Sunday, October 22, 2006

from the series "Poetry Economics: A Moronic Oxymoron"

For the past 3 days, Mom and I have gone to our local St. Helena Library to attend to their booksales:

First day pricing: 50 cents per paperback and $1 per hardback

Second day pricing: 3 paperbacks for a dollar and $1 per hardback

Though I purchased books on the first day of the library sale, I didn't see until the second day a compelling reason to purchase a poetry book: Vikram Seth's THE GOLDEN GATE. So, that's 34 cents (rounded up) for Seth's poem-novel that's been on my To-Read-List ever since it was published in 1986 (20 years ago!). Go Library Book Sale! Then:

Third Day pricing: buy a large paper grocery bag for $3.00 and fill it up with as many books as you can fit into it.

Mom and I sprung for one bag and we filled it with 23 books, to wit:

1 self-help book (Mom's)
7 novels
9 children's books
3 cookbooks
1 biography
2 poetry collections (and I confess I did this partly from the charge of providing a haven for any poetry book)

The poetry collections were Charles Tomlinson's SKYWRITING AND OTHER POEMS and Joan Murray's LOOKING FOR THE PARADE. Both are award-winning collections -- Tomlinson of The New Criterion Poetry Prize and Murray of a National Poetry Series prize (that they end up at an outlet for drastically reduced sales is one more reason to laugh at the valorization of prize competitions for purpose of achieving poetic cultural capital...but that's another story, of course).

The poetry collections also were brand new hardbacks -- they came with press releases AND author photos which implies that they may have been used initially as review copies that subsequently were recyled, in this case into library donations (another reason why I was telling one of moi publishers recently that I think it's silly to do unfocused mass mailings of poetry review copies).

And by dividing $3 into 23 books, that means that I bought Tomlinson and Murray for 13 cents per book -- not that we sneer, do we, considering how many poets have to trade or comp away their books just to get some semblance of distribution going (wink.).

And that, dear Peeps, is this weekend's poetry financial report du jour. God bless and Good night.