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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover

The clerk casually flipped through the copy of Middlemarch I found on his shelf and placed on the counter. "Too bad there's so much writing in it. I hate when people write in books," he condescended.

Obviously not a reader, I thought. And had an idea.

He acknowledged they bought books and took them as credit on trade-ins. I ran out to the car and brought in the copy of Middlemarch I had stashed away for the long ride to and from town. As he flipped through it he wondered why in the world I would prefer reading his older, heavily notated version to the pristine edition with the elegant cover I'd plunked down on the counter.

"Uh, Norton Critical Editions include a lot of background information. It helps me understand the story better. The notes don't really bother me, they're actually sort of interesting."

He shrugged his shoulders, gave me a $5.00 credit and charged an additional $2.00. He was happy to have a nice, pretty new book to put on his shelf and I was happy to have a battered, heavily notated copy, possibly once owned by someone who had completed their doctorate on the novel, by a reputable publisher, that did not contain so many typos reading became a chore equivalent to deciphering some secret code.

We both thought we had made the better bargain.

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