Gentilly Girl- a part of the 99%

May 28, 2007

“I’m Burning (Books) For You…”

Filed under: Books,New Orleans — Tags: , — Morwen Madrigal @ 4:18 am

Interesting piece about a bookseller with too many books.

“Tom Wayne amassed thousands of books in a warehouse during the 10 years he has run his used book store, Prospero’s Books. His collection ranges from best sellers like Tom Clancy’s “The Hunt for Red October” and Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities,” to obscure titles like a bound report from the Fourth Pan-American Conference held in Buenos Aires in 1910, didn’t sell. But wanting to thin out his collection, he found he couldn’t even give away books to libraries or thrift shops, which said they were full. So on Sunday, Wayne began burning his books [to] protest what he sees as society’s diminishing support for the printed word.” 

This story just rips my heart apart: I spent twenty years running bookstores. I had a massive personal library that took decades to amass. (Alas, it’s gone now.) I miss being around books.
One thing we need in the City is another good new/used bookstore.  Anyone out there that would like to help an old bookseller build her dream for New Orleans? It’ll be a place that covers the normal stock, but would specialize in NOLA cultures and have an Antiquarian book search from Hades. It would survive here… promise! (I never had a losing P & L.) The place can even hold it’s own against Barnes and Nobles or Borders… I opened stores for both of them.
I even have some names for the place: Diluvian Books, Dark Rose Books, or Between the Covers.  It would need to be in Gentilly (since I don’t drive), and authors would be encouraged to come and talk about their works… I’ll even set up a library replenishment drive for the City, have readings for kids, carry local art…

This idea is viable here at this time, and it beats me having to train cooks for the restaurant that Betts wants to open. (Mongolian BBQs are not copacetic with make-up… trust me)


  1. I’m somewhat interested. (Investing in a bookstore doesn’t strike me as the most lucrative idea around, but you can make just about anything work with enough enthusiasm, creativity and expertise.)

    How much start up capital do you think you’d need?

    Comment by oyster — May 29, 2007 @ 10:33 am

  2. I love book stores. Especially used book stores. I used to hang out in one in San Jose.

    Sadly the book store I worked in was corporate where the goal was to know “What was popular” so you could put it in the encap and push more. “Face out those Clan of the Cave Bears! They’re hot this week!” (to give you an idea of the era this was.

    I remember thinking, what about what is good? Do you even read these books?
    No, but we merchandise them well they replied

    Comment by spocko — May 29, 2007 @ 5:53 pm

  3. Spocko,

    My view upon what a bookseller is, is just this: I’m your teacher, the tour guide, geologist, historian, mythologist, priestess, sociologist or the unknown. In Fiction I must be able to find one new Worlds to experience.

    I do this by asking questions, probing you or the one that you are buying for. I get enough clues in order to formulate solutions, and then I show you my wares.

    That’s old bookselling, and it’s a magical art. You have to love what you handle. You have to have a feel for what is between those two covers, even if you haven’t consumed it personally.

    It’s a wonderful feeling when you can touch and turn someone on to something new and unique.


    I will keep on this. The prob is the City lost most of it’s stock of older books, and I have to refresh myself with those from the Past who have stores and possibly spare stock. (they will give if overstocked to New Orleans)

    If you’re interested, please let’s take this to the private realms. Something very good could come from this.

    Comment by Morwen Madrigal — May 30, 2007 @ 1:08 am

  4. This post will be included in today’s edition of the “Carnival of Hurricane Relief.” See:

    Comment by cehwiedel — May 31, 2007 @ 10:11 am

  5. What a fabulous idea. I worked at Maple Street Bookshop for a few years, and also loved the feeling of turning someone on to something new and/or unique. I think the state of local bookshops says a lot about a city; like Natalie Goldberg said, “When I encounter a town without a little bookstore, I feel sad for the place.”

    Comment by chrissieroux — May 31, 2007 @ 6:42 pm

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