The Life of a Used Book Store Owner

“In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody’s best friend.” – Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind.


I went to a used book sale recently and overheard a comment about the behavior of used book dealers. I was the only “dealer” in the immediate area. The implied comment was maybe in humor. Maybe not. Maybe to send a message. Maybe not. I wasn’t sure. I let it pass but then maybe I didn’t. Obviously not if I feel the urge to address it and feel the need to set the record straight. Or at least to introduce myself and present myself as to how I feel I represent a dignified group of people. The type of people I associate myself with. And to also point out that some private citizens behave badly at used book sales. Worse than dealers. But then I generally find people are quite civilized at most of the used book sales I attend. Granted, I don’t attend many since I purchased the store. I have come to rely on book scouts to represent me and the store. And I know they are very polite. Even the one who is trained for outdoor living skills.

I get it. Used books can trigger a need of possession. The need can be overwhelming to some people. They will go to great measures to be the one to scout out the book, grab it, shield it so others will not discover they are now the owner of the book. You know. They are the type to keep window curtains closed to their library from prying eyes who also will want to possess their books. Yes, I do know people like that.

modern_libraryThat is not me. Far from it. I enjoy books. I take great satisfaction from books. I seek books out when I’m in the need of a good friend. Books offer comfort. Stability in a crazy world. A good cup of tea  or milky coffee, a comfy chair, an afghan for chilly nights or rocking on my front porch to catch a cool breeze. I’m not married to books. I don’t personally need to possess them. When I finish reading my books they come into the store to resell. I pass them along and get great satisfaction to see someone picking up a book I just finished. Don’t get me wrong. I do have a library at home. Of books I want to read.  See the difference?

And in case you are wondering, dear reader, yes. We are daily going through boxes of books and getting then on the shelves – or piled on the floor.  Inventory is coming in, it seems, daily. Trying to keep up.

“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books.” 

Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 


Half-off Book Sale is On!


“You can’t put a price tag on love. But if you could, I’d wait for it to go on sale.” -Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not for Sale.

Yep! The summer’s 50% off all books sale is here!

I’d type more but don’t want to over exert my arm from my recent minor surgery. And anyways, all you really want to read is that the sale is on, right?

Monday June 18 – Saturday June 30. Open Mon-Sat 10-5.

FOODAROO: Fourth Annual Festival will again be held in the MarbleWorks Sunday, June 24, 2018 from 4:00 to 8:00pm. Food trucks! Music! And more! OCUB will be open 2-5pm. Stop by.





Trying to Be a Better Otter


IMG_2576I can’t do much. I had minor surgery on my arm and I’ve been told I can’t lift anything over 5 lbs. Seriously? But, I own a used bookstore! I lift all day long. Ugh! So as I look around me all I see are piles of books: to be sorted. to be clean. to be shelved. I don’t work one-book-at-a-time. I work in piles. Armloads. I told my family I’d be good. Can’t even embroider. Truly a unhappy face.

Today and the rest of the week I’m going to do things I enjoy doing. Like grabbing fun  books I want to read. Like reading and listening to everything Fleetwood Mac. Listening to their early stuff with Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer and reading Mick Fleetwood’s “Play On: Now, Then & Fleetwood Mac: The Autobiography.” Then digging into “Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks”. A definite departure of what usually goes on in here. And eating fish & chips from Costello’s Market. Diet schmiet.

And if you are reading this you might want to mark your calendar for the upcoming 50% sale. June 18-30.

“You can’t put a price tag on love. But if you could, I’d wait for it to go on sale.” -Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not for Sale.



A Neglectful Otter

piles.jpgI know. I haven’t updated this website for a couple of months. Very bad. The good thing is I have been so busy working on inventory. We receive boxes just about daily and I try to go through them as they come in. SPS is my daily thing. Sorting the books, pricing and then shelving. Cleaning when needed. It’s just Hannah and I in the store and we  generally work alone so whoever is in has the responsibility of maintaining the inventory and shelving. I envy those stores who have assistants dedicated to shelving. On top of all that I currently have an overflowing box full of books needing protective covers. Always things to do.

Seriously working on turning this site into an online shop. I think I’m almost ready. It is not only a cost but time commitment. Entering books and keeping the inventory current.

Know the store is doing well. We are busy and all is great!

If you cannot read all your books…fondle them—peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them, at any rate, be your acquaintances. -Winston S. Churchill

Crossing the Mississippi – 2018!

mississippiOk, to be totally upfront, I really, really wanted to post about a situation that recently occurred in the store with a ruder than rude customer. But 2018 is a year of  being positive. At all costs. So instead, I am going to write about checking-off items on my personal bucket list that I’ve neglected for so long. So pooh! to that person and here’s to positive energy and being happy and joyful.

