Once Michael Seidenberg had a string of bookstores in New York City. Now, he has a secret one where he sells books by appointment only. But before these businesses, he sold books on the street.
In a recent New Yorker article, Seidenberg recounts a particularly sad sales experience.
"Once, a couple stopped,” he recalled. “And the man asked his girlfriend, ‘Do you want a book?’ She said, ‘No, I already have a book.’”
I had a similar experience once while browsing through books at an antique store in Jeffereson, Texas, where, to my surprise, I found a copy of Tom Sawyer by Samuel Clemens, printed before the author took on the pen name of Mark Twain.
I watched two twenty-something girls run their hands over the spines of other old books.
"So, what kind of book are you looking for?"
"A green one."
God help the writers.