The Book Scout

No job? No personal hygiene? No permanent address? No problem. Today's rare-book trade is the sort of wild treasure hunt that can transform an ordinary hobbyist into a full-time bottom feeder.

Anyway, so he's dashing up the block, and he spies this little pile of books on a card table, surrounded by T-shirts and children's clothes. He goes over and rifles through them quickly. The usual shit, a bunch of book-club fiction, a couple lousy recent best sellers, a miscellany of run-of-the-mill '50s stuff. And a fine first-edition copy of Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood in a very nice dust jacket. This was a thousand-dollar book.

There's a little sign on the table where it sits, black magic marker on cardboard, ALL BOOKS $2. So the book scout has the Wise Blood in his hands, he's going to get the book, but he says to the woman anyway, just for the hell of it, "Would you be willing to take a dollar for this book?"

Sean Smuda

And the woman, of course, says yes.

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