by Jas Faulkner
The covers of the books in the window of Sam and Tab’s book store featured well-toned abs, beautified, decluttered homes, language lessons, and a few self-help titles. For a characteristically grim touch, Sam dragged out a skeleton and had it seated in one corner of the window display reading Jim Fixx’s “The Complete Book of Running”.
Being the kind of person who will spend time looking at the titles on shelves in pictures, I sent Sam’s IPhoned photo to my email to get a better look.
“What you don’t see,” she said, “is the sign next to the cash register that says we’ll give them a coupon for half off a used book if they sign a promise to not bring them in for trade during the months of February or March of 2013.”
“Any books?” I asked.
“No. Just the resolution titles. Anything to do with learning something new like, say, a language, or books about weight loss, fitness, getting organised, that sort of thing. People spend boo-coos of money on those books and then by March they want to trade them in for the latest bestseller. I feel really bad for people bringing in gift cards-”
“You have gift cards now?”
There was silence and I thought I heard Sam sigh.
“You designed them. Remember?”
“Doh! So they sold. Great! So all these people buying the latest fitness book- Is it a conscience thing?”
“Exactly. We ran a one day special where we offered five extra dollars for every ten spent on a gift card. Not everybody can afford to pop in here and drop twenty-five to thirty dollars for a new book, especially not everyone around here. We spread the word for about a week and we sold a lot of cards to people who usually come in here and peruse the dollar and under rough rack.
“I know…I know…Why carry them in the first place? Some people really want them. Others? A couple of years ago, I noticed people looking wistfully at titles by Bailey White and Larry McMurtry and yet they were holding the latest diet book that usually costs more than the books they’d actually read and enjoy. I decided then to make it a little harder to get those books -and- Tab’s ex is a phys ed teacher and is working on her masters in nutrition and well-being education at Ole Miss. We give her and her partner free weekends at the B&B to come here and teach nutrition and exercise classes.”
“That’s… I’m so impressed. Proud of y’all, really. That’s-”
“Really bad business.” Even on my skippy Skype signal, I could see Sam’s eyeroll. ”You know something? The lights are still on, we’ve never missed a meal due to anything except the occasional rush of customers, and somehow we manage to make a little money and stay in business. Also, we don’t need anything. Whatever it is, we already have it.”
“So did you make any resolutions?”
Sam cleared her throat . I thought she was going to say she didn’t make resolutions. (She never did when we were in college.)
“Yeah. Just one. I am going to try to finish something by Jane Austen.”
“Knowing how you feel about her, I’d say that’s brave.”
“I said TRY.” she countered. “Resolutions are fragile things, easily broken by the temptation of good banana pudding or bad prose.”