I am often asked where I find the books that I sell. That’s an easy one: under my bed. I go to sleep at night, wake up and presto! The Book Fairy has left all sorts of neat books under there. It’s motivation to keep out the dust bunnies.
But on the rare occasions where the Book Fairy lets me down I have to go out and actually looks for the gems out there. How can you tell what is gold and what is dross? Experience and an eye for it, nothing else. Scanner people will tell you it’s all in their nifty little whizz-bang electronic devices, which is why they so often overlook the good stuff.
For an example let’s use a book I sold just today, one by historical novelist Dewey Lambdin. In September of 2006 I was rummaging through the Countrywood garage sale, a simultaneous weekend of 800-1000 homes all selling stuff on the same day. Harvesting from this sale is exhausting and rarely rewarding, but in the service of my fellow man I did my duty and went anyway. Late on Saturday morning I came to a house with stuff spread out all over their driveway. By that point I had been up for 7 hours and was reduced to staggering from one house to the next. The only thing I could say was “books”, but it was enough. The equally worn out homeowner nodded to a big box under a table. I started rummaging. Paperbacks romance novels. Lots of them. Oh boy. I almost quit, it was a big box, but since I was already on one knee I decided to finish. There, at the very bottom, the only non-romance novel in the whole box, was a pristine Advance Reading Copy of Lambdin’s Sea of Grey. Holy smokes, where did that come from?
I quickly paid the man and left, knowing that in mere weeks Lambdin would be in Memphis for the second (and last) visit of the Southern Festival of Books (which should rightfully be called the Nashville Festival of Books) to Memphis. When the day came I took the cherished find, which was at that time part of my personal collection, met Dewey, had him sign and date the book, and had a long chat with him about US military activities throughout the world. It was great.
But all collections will be sold eventually, and so the day came for me to let go of this treasure. I put it up for sale on May 29, 2009, and sold it on November 22nd of the same year. I hope the new owner loves it as much as I did. Books are very sensitive creatures, after all.