Readersforum's Blog

September 10, 2011

The Ache Of Book Abandonment

By Gerry Hadden

When I was just out of college, I worked for three years in book publishing, in New York City. Because the starting wage was usually enough to cover your rent and groceries, but never enough, for happy-hour beers, many of us assistants ran a supplemental racket for extra dough.

We would secretly hoard copies of the new books that were constantly arriving at the office. These were books that were not yet in stores. I kept my stash hidden in an old black duffle bag under my desk. When we had a decent enough pile amassed, we’d pick an evening and lug our loot down to the Strand, that iconic secondhand book bazaar in The Village.

We’d empty our sacks on to the buy-back counter and watch expectantly as some bookish, harried employee would rifle through the pages with disdain and lowball us on most everything we presented. Every once in a while you’d get a nice surprise — ten bucks for a first edition by this writer or that, 15 for the four-color coffee table book…

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