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.