Why I Love Bookstores

26 Jul

Yes, in this day and age everything’s available online. Except maybe love and there are websites claiming you can find that there too. I do a fair amount of business online myself, especially when faced with a 40% discount. But I still try to make “the rounds” to bookstores, particularly independents and particularly used bookstores.

So Friday I took the day off (then spent a chunk of it on work-related stuff). I went to an Army surplus store in Indianapolis which I hadn’t been to before, for two reasons. One was that my emergency “go bag” needed a bit of replenishing and I decided to check this place out. The second was to buy a few ammo cans.

For the first purpose, I met with mixed results. I found some light sticks and some parachute cord (I replaced lower-quality rope in my bag) but the MRE’s, which was what I was really looking for, were priced too high. For the second purpose, no, I’m not a survivalist or anything. I do some work with GIS and teach it to kids and ammo cans are fantastic for geocaches. They’re waterproof and for more advanced caches do quite nicely to bury (not all the way – just enough to make someone have to work a bit to find ’em) with a log book and “stuff.” Anyway, I bought a few 7.62mm cans (you can get much larger ones) so the next time I want to wander around the woods for a few hours I can set a couple of caches.

Since I was in Indy with some time on my hands I decided I’d neglected the bookstores long enough – I don’t think I had been to them this calendar year.

As usual, I bought a chunk of books – 39 total. Most of these were not anything I’d targeted previously. Books over 20 years old like Ramsey MacMullen’s Christianizing the Roman Empire (A.D. 100-400) and Paul Balchin’s Urban Development in Renaissance Italy, a bunch of Classical stuff like Terence’s The Comedies, a few foreign language dictionaries, etc. I did get Galbert of Bruges’ The Murder of Charles the Good and James O’Donnell’s The Ruin of the Roman Empire, both of which were on my wishlist. But everything was priced right and I spent a touch under $7/book. That included buying Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror for $1 off the clearance shelf. I doubt it will provide me with the humor value of Manchester’s A World Lit Only by Fire but I may work through it and review it someday. It pops up in book discussions a lot and I should comment on it other than, “reviews of it have said …”

But here’s the real Indy bookstore promo. I picked up a complete 14-volume set of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: First Series. The version I have was published in 2004 and if it’s used, I can’t see how.

I now have the 10-volume Ante-Nicene Fathers set to go along with my new acquisition. All I need is the Second Nicene/Post-Nicene 14-volume set and I will have completed a section of my library I never thought I’d have.

There they are – the top shelf is the Ante-Nicene Set, the bottom shelf my new purchase. Ignore the dust, it has preservative properties – just look at Pompeii!

I picked up both these sets somewhat by luck but also by being opportunistic. They weren’t cheap – but for each of them I paid less than a quarter of what they’re listed for by finding them at independent bookshops (my $7/book statement, above, includes these 14 volumes). And I intend to “get lucky” by finding the second series under similar circumstances. So folks, don’t just buy online, or even at conferences. Go to your Indy & used bookstores. There’s absolute gold in them thar hills!

My apologies for my second “fluff” post in a row. However I deleted my most recent post as it referred to a post on another blog which has been removed and didn’t want to go through the entire month of July without posting anything. I have a few posts in draft, including a review of what I think is a very good book, but nothing ready to go just yet.

Evidently academic freedom ain’t what it used to be – or what I portrayed it as in my blog. Yup, I’m a little pissed. Even more unfortunate, as I write this Guy Halsall’s excellent blog has disappeared. I hope that situation is only temporary. I’ve gained a LOT from it and appreciate his sharing his knowledge and insight with the world at large. Disseminating information to a larger audience (and saying what you think) should never be considered a bad thing.


Posted by on July 26, 2011 in Books


Tags: , ,

10 responses to “Why I Love Bookstores

  1. Steve Muhlberger

    July 26, 2011 at 1:35 am

    While in the UK, I saw a retitled Folio Society reissue of *Italy and Her Invaders*. It was in a closed bookstore, probably for the best. What if it had been cheap?

  2. Curt Emanuel

    July 26, 2011 at 2:19 am

    I can't even imagine what that would retail for. I've often though I could be very happy opening a used bookstore when I retire – breaking even on it would be all I would ask for. Unfortunately, I doubt I could make a go of it here, not with the kind of books I'd want to carry.There is something about wandering through a store and seeing something good and saying to yourself, "They're selling that book for how much?" This was priced so low that I didn't have the heart to dicker with him.

  3. Historian on the Edge

    July 26, 2011 at 9:21 am

    The Folio Soc edition of Hodgkin goes for about £170-200. It's a decent price for the books, qua books, but I wouldn't want to pay that much for Hodgkin's thoughts…

  4. Historian on the Edge

    July 26, 2011 at 11:20 am

    P.s. Thanks. You aren't nearly as pissed/off as I am. The mirror site is still up, in heavily edited form, if you ever want to go back and look at some of those more substantial posts.

  5. Curt Emanuel

    July 26, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I can imagine. I'd hoped (and thought) you were senior enough not to have to take that kind of crap. And I'm not familiar with UK dynamics, obviously. I have a rant inside me but I'll shut up.

  6. Curt Emanuel

    July 26, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Going back to Steve's original comment, most of my books are in my home office but I've run out of space so I have a fancier bookshelf in my living room. I call it my, "See how smart I am?" shelf, purely for impressing visitors. It has a bunch of really impressive looking books which I'll never refer to (or rarely). Stuff like Churchill's English People series, the three-volume Bury edition of Gibbon, a bunch of Will Durant, hardcover fiction from Dickens, Hemingway, etc. If I saw a complete set of Hodgkin with a nice binding and it was pretty cheap, I imagine it would reside there nicely.If either of you came to my house and sat on my couch you'd be bracing yourself for a conversation with someone who thinks he knows something but is relying on 50-100-year old books. But they really did make 'em look impressive back then.

  7. Michelle Ziegler

    July 27, 2011 at 1:15 am

    What happened to Guy's Blogger site? Clearly I've missed out on something to be outraged over.

  8. Historian on the Edge

    July 27, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Actually I have revived it, for the time being at least. Thought police be damned!

  9. Curt Emanuel

    July 27, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Thank you. I had hopes, which was why I didn't delete the link from my sidebar.


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