The Wax Conspiracy

Friends of the library sales are a second-hand racket

Again, before the due date arrives, the library shelves stock books no one will read and that will pass lonely, more under the dust, at the annual (but not annual enough) book sale. It is a purge more than anything, and the smell of fresh pages butting against the mould is only enough.

It is a long game, one fraught with many potential fingers poking through the crust, but it’s a game nonetheless. The librarian, mouthing for their friend, or some other tract, requests a book that the library should do well to stock. A veritable pluck of interest that will serve the great community’s interests.

First they go to the round of budget line items, listing out the titles before the board approves or denies on the whims of whatever arguments render unto them that snowblind afternoon. They want home. They want to nap a little in that crook between the fiction section stashed on another floor behind the tumbling building blocks. Falling blocks the sounds of white noise because the longer you work next to falling foam the less it makes any noise at all.

The book is purchased. It is wrapped in that suffocating plastic and tattooed with a dozen stamps of the library’s address. It goes on the new releases shelf. Itself a shelf at least a leaf and eight months after what really would be retail new. It moves along into the library proper. It racks up neither reads nor checkouts but the casual swipe of that grimy fingertip thumbing through the Dewey.

It is that book you see wedged in the wrong section. Wrong by author, wrong by topic. But not wrong by the person who places it there, the same who stashes a shirt in the pants department to come by later with a sure idea they want it after all. Always a moving target under nobody’s watch.

Before too long it escapes this Gehenna of dust motes and segregation by way of the annual book sale. Now, the book bought at cost, or with that library bulk discount, sits under the sunroof amid the rustle of book bags and canvas shoulder slings. That friend with an ear, or some other tract, spots the copy of Lone Wolf and Cub Volume 1: The Assassin's Road and with a deft hand, stacks it between some Harlequin and a World Book Encyclopaedia (G volume, with all the goats) to walk it altogether to the cash register.

“Dollar each for the hardcovers. Fifty cents for the paperback. Two fifty total,” says the square glasses clinging desperately to the neck chain.

Should the book be free of stretch marks and stamp ink you’ve found that all too common back-of-the-bookmobile stock. Time to run it off to the second-hand bookshop to sell it off at time and a half the quarter price.

Ethan Switch

Written on Sunday, 20 March 2016

The Wax Conspiracy

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