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How Many Ways?

How Many Ways?

By Greg Gibson

How many ways are there to do this business? Here is my old friend Adrian Connolly of Connolly’s Book Shop, Cork City,Ireland.

Adrian presides over a heap of mostly worthless books.

You know ... the kind that Gotbooks or Better World Books pick out of those drop boxes they leave around cities. Books they want you to think you’re donating to charity when, in fact, they'll sell them (you've already tried and failed).

Adrian once told me he buys his books by the pallet load from a jobber in London. Like bales of rags. He then prices them at  € 3 - € 10 and shelves them. All day people wandering through the busy Paul Street square, or shopping at the adjacent Tesco supermarket drift into his shop, spot a book they’ve never seen before, and purchase it. There are many books on Adrian's shelves that people have never seen before, because most of them expired and disappeared very soon after publication.

How Many Ways?

In fairness, Adrian does have an Irish history and literature section, perused by regular customers, and a flight of shelves containing cheap reprints of classics, also obtained by Adrian in London, on the cheap, in great quantities.

A few days ago I was standing in his shop and a lady came in with two shopping bags full of books to sell.  Adrian didn’t even look at them.

“I’m sorry, miss,” he said. “I have no money.”

“Well, will ye take them, then?  They’re good books.”

“I’m sorry, miss. I have no room.”

And out she went, Adrian staring gleefully after her. “Can you see now, Gregory (he always calls me Gregory), how simple it all is?”

I told him I could, indeed.

He owns his building and his house, and has a modest, comely wife who works the shop when he’s not there. I reckon they pull in € 200 a day or thereabouts.

This supports Adrian’s primary vocation, which is street corner philosophy. He spends about a third of his day, fair weather and foul, sitting on the low granite windowsill to the right of the door, servicing any number of lost souls, seekers of the truth, and fellow philsophers. Adrian is a master of speculative discourse. Employing principles articulated by Walter Shandy (if you turn to pages 147-150 in the attached link, you will learn the secret) he can hold forth for hours on any topic by the simple application of auxiliary verbs.

The weather in Cork has been lovely for the past week. It feels more like Italy than Ireland. I walk the banks of the river Lee for hours on end thinking about life.

How Many Ways?

I’m not thinking about the book business because my email has been down since I got here...

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It’s been a blessing.

(Posted on Bookman’s Log, presented here by permission of the author.)

Published since 24 Jun 2013