I have been on the lookout for Imperial Blandings — an omnibus of the series on the Blandings Castle, by P.G. Wodehouse. Ever since my son ripped two pages off the book, I have had to be on the lookout to replace it. The copy I have does not belong to me, see? Unfortunately, the series seems to be somewhat of a rare find.
This afternoon I was dragged to the Crossword Bookstore — a place I sort of despise calling a bookstore for many reasons, all of which I will not list over here. Just one.
It just so happened that one their tables, which usually display books on sale, was laden with...you guessed it...works byP.G. Wodehouse. But no Imperial Blandings omnibus.
So I started going through the titles on display. Most of the books were on Jeeves series...and then I came across a grubby copy of "The Gold Bat and Other School Stories". It is a compilation of some of P. G. Wodehouse's early works. My guess is no one ever bought it and Crossword wanted to get rid of it.
With this copy in hand I began sifting through the rest of the pile. That is when I came across another copy of The Gold Bat. Let's compare and pick the better looking book, I thought to myself. As I placed the two books in front of me I noticed the lower face of the copy I had picked earlier...it had been eaten up by bugs. The bugs had gnawed into the lower edges of the book leaving gaping 'ant holes'!
I am willing to understand that some books may get infested even after taking precautions. But when a bookstore claiming to be a haven for book lovers keeps chewed up books for sale without giving them a once over, it is totally unacceptable. Even after I informed the slip of a boy of their callousness all I got was, "Fresh copy! Hey, fresh copy!" There are only two copies, both of which happen to be on the table. "Sorry Sir. No extra copies."
"I have the other copy," and walked away... ("You guys suck," is what I wanted to say.)
At the counter, after paying for the books we picked up, I once again brought the issue to their notice. "You must be more careful!"
"Yes sir. We will not let it happen, sir." Why did I even tell him that? The floor managers were out today (I have never seen these guys before — ever!) near the table where I showed the chewed up book to the staff. He probably turned a blind eye. Now I hope their clothes get moth-eaten.
Crossword Bookstores is nothing but a pseudo bookshop run on marketing gimmicks. They do not really give a damn about books unlike Strand Bookstore, which is a result of a man with a different set of principles. Crossword is only interested in making a quick buck.