Since I posted last night about a movie that features a dusty old bookstore, I thought I’d relate this true story. A few years ago while on vacation, I went into a used bookstore I had visited a few times in the past. It wasn’t a great store, you understand, but it was okay. It had quite a bit of Sixties and Seventies men’s adventure, science fiction, and Westerns, and it was run by an old guy who was just like all the other old guys most of you have seen running dusty old used bookstores: a little gruff, but you could tell he liked being surrounded by all those books.
So when I walked into the store a few years ago and looked around, I knew right away that something was wrong. It was clean. The shelves were neat and orderly. And there was a perky, thirtyish woman behind the counter. I started looking around. All the books were maybe not new, but they were recent, and most of them had been bestsellers. Where were the stacks of Penetrator and Malko books? Where were Mack Bolan and The Survivalist? Where was the old guy?
I got my answer a few minutes later as I overheard (well, actually, eavesdropped on) a conversation between the woman running the store and another customer who asked about the old guy who used to be there. “Oh, he retired,” the woman said. “So my mother and I bought the store because we thought it would be fun. Of course, the first thing we had to do was get rid of all those old books that were in here!”
If some of you feel a little sick to your stomach right now, I completely understand.
I’ve been back to that store a couple of times since then, and I’ve bought a handful of books there, although it’s hard to find anything I’d actually want. But I’m thinking I may not go again. The place is haunted by the ghosts of all those old books that were summarily gotten rid of. I just hope the new owners had a big sale and didn’t just box them up and put them in the dumpster. That would be just too painful to contemplate.