Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Used Book Connection

I'm sitting in a used bookstore, planning to do some writing, but mooching their free wi-fi waves to check my email and do a tiny bit of research first. My internet connection at home is unpredictable at best these days, and mostly it's just nonexistent. So here I am. And I've found my new favorite place to hang out on a Saturday or Sunday and read, think or work: Ukazoo Books.

I first discovered Ukazoo during a meeting of the Maryland Writer's Association's Baltimore Chapter. It's a quiet and cozy place, filled with my favorite things. Shelves and shelves of books in every shape, color and subject. I've found two great books for my nephew's birthday gift, a nutrition book I've been looking at for months now but didn't want to pay full price for, and several other interesting tomes. I'll be coming back for more of those books on my long to-be-read list, too. Why pay full price for a brand new book, when you can find like-new copies at Ukazoo or your own neighborhood used-book store?

I have to admit that I feel a little guilty over my new found love of used books, though. I do plan on one day writing (dozens of) books and selling (millions of) them, after all. Don't used books decrease new book sales? Maybe. But they also provide an opportunity to own books when you might have just picked them up at the library for free. Plus, there's something incredibly inspiring to me about holding in my hands a book that someone else recently held and (hopefully) enjoyed. I start wondering about the story of the child who read the Spiderwick Chronicles every night before turning out the lights. I imagine the woman, strengthened and reborn in her ability to nourish her body with food and love. I become connected to these people in a sort of circle of life. And I want to pass that connection on to others and widen the circle. I only hope that I'm not the only one who turns the pages of these well-loved books and wonders about the last person or long line of people who have also done the same.

I wonder why holding library books never inspired such imaginings. Is it the fact that someone picked these books up off the shelf in a store and found something in their covers or their first few lines that drew them in and required a purchase? Probably and I can relate. I, too, am lured into book purchases by the smell of their pages, the sound of their brand new covers crackling as I open them, the sight of the black letters printed there on the pages, and before I know it, the book is waiting for my attention on my tall shelf of books I have yet to pick up again and experience. And once I've done that, I want to share that experience with another. What better way than to allow someone else to hold that same book, smell its pre-turned pages and open its slightly scuffed cover to find something new and exciting inside?

Plus, I'm saving a few trees along the way.

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