Huffing Ink

Posted: October 3, 2009 in The Roper Files
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While Apple and Microsoft wait for us all to morph into Batman with our utility belts equipped with their I-Phones and IPods etc. an aging generation of us baby-boomers are still out there who know the value of a good book. I know this because I saw a few of them last night. The Texas Booksellers Association had a Book Show here last night at the nearby Will Rogers Exhibition Hall and I took a little stroll over there yesterday.
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I only found out about this because someone e-mailed me and told me about it ( Thanks Carolyn!)
Neither the local newspaper or our local free weekly had any mention of it, or if they did it slipped by yours truly. Now I’m on their mailing list.
And while the Fair here is pretty low-key they do a big one right around Halloween in Austin every year, and I know this because I’ve driven by it. It’s outdoors under tents right in front of the Capitol building and takes up several blocks; it’s consequently one of the best places in Texas ordinary Joes like myself can meet famous authors and celebrities plugging their latest puff piece autobiographies. Anyone and everyone who is plugging a book in any given year has a table at the Austin show.
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It’s easy enough to look up some book you’ve been looking for for years on Amazon or whatever, but I love the intoxicating smell of ink and paper when I walk into a good bookstore. It makes me high in a good way. It’s a definite rush when I find some long out-of-print rarity at a garage sale for a hand-full of chump-change.
My eyes roll up in my head when I find a stack of old National Lampoons or Sex To Sexties at a flea market for a dollar each and the guy on the other side of the table is more than happy just to get rid of them. (“You WANT those?”)
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Now walking into the exhibition hall at Will Rogers last night I knew better than to expect to find any real bargains. The people on the other side of these tables had a much better handle on what their books were worth than the flea market vendors. And since this was a weekend event none of these vendors were going to give themselves hernias moving mass quantities of heavy used books; most of them seemed more interested in handing out cards and fliers for their stores and websites.

The majority of the books I looked at were new, and the big emphasis seemed to be on all things Texas.
Books about Texas, books by Texas authors, books published in Texas; you get the drift.
Got to see a lot of autographed books; held a copy of Side Effects signed by Woody Allen. Saw a signed copy of Gone With the Wind, a signed Hemingway, a signed Faulkner, a signed Steinbeck, etc.
One vendor had a shelf several feet long and taller than myself of nothing but signed Steven King and Dean Koontz books; jeez, I knew those guys wrote a lot of books but….
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I only bought one book: “Eddie Barkers Notebook” ( he was the first news reporter in Dallas to confirm the death of JFK, something that was more often than not credited to Dan Rather) which you can get yourself from and I have only started reading it this morning but it’s pretty riveting so far. He goes right into the JFK assassination as any book with Lee Harvey and Jack Ruby’s mug shots on the cover should.

It’s tough being a writer. You nag your friends and relatives to read your work and they act like you just asked them for their wallets. And speaking of which; just try selling your work. Today’s youth have no interest in reading; you’re competing with TV, the Internet and video games. You want to sell them a book, you had better be telling one HELL of a story ( or be able to sell it as a movie) It’s enough to make you wonder why anyone bothers at all.

But somehow bookstores manage to survive. There is a local chain here called Half Price Books that has managed to put the majority of the independent used book stores out of business by proxy of having a rather large number of locations throughout the state.
And despite having almost zero advertising, the fair seemed to have a decent crowd last night.

Maybe there’s a little hope for this Idiocracy yet….


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