A Total Used Bookstore Geek



Yes, I admit it wholeheartedly! I am a used book geek. I throw in used bookstore because well, I own a used bookstore (duh!) so actually does that make me a double-geek? I don’t care. That’s who I am and proud of it!

So, I have become a maniac for stickers on book jackets. I came across one book – ugh! I can’t remember which one! – and I saw the sticker “Shakespeare & Co. ” What? Really? Seriously? I adore/admire/envious/etc., etc.  of Sylvia Beach, the woman behind Shakespeare & Company. The first and real one. Of course the sticker I found isn’t from her era but still, it is from Paris (assuming).

I downloaded the above photo from the Internet many years ago and have it stuck to the wall above my desk here at the store -where I’m sitting right now- and I attached the sticker to it. (see above.) So cool. It makes me happy.

Someday…I’ll make it to Paris. And London. And Hay-On-Wye…And…

[Used] Books vs E-books

Right off, my comparison is going to be a lot different than you are probably use to. As a seller of used books I’m not frightened of e-readers. Not at all. Why you ask? Well, let’s look at the differences.

When you think of used books you might think of an image such as:
Or what about this:Or:
Books – physical books – stir emotions. Create anticipation. Discovery. As well as artistic backdrops. The smell, possible notations from previous owner(s), mementos tuck in between pages. Even serve as a diary. A diary of remembrance. A pile of books. Enjoyable to look at. Am I not right? Of course I am!

Here’s a couple of e-book (Kindle) images my daughter took. I told her to think artistically.

(What is she reading???)

And to be fair, one more:

See what I mean? And of course, real books are better to read. Maybe heavier but so much more personality. I know I’m right.  And to be fair to my daughter, she has piles of books around. Piles! I don’t know why she has a Kindle but I don’t judge.

And besides, you’ll never see this with any e-books – an aisle full of them.



Otter Creek Used Books On Stage

I went online and snagged the following photos posted on the college’s Middlebury Campus newspaper [http://middleburycampus.com/2013/01/27/into-the-woods/]. I just had to show the set. Be forewarned! You are going to swoon. All the books came from the store and the pages (leaves) were books that were either falling apart or destined for the local recycling center. Can you imagine a book not wanting to be a part of this amazing set? For information about the play see my previous post. Enjoy!

And Starring….Otter Creek Used Books

Yes, books from the store will be starring in Middlebury College “J” term’s production of INTO THE WOODS. How much fun is that? A lot of fun!

Ok, there will be college actors and all that but seriously it’s all about the books, isn’t it?

Doug Anderson, Executive Director of Town Hall Theater here in Middlebury is the stage director and has done a “J” term musical production for a number of years.  His vision for this year’s set was a library. And well, you know what a library consists of. So he contacted me to see if it was possible to supply him with a great number of books. Of course! I don’t know how many boxes went out of the store but a lot. Now I’m itching to see the set. But I’m going to be a good audience. Yes, I could have slipped in but I want to experience the whole theatrical effect – lights, audience, smell.  The whole theater experience.

Here’s a photo of some of the students loading up one of the cars:

And to give you an idea of what the set will look like here is a mock-up of one scene:

Took my breathe away! The trees – apple ladders – with their leaves of book pages.  (Note: all pages were from books falling apart.) And see all the bookshelves? It blew my mind to see this and made me so jealous that I never thought of such a set.  I know, I’m such a nerd! But tonight I will be a happy nerd and a proud used bookseller seeing my books under the lights.

Resolution Time!

I generally don’t make resolutions but I decided this year I would and publicly announce them. I should clarify, store related. Personally I don’t make any. I’m not even going to put myself in that position. Store related is different. Its professional. It is all about the store and being a good used bookstore lady and representative of the industry. An industry I believe in and one that I feel has a strong future. Seriously now, do you believe that e-books will totally replace books? I don’t. Even if I didn’t own a used bookstore I’d feel that way. Anyways, before I lose track of this post…

Resolutions.  What kind of resolution would a used bookstore want to make? Post more books online, is one thing. Make a conscious effort in blogging and better represent the books that enter the store. Feature them. Write about them. Maybe work towards creating an inventory of the books? And how about this one…read. Yes, read. I’m giving myself permission to read when the store is open. Well, that’s craziness, you are probably thinking. You think I read all the time. No. I don’t. Actually there is a lot of work to do in a used bookstore. It can be what you want to make of it. I chose to be – or try – to be on top of the incoming books. By now you know that I don’t like boxes of books lying around. Especially me. So I try to go through them quickly to SPS (sort, price, shelve). But lately I’m finding myself not so intense about them. Am I getting lax? Maybe so. Or maybe I’m starting to feel more comfortable with the store and relaxing some. Something to ponder, if one so chooses.

There might be more to the list but for someone who doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions I think that it’s a lot. So with that…here’s to an awesome 2013!


Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes Under Glass

Great A, little a,
Bouncing B;
The cat’s in the cupboard,
And she can’t see.

I thought I would feature these nursery book pages that are hanging around the store.

The book came in with a moldy cover but fortunately the pages were still okay. Phew! I rescued them and have some posted around the store as well as two pages framed. What is interesting about the frames is that they are reversible! What?! Yes, each page features a rhyme on each side so how could one side be covered up? If you get tired of one side just flip the frame to the other side and admire the other rhyme for a while.

Here is an example of the front of the frame:

And here is the back of the frame which is also under glass:

How clever, huh? Framing was done by Nancy of Artemis Framing, who also is the Marble Works gardener. The pages are sold separately or if interested, Nancy can mount and frame for you. Nancy is so talented!

