Book Heaven

Where the world of books and life intersect

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Location: South Amboy, New Jersey

I am deeply involved in trying to solve the discrepancy between being interested in zen and trying to acquire all the things I've been accumulating

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Vanishing Books!

If you read Nicholson Baker's wonderful Double Fold, you know that books are disappearing from libraries at an alarming rate. I had only thought that we were talking about large libraries, but noooooo, as it turns out they're disappearing from my little local town library as well. As I was leaving the library last week, I noticed a sign on the door: BOOK SALE. Unable to resist, I found my way back to the reference room where the sale books were located. I was shocked to find a copy of zen master Alan Watts' biography In My Own Way (Pantheon Books, 1972) in the discard pile. Almost as shocking was Robert Taylor's Fred Allen: His Life and Wit, a choice 1989 biography of the radio funnyman. Surely this was a mistake. These are not the type of books one normally finds in a library book sale. They really should be back on the shelves.

I also found a copy of Barry Eisler's Hard Rain (Putnam, 2003), the second book in the well received series about Japan based freelance hit man, John Rain. His first book, Rain Fall, was a Publisher's Weekly Best Novel of 2002, a book about which James Ellroy said: "a hypnotically hip resurrection of the hit-man thriller. It's got it all: dazzling plot, deft characterization, beaucoup originality." Surely somebody would be looking for this book and would be disappointed not to find it.

I also found Ellery Queen's Book of First Appearances (The Dial Press, 1982), a collection of the first story appearances by twenty-five famous names in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Why would you discard a book like this?

How about Louis L'Amour's Education of a Wandering Man (Bantam Books, 1989)?
At first I thought these books were probably being discarded because of lack of space. When I went to the place where the Zen and Buddhism books were shelved, I was sad to find that a zen book that I really wanted was GONE! (having evidently been discarded earlier when I wasn't looking). Since the shelf was only half full, and they weren't adding many books of this nature, the space consideration didn't seem to make sense. I finally concluded that maybe it was the fact that these books hadn't been checked out lately that doomed them. The last due date on the L'Amour bio was 2/1/99, the Watts book was 4/24/00, and the Fred Allen was 9/21/98.

Whatever the reason for their deaccessioning, I was glad to get them. The price: 25 cents each or 6 for a dollar. Good books for sixteen and two-thirds cents a pop. Unbelievable!!!

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