Waxing Literary: The books and the bees (links)

Welcome to Waxing Literary, where we’re too lazy… er, I mean, erudite and busy reading Proust, to think of a funnier bee-related title pun.

My name is Kat, and I’ll be here each week with book-centric news from around the city – everything from bookstore profiles to author events to the occasional review.

Can all of you read? Are you ready to enter the secret Hive-Lair of the Literati?

Good, then let’s get started!

Before we can spend all our waking hours talking about books, it is first necessary to procure some. But, as a quick tour around Barnes & Noble will undoubtedly reveal, there’s one problem: they’re effin’ expensive. So in order to keep your shelves stocked with important works of literature (or to avoid shelling out $7.95 for the latest paperback featuring a cat that solves mysteries ), I’m dedicating this week’s column to ways of Being Bookish On A Budget, special to NYC.

First: Visit the Strand.

The flags that adorn The Strand’s outer façade scream, “18 MILES OF BOOKS!” I have yet to figure out what this means, exactly (did someone lay them all end-to-end and count the distance? Is it like that “Your intestines are over 2 miles long” thing?) but there’s no better place to spend an afternoon picking up a load of literature at a low price. The store on Broadway at 12th Street has piles of current bestsellers, always at a discount and often for up to 50% off the cover price, but the real bargains are just outside the store on their $1 shelves. Sure, you have to shove aside thronging NYU kids and pick through a lot of weight loss memoirs… but when you lay your hand on a dog-eared Vonnegut novel for a buck, it’s worth it.

Second: Keep your mind in the gutter.

Last week, I ran across the street to buy dog food and came back with a pristine copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club – courtesy of the free curbside bookstore.

Okay, okay, the garbage.

Before you start screaming, “But you don’t know where it’s been !”, note that I’m not telling you to wantonly dig through your neighbors’ trash (after all, we are Readers, not Identity Thieves). But the fact is, New York’s curbs can be a treasure trove of discarded books – particularly on moving day, when people realize just how heavy a year’s worth of reading group picks really is. Just be sure to flip through the pages of things found on the street before taking – y’know, to make sure you’re not bringing home a silverfish infestation or a human finger.

Finally: Make friends with a publishing employee.

New York is the publishing capital of the world. Hence, the city is rife with publishing employees. And as a former book publicist, I can tell y’all that there’s just one great perk to working in the industry… and it sure as hell isn’t the pay. People who work in publishing have access to a ton of books; at my old office, there were “take shelves” of free titles all over the building, everything from cheesy crime fiction to repackaged classics. So cozy up to that editorial assistant friend of yours, and the next time she moans about working late for slave-wages, offer to pick up her bar tab if she’ll hook you up with free reading material.

One comment

  1. Pam says:

    Here’s another I discovered during a blissful summer of doing jack shit before I started my first (hellish) job – in the summer, Bryant Park is fully stocked with a fairly random assortment of book in little moveable bookshelves. Just pick one out (I remember reading O Pioneers!), grab a seat and commune with wildlife (i.e. Pigeons). Also, it’s really close to the big building full of books.

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