Saturday, March 12, 2005

Flotsam & Jotsum of People's Lives

Bookscouts have some of oddest haunts in their itineraries. Besides the more obvious thrift stores and library sales we'll go most anywhere we can guarantee a cache of books, including estate sales and public auction surplus stores.

There are numerous professionals in Houston who, for a percentage of the take will organize an estate sale. There is a morbid fascination to these - you are given permission to snoop through someone's cabinets and closets, but you still feel slightly guilty about it since your mother told you it was rude to pry. An estate sale has an air of sadness about it. Someone's home is opened up to anyone with a checkbook and their trash and their treasures are exposed and look oh so vulnerable. Sometimes the heirs are determined to squeeze the ultimate penny out of the estate and authorize the sale of everything, including family pictures, half used tubes of toothpaste and used underwear. Some things really belong in the trash and it's sad to think that nobody would want the wedding or the baby pictures.

At the other end of the spectrum are the surplus stores. The proprietors buy up the goods of storage places that are seized for non payment of rent. They maintain a store in a low rent portion of town and spread goods out thrift store fashion. And there, for all to see are the leftovers of a family's life. The goods include shelves of dollar store quality figurines - the end results of someone's failed business. There are pots and pans, wedding dresses, videos (mostly shoot up bang bangs), clothes, stuffed animals, toys, furniture, bric a brac and small appliances. And of course books. Today I found yearbooks, covered with loves autographs and a baby's book, partly filled out. The last was especially poignant.

I unearthed The Book of Words about Duran Duran with a gift inscription that may have been written by one of the band members. My beloved is a Duran Duran fan so she was very pleased with that particular acquisition. I also came home with a a couple of cookbooks and a book entitled: Beyond Candlesticks : New Japanese Charting Techniques Revealed. It's some sort of financial scheme. It must not have worked for the original owner, but it sold within an hour of listing it on Amazon. Hope springs eternal.

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1 comment:

Gail said...

You have some interesting articles on book scouting and selling! Found you from the Book think forum (I'm Moonwishes). I'll be back to read more.