I visited one of my favorite spots today. And in the future will be interviewing the owners and writing up a profile of this wonderful bookshop, but for now, I wanted to share the delicious experience of meandering, chatting, discovering and luxuriating in the midst of books books books.
Located on the main street historical Bordentown, NJ, where Thomas Paine and other U. S. founding people were known to inhabit, The Old Book Shop offers warm friendly owners, cozy corner chairs, unexplored boxes filled to the brim with who knows what gems, and jam packed shelves with an eclectic feel. There is something for everyone’s pocketbook. Yes, there are a few first edition illustrated Arthur Rackhams and John R. Neil Wizard of Ozs, but within the racks are $4.00 dust jacketed book club Ellery Queens, entire set of the children’s Bookhouse series for $25.00, and Tom Harmon and the Great Gridiron Plot also a steep $4.00, the latter we purchased.
As soon as you enter, the fragrance of aged paper wafts your way, and a fine calm rides over you. I immediately turned to the nicer illustrated children’s books, hoping for something I couldn’t live without, but was within my paltry budget. A book I’d been pining for was still there, I’d passed it up time and again. The price seemed lower than last I looked, probably my imagination, but still outside the realm of possible purchase.
And here’s where the savvy and super bookman comes through. I’m mooning over the title, a oversized gilt and fabric covered gorgeously illustrated book of French nursery songs, babbling how I can’t afford it, and he asks what the penciled in price is. I tell him, and he says, “oh, it’s been around for awhile, could you afford it if it was half the price?” Naturally I can’t do math in my head, even simple numbers when it comes to my desire for a book, but my husband saves the day by coming up with it, and I’m thrilled, for now I’m going to finally possess this particular jewel for my small collection. Naturally, that doesn’t stop either my husband or myself from delving into boxes and genres, perusing and calculating what book is most desirable or affordable or both.
My husband finds the Tom Harmon football book and muses half jokingly that it must be the actor and former player, Mark Harmon’s father. The bookman twirls to his laptop, brings up the info, and yes, indeedy, it is! Book sold. I unearth an Ellery Queen I’m not sure I’ve read, but know I own, however the dust jacket is not the same. I peruse the plot, decide it’s worth risking the next $4.00. Oh, yes.
The bookshop is small, but never cramped. There’s ample space between the few shelves for multiple people to browse. The extensive section on the history of New Jersey provides another must buy–New Jersey Trivia–$3.00. By this time several other patrons have entered, two women are pouring over the matted prints up front, a gentleman has some volumes he wants to sell, another man discusses his collection of swords–to be specific, Scottish swords. There is a small room off the main one that contains rows and rows of children’s books, One side is full of antique and older titles at fantastic prices. I’ve found many a neat volume in there. The rest of the room has more recent used children’s titles perfect for the family strapped for cash.
Our final glances and time to total our stash. My French nursery rhymes, Tom Harmon, Ellery Queen, N. J. Trivia, and a last minute discovery–Did She Fall by the author of Topper, Thorne Smith, in dust jacket. A reprint yes, a bookclub edition, yes, pure delight, yes.
As we are ready to gather our bag and traverse the frozen snow to the car, when one of the owners glances through the large front windows and remarks, “there goes General Washington. He seems to be running around in shorts.” My husband and I stare at the owners, who are blandly waiting for a man to enter the store, sure enough, in jogging shorts. No tri-cornered hat was in evidence, however. The explanation is forthcoming, and makes perfect sense. At a town celebration of Thomas Paine, the shorts man played General Washington and gave a presentation at the book shop. With that knowledge in hand, we exchange info for my interview of the booksellers at a later date, and bid farewell.
I defy a brimming kindle to equal the delirious endorphins a two hour visit to The Old Book Shop produces for readers and collectors like myself.