A Book Dealer’s Vacation

The Little Prince and The Remarkable Baobab

Two possible fine additions: The Little Prince and The Remarkable Baobab

So what book does a book dealer buy when they visit another bookstore?  What would I buy when I already have 20,000 books of my own?   Could there be a gap in my personal library?  My special collections?

I am speaking of a casual visit to the kingdom of another bibliophile in another state, not an avaricious book-buying sweep across the country with predatory re-sale instinct on red alert.  I have had many of that kind of book dealer set foot in my own bookstore.   I can identify a dealer within five minutes.  They grab titles, check my prices.      And, yes, I have been known to buy a book that was ridiculously under-priced in another shop, or to buy something of local interest to bring home, or even to purchase a book on a customer’s want list.   But none of that was on my mind during my recent visit to Portland.

For the thirty-one years I have been in the book business I have felt that it is a sin to walk in a bookstore without buying something.   Occasionally I have sinned.   It feels odd to buy from your direct competitor’s business, though I have done that.   It feels totally proper to hold to that rule when traveling out of state.

In Portland I had time to visit just one bookstore:  Wallace Books.  If you are looking for children’s books, you must go there.  I think they have every title from every series ever published.  I am sorry I did not discover their children’s book ROOM until we had to go.

So…what did I buy, and why?   I bought a book on baobab trees.   I had to have it to expand my personal horticultural library. (What lovely, weird trees they are, just like some of the plants in my succulent collection.)   This was a nod to my 50 year fascination with baobabs, which was born when I read The Little Prince in French class.   The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is a charming fairy tale/cautionary tale for adults and children.  Some people don’t fully appreciate it.


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