Yesterday evening it was book selling day.
I am not a man that typically sells his books: for the most part, I hold on to them. There is scarcely a book I own that I have not read more than twice (I really get my money's worth). But I suddenly realized that a whole stack of them were things that no longer had purpose in my life: some books on writing and a number of "success" oriented books, which mostly were the cheesy sorts of advice things that one reads once and is done with (trust me, all the good ones stayed).
As I was waiting for the grand accounting, I wandered up and down the aisles, sort of casually perusing the shelves. I have three four sections I always hit - Fantasy/Science Fiction, Agriculture, History, and Role Playing. The Fantasy/Science Fiction is almost never for new authors, more for the old authors that I love. Agriculture has really trimmed down to some very specific finds (I have a surprising number of books on the subject). Role Playing is really just looking for old Gamma World or D&D items (which I never buy, but always have fond memories flipping through). History is the grab bag: I often find something unexpected worth purchasing.
I found nothing tonight: partially a conscious choice (selling and buying at the same time), partly due to the fact that I really saw nothing I could not live without (well, maybe - I might go back this weekend...). But once again I was struck by the sheer number of books and authors represented there. Literally thousands of books and (probably) a couple of thousand authors represented - all marked down in price, some used having been read before, others completely new and never read at all. It make feel a little better about ending the writing project - looking at the sheer volume of authors, one wonders: Where are they now? Are they still writing? Probably some are, but just as many are not, having the "one hit wonder" equivalent of the music world and now quietly living out their existence as anything but a writer.
I am fortunate in that I have never found the enjoyment in reading electronic books that I find in actual physical books, so I have something to look forward to for years in every used book store I find. But it is a good and humbling thing to be in a used bookstore as well: when walking through one, I see physical representations of people's time and energy.
And I wonder: knowing what they know now, was it worth it?