Buying used books has its own appeal. This generally lies in prowling through musty aisles and rifling through stacks of used books, usually in a nondescript shop in one of the quirkier neighborhoods of Seattle - Fremont, the University area or Capitol Hill. In Seattle, this usually also involves stepping over a cat or two.
The books themselves have their own stories to tell. I prefer "clean" books with no obvious signs of previous ownership, but the occasional random book with blemishes slips through. These can get interesting though.
My copy of The Money Game by Adam Smith has this on the inside title page:
_____ & _______:
This year's investment classic from your parents (in-law). Read and prosper.
____ & _______
Wise words indeed - "Read and prosper".
When I bought The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Qureishi, I paid little attention to the fact that it was published by Penguin Italia. "Maybe it's an import". However, when I started reading it, out popped a receipt.
Via Dei Pellegrini 1-3
It's a bill for 2500 Liras (that's 1.29 Euros as the receipt helpfully says). It's dated the 14th of September 2000 - that's 14-09-00 for you dd/ mm/ yy'ers. The web tells me that the Lira ceased being legal tender in 2002, replaced completely by the Euro.
It makes me think. What was I doing on the 14th of September 2000? It was a Thursday, meaning I was probably in college in India attending some kind of class or another.
This book's provenance just went from humdrum Barnes & Noble / Amazon to something altogether exotic. How did it end up in a used book store in Seattle? Was it an Italian student who bought it there, eventually ending up in Seattle and selling the book while leaving? Or more likely, someone from Seattle on a summer trip to Europe? I can see him or her in Europe, taking in the sights of an altogether beautiful and alien continent, reading about an alien adjusting to a new and exciting world.
Dead books tell tall tales.