Actual conversations with rude or odd customers at a used book store

The Book Mine is a used book store in Fair Oaks, CA (Northeast of Sacramento) has a web page with snippets of funny conversations with customers who are obnoxious, rude, or weird.

Do people donate all these books to you?

Yes. We show up for work every morning and there are boxes of valuable books sitting at the front door.

Wow, really! I could open a book store?


If I opened a store, how would people know where to leave the books?


(phone call)

You buy books?

Every day

I've got something you're really going to want

Lay it on me

It's a set of Tom Sawyer

Really! Who wrote it?

I just said, Tom Sawyer

He was quite a guy. Who published it?

Beats me!

Could you look? I'm mildly curious

Wait a minute

(a couple of minutes of my life go by that I will never see again)

You still there?


Gosit and Dunlop

It's a reprint set and a non-starter for me. Gotta go. Thanks!


Older guy comes in...

I'm here for an appraisal.

I charge for appraisals.

No, I don't want to pay for nothing.

What do you have?

A book I wrote. It's about gambling.

Has it been published?

No, that's why I need a (sic) appraisal.

I only deal in old books.

Hey, gambling is old. It's been around a long time.

I don't think I can help you.

Yea I know, you're really wasting my time.


(grown-up, looks around)

Do you have any real books?

Read the rest

Object Lessons: short, thrilling books and essays about everyday objects


The Object Lessons project, edited by game theory legend Ian Bogost and cultural studies academic Christopher Schaberg, commissions short essays and small, beautiful books about everyday objects from shipping containers to toast. Read the rest

Book says Daddy Koch built Nazi oil refinery & hired a Nazi nanny for his boys, who blackmailed their gay brother


New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer has a new book coming out, Dark Money, which chronicles the influence of a small handful of ultra-rich dynastic American families on US politics. Read the rest

Coming Out Like a Porn Star: collected memoirs of sex workers


Coming Out Like a Porn Star is genderqueer porn star Jiz Lee's new anthology collecting the personal stories of porn stars and other sex-trade workers, in which they describe "coming out" to their friends and family as workers in the trade. Read the rest

Keep your scythe, the real green future is high-tech, democratic, and radical

"Radical ecology" has come to mean a kind of left-wing back-to-the-landism that throws off consumer culture and mass production for a pastoral low-tech lifestyle. But as the brilliant science journalist and Marxist Leigh Phillips writes in Austerity Ecology & the Collapse-Porn Addicts: A Defence Of Growth, Progress, Industry And Stuff, if the left has a future, it has to reclaim its Promethean commitment to elevating every human being to a condition of luxurious, material abundance and leisure through technological progress.

Chelsea Manning reviews book of Aaron Swartz's writing


Today is the third anniversary of Aaron Swartz's death, and it was marked by the publication of an anthology of Aaron's writing, The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz with an introduction by Lawrence Lessig (I wrote an introduction to one of the sections). Read the rest

Gene Luen Yang's inaugural speech as National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

Gene Luen Yang burst on the graphic novel scene in 2006 with the Eisner-award winning American Born Chinese, a brilliant memoir about growing up as an Asian American; and followed up with a diverse oeuvre that spanned video games, Asian representation in superhero comics, and digital literacy.

Enough Astronaut Blood to Last the Winter – A New York artist's travelogue


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Enough Astronaut Blood to Last the Winter is a beautiful travelogue of stasis with three covers to choose from. It’s a seemingly disconnected series of images, photographs, and prose-poems that serve as a diary of artist Derek Van Gieson’s New York City experience. Collected in this manner by Fantagraphics Underground, though, they convey a story thick with the weight of being trapped in the expanse of a moment. Here, there is a visceral sense of confinement, and, through Van Gieson’s art, there is both acceptance of the walls and a longing for change.

While not a graphic novel in the traditional sense, Enough Astronaut Blood to Last the Winter is still narrative. The reader understands mood more than movement, but even in this there is still a beginning, middle, and end. So many of Van Gieson’s inky portraits have a surreal sense of disconnect, as much as they convey discontent. His subjects mostly look away, askance, from the viewer, or have their eyes covered completely by hair or by shadow. Many of the photographs are of his subjects caught in the midst of liminal moments, between this and that, indecisive and unsure of how to proceed. And his prose-poems further the sense of unbecoming that suffuses the book as a whole. They are often grounded in the experience of the day-to-day, yet twist out into hypnagogic landscapes and scenarios, as if the “now” only leads to the impossible and the reality of the minute is unfathomable as it stands. Read the rest

The Entrepreneurial State: how the "free market" stalls without government-funded innovation

Mariana Mazzucato's The Entrepreneurial State uses empirical research to demolish the capitalist orthodoxy that holds the state to be a feckless, harmful distorter of markets.

