Wednesday, July 23, 2014

100 Miles from a Bookstore

In the places where some of us spend the summer, there is no such thing as a bookstore. You cannot drop in casually or order a book sent home. Or perhaps the nearest bookstore does not have the kind of book you need. 

Yet books are necessities. There are long, rainy days when you crave reading... And you may be 100 miles from the nearest bookstore. Perhaps 1,000 miles....But there's a bookstore that works all summer long....If you're not sure what you want, just write and ask. It is waiting for you ... A letter will bring it instantly. There will be no delay. 

We arrange it so that each book arrives on the proper date. So when one book is read the next arrives automatically!

Words written by the sales staff at Amazon Books?

Not at all.

These words were written in 1915 by the sale staff at the old Scribners Bookstore on Fifth Avenue in NYC. It was a time when readers not only craved good books for a good price, they took advantage of stores like Scribners who were willing to go the extra mile by sending their books to the consumer "automatically." 

Scribners wasn't just a store. It was a publisher too, responsible for the likes of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Scribners edited these authors, promoted their work, and sold their books in the Scribners bookstore, an outlet that attempted to deliver their products "instantly" to the consumer.

Sound familiar? 

Perhaps all publishers, bookstores, and authors can take a lesson from a system that worked quite well a century ago.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

End of the Road...

...or is it just the start?

A month on the global road:
--16,860 miles traveled by air, including a perfect circle around the globe, heading on an east-bound course the entire way (NYC to NYC) 
--Seven flights
--Six countries, three continents
--At least four different time zones (I've lost count)
--Temperatures ranging from 45F to 115F
--Modes of transportation: Airliner, boat, rickshaw, tuck tuck, tram, train, 4x4, car, van, elephant
--Food: vegetarian, seafood, mutton, beef

--Average amount of sleep per night: 4-5 hours
--Number of currencies: Four
--Terrorist attacks while en route to Dehli: two (both by Maoist Rebels aimed at the railroads. Total dead and injured: 100+)
--Top memories: The burning of the dead in Lumbini. The cleansing of the body in Varanasi, the giant orange swastika a holy backdrop. Monsoon rain and winds pummeling our little boat on the upper Ganges, and a human skull lying jaw up on the banks where we anchored and held onto our ratted rooftop tarp for dear life. Swimming downstream in the Ganges, nearly drowning when we hit a stretch of water so deep, the clear-over-gravel-color river turned to blue. The overnight train to Agra, sleeping beside dozens of Indians, young and old. The woman who rushed the train on a stop from Occha to Agra, slipping between the car and the platform, her right leg cut off just below the knee as the train pulled out of the station. Touching, for the first time, an elephant's ear, its smooth almost silky texture taking me by complete surprise. The nervousness of a rhino cooling itself with mud only a few feet away from where I stood in the back of the 4x4 ...

Next stop...who knows.