Monday, December 18, 2006

Caveat Emptor Continues to Rock

One of the cool things about Bloomington is that it has the prototype used bookstore. Anyone who lives here will not need to be told I'm talking about Caveat Emptor.

Could there be a bookstore anywhere that fits more stereotypes? Caveat Emptor is on the square in one of those high-ceiling old shops. You know, the kind where the owners used to live upstairs. It consists of towers of mismatched shelves literally overflowing with books - which spill out into the boxes on the floor. The "sections," such as they are, are labeled with yellowed slips of paper written in magic marker oh, a good 15-20 years ago. And while the sections mostly do a good job keeping track of what's where - they do blend and mix a lot. There's an old man with huge glasses who sits buried in books behind the "counter" in the front. Though the store takes credit cards, it doesn't have a computer or even a proper cash register. Store credit for trades is still written on index cards which are stuffed into what looks like a recipe box in semi-alphabetical order. As he was recording my credit today, the old man mentioned that they were thinking of getting a computer, but that he was opposed to it because messy recipe boxes with shreds of paper sticking out every which way don't crash. I explained to him that you can back up data, and he responded "only if you think about it." Logical. Best part about it - the store only has semi-regular hours. There's a sign on the door that saying something like "this store sometimes opened late at owner's discretion, but never earlier than 10am." Or is it 11?

My favorite part about that place, though, is the one stereotype it DOESN'T fit: the old man behind the counter isn't a left-winger. Every time I go in there he says something to someone I agree with. (Since he chats up all the customers - mostly to show off how much reading he's done - there's a lot of sample data.) Today it was to me - while I was handing over my big box of books for sale. He pulled out one on Margaret Thatcher and commented "Wonderful lady!" There was another by Noam Chomsky (that I got free as a TA's textbook copy this semester) for which his comment was "I don't like this guy at all - but he sells, so I'll buy it." HA!

Highly recommended, Caveat Emptor. They gave me a decent sum in store credit - and I spent half of it - mostly on books about Chess and Bridge, but also on a scifi paperback.


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