Happens now and then that restlessness wiggles its way into my days and brings on an urge to get away from the daily same ol’, same ol’ sights of water, sky and sand. The noise and disruption of spring break and its party crowds would probably have been enough to send anyone else running for the hills, but I hung around. Now that it’s quiet around these parts once again, a ‘get in the car and go’ notion grabbed me this morning and wheeled me off to Daytona.
There have been quite a few articles, editorials and musings lately regarding the effect e-books have had on the publishing industry. I’ve read a few of them and even made my own comments on the issue. With their convenient home delivery and competitive pricing giants like Amazon play a part in the demise of independent booksellers, and I am probably not alone in realizing that the popularity of e-books must have something to do with the increasing difficulty smaller booksellers face in keeping their doors open. Sometime after 2007 and the arrival of the Kindle bookstores began vanishing. One of them was a huge and favorite used book dealer in Daytona called Mandala Books. The demise of many Borders Books franchises may or may not be related to increased e-book sales, but at least there’s still one of those not too far away. According to Andy Rooney in a recent CBS commentary, e-books are now selling better than paperback books. He goes on to say that he wants his ‘real’ books, unable to imagine not being able to pick up a book and thumb through it. A publisher friend of Rooney’s believes that e-books will eventually make books extinct. Since moving back to the US and going everywhere in a car, my Kindle has languished on a shelf draining its battery charge away with lack of use. It’s a little different traveling on buses and trains every day when a Kindle is definitely a lightweight convenience.
But good news in Daytona. In the building that once housed Mandala Books on International Speedway a new store has appeared called Daytona Books & Metaphysics. There is a lot about the store that is familiar because the owner bought Mandala’s unsold inventory, and there it remains in much the same shelf locations. The other half of the store is related to metaphysical things I hardly noticed. Lots of incense, candles and zen ditties, and I believe they have palm readings or something of that nature. I didn’t give any of it more than a glance. The bookshelves have been well-cleaned, the books sorted and re-shelved and all of it returned to its old-book charms, still hiding the occasional rare first edition at a very reasonable price.
Around the corner and three blocks down Beach Street is Abraxas Books, another used bookseller with so many shelves, stacks and boxes of books, a complete browsing of everything inside would take at least three five-hour days. When I first walked in, struggling through an ancient and hard-to-open door, I looked around at all the books thinking I had stumbled upon a corner of heaven. The owner of the store told me that his collection of first editions in literature was the weakest in the store, but he was obviously being humble—the collection is rich enough to thrill, all of it priced reasonably. I picked up a 1965 first book club edition of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood for five dollars. All in all I bought five books at the two stores spending thirty-three dollars.
The photograph above shows the five books and one extra spread across a table
1. Afterlife by Paul Monette, 1990 first edition
2. Acts of Faith by Philip Caputo, 2005 Advanced Reader’s Edition
3. Best of the South (Stories), 1996 first edition
4. Net of Jewels by Ellen Gilchrist, 1992 first edition
5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, 1965 first edition (book club)
6. Naoko by Keigo Higashino, 2004 paperback (arrived by mail from Amazon)
First read from the stack above? From No. 3, A 1994 story by Barry Hannah titled, “Nicodemus Bluff.”