“Hah. So you’re a collector yourself, then,” she said, amused. “Except you don’t collect the books. You collect the stories about them.”
“You know, I think you’re right,” he said. “I’d love to hear more about your uncle, and how he came into possession of these.”
“He never talked much about his former life, before my family came to this country. He was a gardener, but that’s all I know. That, and these books were his treasure. And he gave them to me…” (more…)
“So what’s it worth?”
“As a book? Maybe twenty bucks. But let me ask you: What’s that story worth? And every bit of it’s true. No, this I won’t sell — not for twenty, not for a hundred. Someday, to the right person, I’ll sell it. Because that’s my job; it’s why I’m here. But it has to be someone the story means something to.”
She nodded now, understanding. “Because there aren’t many of that kind of collector. I’d imagine most are only in it for the money.” (more…)
“I’m just trying to understand. Not why these books are special, but why any of that matters at all to us. Isn’t it all about the money?”
“With some collectibles, it’s the story of the book rather than the one written inside it that gives it its value. Look, here,” as he brought down a battered volume from the shelf over his desk. She moved closer, interested despite herself. “Lady Chatterley’s Lover, pirated knockoff, 1939. A three thousand copy run. It’s a cheap reprint, and even if it hadn’t been soaked in what looks like salt water it wouldn’t have (more…)
“No, it’s true; I shouldn’t buy it. But I’m lousy at business, which is why I’m a bookseller. If I wanted to get rich, I’d sell drugs or something.”
She laughed, startled; he went on. “I’m in it because of the stories — the ones about the books as much as inside the covers. This Thackeray set, for instance: One day, twenty years from now, a collector will wander in and see it. I’ll tell him the story of Tauchnitz the publisher, and he’ll be fascinated — the whole tale of the great linen factories of Bohemia, this curious series of English books printed in Germany, the international (more…)
“…It’s lovely, beautifully if plainly bound, has some historical interest, and is worth about eighty bucks. Which means I pay forty.”
She blinked. “But my uncle told me it was a great treasure — that he was…” She was shocked; clearly she’d expected a lot more.
“He was wrong, I’m afraid,” the bookseller said as kindly as he could manage. He had himself fallen in love with the little set, even though he knew it would never sell. “The trouble with genuinely rare books is… well, they’re rare. You’ll probably never see more than a couple in your entire life; I’m in the business, and I’ll only (more…)
“…and a three-volume edition of Pendennis, by Thackeray; second printing. Rebound recently — and very well — but printed first in Liepzig, of all places, back in 1849.” The young man turned from his computer screen to confront his visitor, who was by now visibly bored. He sighed, but slogged on.
“Like most of these, it’s old, but not particularly valuable. The true first edition (more…)
Everyone makes mistakes.
I take my job pretty seriously, but even so, I’ll get distracted sometimes. This time, we lucked out; the kid must have slipped, and I heard the distinctive sound of coins on metal. The cash box! Time to go earn my pay. (more…)
Note: This is the eighth installment of a ghost story. It’s not meant to be read by itself. If you’d care to start at the beginning, click here and follow the links.
Pale light had begun to streak the sky when the van pulled up behind the little car, sputtering and coughing as its occupants jumped out.
“Help us!” Jake yelled. He was straining at the car door, trying vainly to pull it open.
The older man rushed forward, but Gillis stopped and looked at the car roof, which was bisected by a sharp line. The front half was (more…)
Note: This is the seventh installment of a ghost story. It’s not meant to be read by itself. If you’d care to start at the beginning, click here and follow the links.
She’d started the fire with the flashlight battery and a foil gum wrapper, something she said she’d seen on YouTube. Jake was amazed, but more he was grateful for the yellow light that came, driving away the fog and a chill he hadn’t known he’d felt until now. Carefully they fed birch bark, then twigs and splinters (more…)
Note: This is the sixth installment of a ghost story. It’s not meant to be read by itself. If you’d care to start at the beginning, click here and follow the links.
Clarice fled into the night, her blanket clutched close around her. She slipped and fell, rolling into a muddy ditch, and the massive thing pounded past (more…)