Three Weeks Before the Opening of Swan’s Fine Books


It’s dark outside, the wind is howling, the oncoming headlights are blinding. I feel like a character out of Mad Max or Blade Runner. I’m wrestling my big rig (all right, it’s really only a 10-foot U-Haul, but to me it FEELS like a big rig) and trying not to think about the one ton (literally) of books I’m hauling from Seattle to San Francisco.

Once again, I wonder – how did I end up here?

It all seemed so innocuous in the beginning. One book for sale on E-Bay (which no one in the book world REALLY takes seriously) and my boyfriend/business advisor, whom you met last week, put in a low bid. We won the book and immediately felt guilty about it (capitalist pigs that we are). How could we possibly buy a book worth so much for so little? We waited to see what the merchant would do…and another book was posted. Once again, we put in a low bid. Once again… can see where this is going. We called the merchant. What a NICE man. Yes, he’s been collecting for years. Yes, it’s time to downsize. It breaks his heart (I’m now sobbing in the background, I FEEL his pain).

[Also: Opening Soon Swan’s Fine Books]

We talk, I fly up to Seattle to view his library, and make an offer on the lot. He accepts, we break open the champagne. The easy part is over – which brings me back to Mad Max.

OK, I exaggerate. But I did have the character-building experience of flying back up to Seattle on Tuesday, loading 50 boxes of books (remember, one ton?) onto the 10-foot U-Haul, and making the drive back down to San Francisco, arriving back home 11:30 at night on Wednesday. All in 2 days, round-trip. Both exhilarated and exhausted.

In the week since my last post, in addition to playing Big Mama, the store has been painted and walls have magically moved. The bookcases for Swan’s Fine Books arrive on Monday (43 of them, if memory serves). SHELVING IS ABOUT TO COMMENCE. My head swirls with ideas for categories. Horse- racing….hmmm…..Animals or Sports? Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant….Biography, Military, or U.S. History? Merge Faith and Philosophy? Dare I have one section for all the Performing Arts, or must I keep the dancers separate from the film stars? And those lovely, lovely Dores….Art? Poetry? Literature?

This too shall pass, I realize. I’m only one week into the world of the self-employed, and am finding, with the help of my boyfriend and the many WONDERFUL mentors I’ve met (of whom I will speak more next week), that the old truism really is true: every challenge is an opportunity. The shelving will get done. The signs will look great. The credit card terminal will arrive on time. And it will work. Hopefully.

I’m finding reserves within myself that I never dreamed existed, and along the way am meeting so many

new friends that are already serving as inspirations. And amongst all of this, I get to work, every day, with BOOKS.

Life at Swan’s Fine Books truly is good. 10-4, Big Mama signing off.