In Central PA, I went to a brand new used bookstore called 'The Wise Owl' and then about 12 hours later I stumbled into its polar opposite : The Bookspace in Philadelphia.

Each in their own way were totally fucked up. I know that "purists" will hissy-fit me for saying this but these experiences only reenforce my comfortable and established pattern of on-line book shopping. Not because I dislike the pursuit, I LOVE the pursuit!, but because I am not as much in love with the stupidity of people who say they love books and then treat them like pieces of furniture or like puppies in a post-apocalyptic film, unwanted and left for dead or left as food.

Take your pick : each of these places have no real interest in books as knowledge but perhaps maybe as objects, at least in one of them. The other is located in a gritty old brick factory in Fishtown section of Philadelphia which looks like someone dumped 50,000 books from a helicopter through the roof and wherever they landed is their "spot". Okay, It might have de-evolved into that but the place that I witnessed was a mass of dust covered items (which happen to be called books for the sake of conversation that are inconveniently in the way of a really cool party space. So, maybe the books are a cover. A dodge. A write-off.

I needed to wash my hands after leaving there. They were covered in soot. The building reeked of stale beer. There were bags and bags of trash all around the building. Nice touch for those brave individuals willing to risk the adventure of finding ANYTHING at the Bookspace. It's a great place to haggle or to learn the art of haggling since none of the books are priced and all transactions are arrived at through something like a Vulcan mind-meld.

My wife and I did find two books but - we promptly had to find something with a sink with running water and soap. Grungy is actually an understatement in this instance. It's a good thing we weren't wearing white clothes.

Juxtapose that with a bookstore that might have 300 books in it. A used bookstore that is starting out and has, maybe, 300 books in it. Of course, they are all overpriced since they have to pay the rent in this ill-conceived business model. But it looks like a book boutique. A place where someone can go and find a book for that third bedroom in their house, something in pink. I hope that they succeed but will not at all be surprised if they don't. You can't start a bookstore with so few books that the normal book scout is in and out of your shop in less than 5 minutes. You want them to linger. You want them to browse. If one were interested in boutique - like book accessories, they can find them in this place; but most serious book hounds are not coming into a new shop that is a USED BOOKSTORE and be interested in clutter - they are there for the books. What don't you get about that? They are there to BUY books, so it might be a good idea to have some! No, more than "some". It might be a good idea to have invested in a lot of books. Front-end your commitment by opening your store with floor to ceiling books instead of finely placing them around the room on beautiful (and completely useless) furniture soas to show off how they might "make" the room. Ok, right, I am out of here. I bought one overpriced book - but I don't do it twice.

I love the concept of bookstores - I am not a fan of e-books in the slightest but good LORD, anyone entertaining opening a bookstore ought to remember that it is a BOOK store. People will come (or not) based on what is in your store. Unless, you know, it's a front for the coolest meeting space in the city which can pretend to "deal with books" but only in the most minimal possible way!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

new quote to live by

"if books are becoming obsolete, I am an obsoletist"

s - a - m