Stop in and check them out.

August 10 2012 Middlebury Arts Walk @ OCUB

Poetry in the Park[ing Lot]

Inspiration can be found anywhere. Including a parking lot. Be a part of a Poetry Event!


Marble Works Signage

Drive to and park in the north Marble Works parking lot with a copy of your favorite poem. Post the poem in your car windshield for all to read as one mingles through the lot.

Then stop in the store and view our featured poet, local resident, Ginger Dowling Miller.


all poetry books will be 50% off during the Arts Walk, August 10, 2012,  5 pm-7 pm.

“Each space in the parking lot is marked with a simple bit of wisdom.” ~lisaleonardonline.com.

Catching Up With OCUB

Hello! I have been so busy and I’ve been wanting to update my blog but well, you know how I am – or you should – I can’t stand boxes and clutter. Especially boxes all around me in the front room. (Still need to come up with a cool name for this room.) I’ve had a lot of boxes come in so that means I’ve been busy. Busy SPSing. You know, sorting/pricing/shelving. Getting books up on the shelves and keeping the room sort-of respectable-like. I do have to write that currently I am surrounded with boxes of books: french, children, spirituality, over-sized art and wildlife, and at my feet…well, I started a pile I’ve set aside for me to read. It is Saturday and I just want a little break.

I have a lot to write about! One thing, the book I highlighted in my last post…sold! I was sad but yet I knew it was going to a great home so I was excited. Mixed emotions. It sold because the woman who purchased it read my blog and came in to look at and hold the book. I admitted I tucked the book away – sure it was on a shelf but one had to look for it. She was excited it was still here. I hope the lucky recipient enjoys it as much as she and I do.

The Vermont History Expo was held in Tunbridge several weekends ago and on that Sunday I went down to help out in the VABA booth along with some of my fav VT used bookstore owners. In the few hours that we were all together we had great conversations ranging from customer habits (Yes, all good! Ok, mostly.), to how we really feel about used books (we love them, of course!), what sells and what doesn’t, and we threw in some ghost stories to make it all interesting. Unfortunately I cannot upload the photos I took that day. My laptop faded out early last week. It really just faded out. Now I am using a new-to-me Mac that my daughter gave me. Ugh! Going from a PC to an Apple is a very difficult thing. For me. I’m not complaining because her husband is pulling out my files and transferring to another new-to-me laptop. So I am patiently waiting to receive that computer. When I receive it then I’ll post those images and get on with my postings.

I’m constantly asked what I read. Well, I’ve recently started reading VT women authors: Kathryn Davis,  Sue Halpern and Suzi Wizowaty to name a few. Of course Dorothy Canfield Fisher is who I’ll be going to next. Then onto one of the nicest woman around (yes, a local author), Julia Alvarez. Plus in-between I have been reading books on books or bookstores: Ulin’s, “The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time” and in the middle of Margaret Hard’s “A Memory of Vermont: Our Life in the Johnny Appleseed Bookshop.” And to really mix it up I’m almost done with a May Sarton book, “Shadow of a Man,” to which I’m most grateful to one of my amazing customers for making the author suggestion.

So sorting, pricing, shelving (constantly) and throw in cleaning the books as they come out of the boxes, reading, embroidering I’ve been keeping busy. Note I didn’t mention cleaning my house….yeah….


mmmm….Do You Smell That? Take A DEEP Breathe…. :)

So…chemists at University College in London investigated  the odor of books and have concluded that “old books release hundreds of volatile organic compounds into the air from the paper.” Okay. I get that. Well, the lead scientist has described the smell as “A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness.” And that’s why we all love the smell of old books! Acids and vanilla = perfect combo!

Researching a bit on this topic I learned that there is now a scratch-it that releases the smell of old books. To put on one’s I-pad or Nook or other e-readers. Really? That’s crazy! So people think that they can add a scratch-it sticker and feel better holding their e-reader because now it’ll seem like holding a book? mmm. I find that just craziness. Why not just purchase a used book? I guarantee you’ll appreciate that book a whole lot better. Remember it’s the experience.




What’s Going on in Otter Creek Used Books?

Sitting in my rearranged front room sipping some ice tea (Oolong) from Stoneleaf Tea House, my courtyard neighbor and settling myself down to write. It’s been awhile since I’ve added anything. I’ll post pictures soon of the new room arrangement. I’m liking it better.

Life’s been good. Had a ton of boxes come in so I’ve been busy going through them and getting them on the shelves. I’m currently offering store credit for now. April and May are generally slow months here and this year I have to say, it’s no different even in this location. My sales haven’t been too far off from when I was located on Main Street but enough to make me curb spending and doing some fancy bookwork juggling. Looking forward to the summer months and the outdoors Farmers Market returning to the area.


So what’s been coming in? A lot of gardening, herbal, homesteading, beekeeping, philosophy, and fiction – hardcover and soft.  And vegetarian cookbooks. Oh and a signed John Denver. I was excited to see that. He was one of my heroes. Now know that I’m excited about seeing his signature. Yes, I put a value on the book and posted it on Abebooks where I sell online but that’s the business side of the store. I work mostly on the emotional side of books and the store, in general. I guess that’s why I have such a time adding books online. It’s so impersonal. I’d have to completely revamp my store life in order to accommodate selling online. I recognize in today’s market that is what I should be doing.  Am I wrong for being a throw-back to running a used bookstore?  Being in-store customer based? Possibly. I admit it but then I gotta be me, right?