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Literally Speaking: The Book Trade

Literally Speaking: The Book Trade

September 24, 2013 | 9:00pm MST

It always plays out the same way.

The sun glared down on me, piercing my skin as I gather my belongings into my arms from the passenger seat and sling my purse over my head. With a tap of the hip, I swing the car door shut and squeeze my lips together down on the lock button of the keys nestled awkwardly in my mouth.

The walk to the doors is quick, to avoid drawing attention to my arms full of books. The retiree with perfectly combed hair smiles wryly at me as they carry their singular, intellectual work within their grasp. I offer an apologetic smile and finally make it to the doors.

A major shock to my system, the cold air of the store hits me. I clumsily adjust the books I'm hugging for the last time. Yes, I've hugged my books before.

I mosey past the check out counters and to the back of the store, where stacks of books wall in the person I plan to do business with - the trader. This is my type of acquisition. I put on my game face.

Mostly, because these books are for a younger skill of readers, and also because despite the tween-ness of these books, an area of my bookshelves at home are now barren. I try not to be too embarrassed.

The trader is busy about his work. He glances up at my stack and motions to place them on the rolling cart in front of the counter. In my ever-graceful way, I squat down to level my books with the cart and scoot them to the center for balance. I quickly scramble to pick up the two books that jumped ship from the cart.

My arms feel empty and lonely, and yet the promise of new books slowly begins to fill me with glee.

"Can I get your name?"

"Marie," I respond to the trader with a small smile. He tells me the books will be ready in 15 minutes. I nod, trying not to give any emotion away. On the inside, the prospect of new books propels me into the shelves of new releases and fiction.

I pull brand new books off the shelf and revel in the smooth grooves if the titles along the cover. I read the synopses. This plot sounds a lot like this adventure series I read last year. I mentally compartmentalize it as a "maybe". I see some classic John Steinbeck and smile excitedly... It's one of his works that I've been looking for for ages. I tuck it under my arm, pick up some other fun books, and I finally hear the trader calling my name.

$25 dollars.

Saying goodbye to the old books as they roll away, I take my $25 and the books under my arm to the check out lane.

I smile brightly at the cashier as she eyes the new John Green book appreciatively.

"Have a nice day," she grins. "Come again!"

And a few months later, the cycle starts again.


You can reach me at or on Twitter @marie_eo.

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