Zoomable view of ex-Apple designer Bret Victor's bookshelf


Here's one of my bad habits: when I go to someone's house, I head straight to their bookshelf. I'm not trying to judge the person based on the kinds of books (or lack of books) they own. I do end up judging them, but that's a side effect. I'm just curious about books! I loved looking at this high res photo of designer and all-around interesting person Bret Victor's bookshelf. I want them all! Read the rest

Morgan Parker's "Other People's Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night"


The title grabbed me in such a way, I had to buy Morgan Parker's Other People's Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night without reading a single line. I tore through about half the poems, before realizing I was exhausted and emotionally drained.

Parker is an accomplished poet, publisher and creative writing instructor. She builds vivid pictures, and transmits such strong feelings, in so few words, I am thrilled! Parker shares a vivid portrait of life in America, pulling no punches and guided by an unerring moral compass. This collection of poems observes life, from how we use social media to outright discrimination, with an immediacy and power I've rarely found in modern American poetry.

Here one of my favorites (via Pank Magazine):

If My Housemate Fucks With Me I Would Get So Real (Audition Tape Take 1)

I didn’t come here to make friends. Buildings spit their stomachs at me and I spit back, down the sidewalk into a bitch’s hair. I am a forehead careening in clouds, a dirty tree branch brushing against the shingles of the production room. I am groundbreaking: two as one. Brooding tattooed over my art. Otherwise, black. Can do angry, can’t do accents. I need little coaching, provocation. Opinionated and Everything a man wants. Lips and boobs camera-ready. If I hear you’re talking shit about me in your confessional interview, please know seven birds have fallen dead at my feet right out of the sky. I learned this right hook here when I was only six.

Read the rest

Weapons of Math Destruction: how Big Data threatens democracy


I was hugely impressed with Cathy "Mathbabe" O'Neil's talk at Personal Democracy Forum 2015, "Weapons of Math Destruction," in which she laid out the way that the "opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable" conclusions of Big Data threaten fairness and democracy.

Read the rest

Penguin Books ditches vanity press


The Financial Times' Henry Mance reports that the world’s largest publisher has withdrawn from the self-publishing business, likely having lost much of its $116m investment in the field.

Penguin Random House said on Tuesday that it had sold Author Solutions, which allowed writers direct access to publishing tools, to an unnamed affiliate of US private equity firm, Najafi Companies. …

Author Solutions says it has worked with “more than 200,000 authors, helping them publish more than 250,000 titles” — suggesting that few customers use its services more than once. Its best-selling books to date include Andrea Perron’s ebook House of Darkness House of Light and Don Failla’s print title The 45 Second Presentation That Will Change Your Life.

Amazing. Author Solutions always appeared to be little more than an old-timey vanity press dressed up in the digital revolution's clothing. It was accused of bilking authors for worthless "services" while providing only rudimentary access to the genuine marketplace for e-books.

That it got sued up to the eyeballs by annoyed customers is only to be expected. That it also took in the world's largest publisher, under the pretense it could help it compete with Amazon? Now, that is a story worth reading. Read the rest

Channeling my @aaronsw: from the collected writings of Aaron Swartz


This week, the New Press publishes The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz , a collection of the writings of our late, lamented friend. The collection is introduced by Lawrence Lessig, and I wrote the introduction to Aaron's media writings, which you'll find below. Read the rest

London: the urban explorer/jewel thief's guide


In April, Geoff "BLDGBLOG" Manaugh will publish A Burglar's Guide to the City, a new book about London's rich history of heists and the network of tunnels, catacombs, sewers, and caves that London such a paradise for would-be superthieves. Read the rest

Hong Kong's dissident publishing workers are disappearing, possibly kidnapped to mainland


Five employees of the publisher Mighty Current and its retail arm, Causeway Bay Bookstore, have disappeared from Hong Kong, and pro-democracy leaders say that they were kidnapped to the mainland by PRC security forces in retaliation for publishing books critical of the Chinese government. Read the rest

Anne Frank's diary is in the public domain; editors aren't co-authors


Anne Frank's father, Otto, edited Frank's diary before publishing it. He also endowed two foundations -- one Swiss, one Dutch -- to administer her legacy. Read the rest

More posts