Saturday, October 25, 2008

Reasons to haunt used bookstores

One never knows what lies in your local used bookstore... not unless one looks.
I passed through Colorado Springs' delightfully cluttered Hooked on Books the other day, and what caught my eye? A 1958 paperback edition of Professor J. L. B. Smith's Old Fourlegs: The Story of the Coelacanth. First published in 1956, this little gem told Smith's own story of how the famous fish was lost for 60 million years, found, and almost lost again.
This edition was from Pan Books, London, and had a price of three shillings sixpence printed on the cover. Someone had pasted in a 1960 clipping of the recent find of another coelacanth specimen. Altogether a charming find. The bookstore owner notes that, based on their price tag, it had been in their shop for several years, overlooked by all (including, embarrassingly, me on several prior visits). Now it has a proper home.
The moral of the story: Keep your eyes open, and patronize your local bookstores.

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