If “Been there, done that” isn’t your mantra, then make haste down your “bucket list. -Gina Greenlee, Postcards and Pearls: Life Lessons from Solo Moments in New York.

A vacation is external. A pilgrimage is internal. An adventure combines them. -Eddy L. Harris, Mississippi Solo: A River Quest.

One of my top items on my bucket list is crossing the mighty Mississippi. The further west I’ve been is Kentucky. I’m not a flyer. Put me behind a wheel and I’m fine. I’ve missed out on some adventures but… Seeing the Mississippi is important to me because of its history, its value to our country. Abe Lincoln to Sam Clemens. Ulysses S. Grant.  I want to visit the western Civil War sites as well as places Grant called home. Vicksburg won’t be included in this trip. That’s for another time.

Galena, IL is as far north for this trip. Walking over the Mississippi via the Chain of Rocks Bridge then driving over via the newer bridge. Tennessee offers up a scaled model of the Mississippi where you can walk the 1,000-mile alongside the actual river. I’m such a nerd.

I’ve been preparing. Collecting maps. Downloading maps and other literature. Sent for information. Making lists and taking suggestions. Starting to really focus in on what I want to see and learn. There is so much but if I stay focused it’ll all be fine. You see, there are so many museums, historic sites and used bookstores between here and there. I want to visit each and every place. Obviously I can’t. And yes, I have a folder titled, “Crossing the Mississippi”.

I have an awesome friend who’s assisting me in this venture. She’s my floor whisperer, provider of chocolate, confidant, bearer of bouquets when a person really needs flowers, and everything in between. I can’t wait to see what she finds and we start comparing sites, landmarks and such.

I’ll keep you all posted. But you’ll have to ask.  I’ll be heading out Saturday, March 17 and returning on the 31st. The store will be open but the hours will be different. Once the schedule is nailed down it’ll be posted. I hope everyone will be patient and understanding. Thank you in advance.

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.
-Augustine of Hipppo


February! It’s Here Again…

“Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?”
-William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

“February is pitiless, and it is boring. That parade of red numerals on its page adds up to zero: birthdays of politicians, a holiday reserved for rodents, what kind of celebrations are those? The only bubble in the flat champagne of February is Valentine’s Day. It was no accident that our ancestors pinned Valentine’s Day on February’s shirt: he or she lucky enough to have a lover in frigid, antsy February has cause for celebration, indeed.” -Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

One more….

“February – the month of love..?!!
No wonder the shortest one in the calendar.” -Dinesh Kumar Biran

See, I’m not the only one who hates February. Ok, maybe they don’t actually hate it but frankly, February stinks. Except for chocolate on Valentine’s Day, even if I have to buy it myself. For being a short month it still is a crappy one. I know, I write about my strong feelings for the Feb every year. This isn’t a new thing. It goes back many years to when I was a little girl. What is the purpose of February? Just a thorn in my side. One month before my birthday month so it was in my way.

The recent snow we’ve had is beautiful. Today’s temperature is hovering around 40. Good signs but not good enough for me. So, you know what that means? Yep!

I Hate February Sale! 

Monday, February 12 all books – ALL BOOKS – will be 50% off. Yes, all books. Every one. Every stinking book. 50% off. Yes, the one in your hand. Yes, your pile of books. Yes, even that one. And yes, that one. And that one. Every book. Every book in the store.

I take my cue from Ben from The Country Bookshop in Plainfield, VT. He’s one of my go-to guys when I have questions about book buying, book selling and everything bookstorish. When he has a sale it’s always 50%. His philosophy is that when you have a sale make it fun! Fun for your customers which will translate into fun for you the bookseller.  It’s fun to tell customers a sale is on and to see their reaction. And to bag their books and present it to them full of great savings. The purpose of a used bookstore is to sell used books, right? We want books out and read. It helps us turn the inventory around. It’s all good. You know, it has turned into so much fun because many regular customers know and expect it. A number of them have stopped in over the past number of weeks asking if I still hate February. Why wouldn’t I? Why would I like it? Yea….

So…all books. Yes, all books are on sale. February 12-February 28. Stop in and save me.

“In February, the overcast sky isn’t gloomy so much as neutral and vague. It’s a significant factor in the common experience of depression among the locals. The snow crunches under your boots and clings to your trousers, to the cuffs, and once you’re inside, the snow clings to you psyche, and eventually you have to go to the doctor. The past soaks into you in this weather because the present is missing almost entirely.”

– Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love

IMG_2972 (1)



Merry Christmas!


I love the Christmas-tide, and yet, 
I notice this, each year I live;
I always like the gifts I get,
But how I love the gifts I give!
-Carolyn Wells

Merry Christmas from Barbara, Hannah and Danya! See you Tuesday, December 26!

Jolabokaflod! Christmas Book Love! OCUB Style – 50% off Fiction!

fictionMy family has always followed the Icelandic custom of exchanging books on Christmas. We didn’t know it was such a tradition nor that it had a name. We just thought it was our thing to do. You know, sitting by the wood stove, sipping hot chocolate or coffee while reading a good novel. That was pretty much all we did that day.

In light of Iceland’s tradition and how more and more people are catching onto this awesome thing to do, OCUB will be having a surprise sale of 1/2 off fiction! Books in the Fiction aisle as well as in Paperback Alley are all 50% off their marked price! Let’s join in with Iceland and celebrate reading.

“Blíndur er bóklaus ma∂ur. Blind is a man without a book.” -Hannah Kent, Burial Rites. And, by the way, that was a good read!

Eleven Years! 11! Eleven Years….


People open shops in order to sell things, they hope to become busy so that they will have to enlarge the shop, then to sell more things, and grow rich, and eventually not have to come into the shop at all. Isn’t that true? But are there other people who open a shop with the hope of being sheltered there, among such things as they most value – the yarn or the teacups or the books – and with the idea only of making a comfortable assertion? They will become a part of the block, a part of the street, part of everybody’s map of the town, and eventually of everybody’s memories. They will sit and drink coffee in the middle of the morning, they will get out the familiar bits of tinsel at Christmas, they will wash the windows in spring before spreading out the new stock. Shops, to these people, are what a cabin in the woods might be to somebody else – a refuge and a justification.” -Alice Munro, Carried Away: A Personal Selection of Stories

Alice Munro, you get me. I consider myself one of the ‘other people’. I value the books I’m surrounded by. Immensely. I hope people think of me as ‘part of the block’, a part of the MarbleWorks community. A part of the Middlebury business community. You see, OCUB is my refuge and my justification. Justification of who I am. I can’t help but have this store be a part of me. Admittedly, it is only a part of who I am but it is a reflection. I allow bits of it to define me.

OCUB has been with me for many years it seems. A hidden dream that came true? I’m not sure. But I know when I was a factory worker many moons ago, in what seems like a different lifetime but my younger days, sitting at the machine my mind would wander to the outdoors and nature, of dreams to fulfill, inner expressions needing to bubble out, looking to unlock the untapped passion. Whatever it was, it was bigger than me.

When I unlock the store’s door in the morning I feel at home. Those that follow me in I hope they feel the same. Customers are a part of the driving force for keeping the business going. The connections we have. Friendships. Not only based on books but on stories, life situations, discussions, bantering, sharing of photos. All in good humor. I write frequently that I have the best customers and frankly, I believe I do. Walking in with a cup of tea, bouquet of flowers, chocolate bars, or sharing a meal to a bag of quality, donated books. Just popping in to say “hi!”. The connection and respect begins over a book.

#2 and #3 in '63 with our favorite book - at that time.

#2 (me) & #3 (Timothy) in ’63 with our current reads.                   (# refers to our birth order)

“Books are an essential part of my life, the place where I have spent many unforgettable moments.” – Terry W. Glaspey, Book Lover’s Guide to Great Reading: A Guided Tour of Classic & Contemporary Literature.  22613-3

Change of Plans – Week 11/6-11/10

Good news for OCUB in-store shoppers. Instead of closing the store for the week it will be open part of the time. Here’s the new schedule for the week: img_2622.jpg

Thanks to Hannah and Danya for holding down the store!

As for me, I’m going to do a lot of reading while I’m gone. I have the second in the series of the Elana Ferrante series to finish, The Story of a New Name, and Natasha Solomons’, The Song of Hartgrove Hall. To begin reading, and to continue on the 2017 Reading Challenge Hannah and a couple of customers have been working on,  Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (A book with a one-word title. An amazing old book. A feels-good-in-my-hands book),  and, Three Junes, by Julia Glass (A book with a number in the title). Plus, who knows what books I’ll pick up along the way.

“…my mom felt that a vacation was only a vacation if it involved reading at least two books on the beach.” – Lisa Greenwald, Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes.

“Who says books aren’t ‘real’ friends? We hug them, treasure them, relate to them, spend weekends with them, and bring them along on vacation!  – A.J. Sky