For more than a few of my fellow dealers, the public are an unwelcome intrusion on the trade
Rick Gekoski, blogging at The Guardian.
I, of course, had a terrific time. I revelled in the company of my fellow dealers, adored and was instructed by my customers, met with the public in my usual spirit of curiosity and good fellowship. But, a few booths away, one of my dealing colleagues was in a state of obvious misery, and his sighs of discomfort and occasional groans of misery could be heard halfway across the Exhibition Hall.
Concerned, I wandered over. He looked terrible, grey and sweaty, clearly in considerable psychological distress.
"I can't take any more," he moaned.
"More of what?" I asked, in my most caring voice.
"Dealing with the bloody public. They drive me mad!"
I have never suffered from this affliction, and asked for some details.
"Categories," he said, "they fall into different categories. I could compose a bloody taxonomy of the pathology of the book collector, but it would certainly be the last thing I'd ever do. It would rupture my spleen, or my heart if I had one anymore."
"What categories?" I asked, innocently intrigued.
He paused, mopped his brow with an already sopping shirt cuff, and took (another) swig from his hip flask. He lowered his voice.
"There's one of them just leaving," he said, "look at him, bloody time-waster!" In the distance a portly man with wild grey hair was staggering under the weight of a plastic bag filled with reading matter.
"Bought a lot, did he?" I asked. "Looks a nice fellow. Good for him. Sell him anything?"
"A catalogue collector," he said. "He comes every year. He has never bought a book, just collects everybody's catalogues and goes home."
"Seems harmless," I said. "Probably an academic."
"I hate them," he said, "but not as much as I hate browsers."
"Browsers? What's wrong with that? That is what fairs are for."
"Yeah, they look at every book on the stand, and handle them without any care or attention. Sometimes they check all the prices, and if they find a book you have forgotten to price, they call it to your attention. And even if it was a first edition of Ulysses, which they had virtually torn the covers off, if you said 'that one is five pounds', they would nod smugly and put it back…."
Full piece at The Guardian.