Tuesday, May 1, 2012

At Last

So we just did our annual store inventory. Ever so much better now that we do it ourselves rather than hire one of those undead counting crews. Now there's no one yelling "sku check!" all night long, no one who will count books as bubblegum, or assume that all Penguins are basically the same penguin, no one to look for a price-tag on my stapler. No. Now we're all automated and up to date; with counting machines of our own, generating our own reports, auditing our own counts, making our own, occasional mistakes and then being able to actually fix them! This is our third year, and it's still a revelation to me.

AND they unlock the soda machine all night, did I mention that? We have a nicely catered meal, and they unlock the soda machine. For some reason, reaching into that machine feels good. I won't lie, it feels a little criminal, or at the very least, hooligan. Makes the third free Diet Pepsi every bit as satisfying as the first, let me tell you.

Even after a nice turkey-wrap, crudites and cookie-platters, even after the third free soda pop, inventory, it must be said, is not really much fun. It's not hard work, but it is tedious. It takes less time now, because we do it ourselves, yes, but also because frankly there are fewer books to count. That is not a happy fact, any other time.

Getting ready for inventory, that's the truly unpleasant part, for me at least. Unsold used books get "clearanced" in ungodly numbers -- to reduce the inventory before inventory -- buying slows to nearly nothing and then nothing, all the purchased use books need to be tagged and shelved before some always barely remembered cut-off, etc. Not fun. Depressing, in fact.

This year, my long delayed review finally happened just before inventory. (I am loved, but things are bad all over, as they say.)

In short then, the Fates conspired in such a way this time as to make it almost a duty to do something that might make with a little uplift after. I figured, maybe I'll buy the new Tuchman volume in The Library of America before the summer employee shopping days when our discount goes up. Why wait? It's published, it was in my cubby awaiting the day that extra ten percent makes books cost me roughly what they cost the bookstore after shipping and such.

So, I did that.

Then, what happens? I'll tell you. This happens. After two Christmases coming and going without Santa Claus bringing poor not so little anymore Usedbuyer2.0 what he asked for nicely, what should finally show up but the next set of the Nonesuch Dickens! What?! That's right!

I know how exciting such news must be. Me? I was beside myself. Two years -- more -- I've been waiting for these Schlemiels from Overlook -- a blessing on their thick heads -- to finally deliver on the promised three volume set of The Pickwick Papers, The Old Curiosity Shop, and Our Mutual Friend. Twice this was sold to the bookstore and twice I reserved it for my Christmas present for me from Santa, aka my own beloved husband, A. The release was then put off, and off and then off again as the US publisher promised, sold, delayed, and then abandoned one date after another.

Were the books being hand-stitched by underpaid, blind Romanian nuns?! Who knows.

I've raved about these books before. They reproduce the most attractive, definitive edition of the novels published in the last century: well-made, beautifully printed, handsomely bound, with great, faithful and full versions of the original illustrations. These books are a joy to hold, a pleasure to look at and a perfect copies to read.

I reread Our Mutual Friend some time back, hoping to read it in this Nonesuch edition, but finally reading it in just my squat ol' Oxford Ill. 'cause the Nonesuch was a no show. Then the next year and I was going to reread The Old Curiosity Shop and the same damned thing happened again and no Nonesuch. (That I ended up buying a lovely, cheap old copy with marvelous illustrations I'd never seen before, so that's alright.)

Now finally, all three new Nonesuch volumes are here. Inventory was over. What was I supposed to do? Wait? Just because it wasn't Christmas and my personal Santa was planning to use his tax refund to fix the chimney, just because I couldn't afford them and hadn't an inch left to add onto my store-charge debt, just because my other plastic has yet to recover from last Christmas, etc., etc., etc.? What am I, a saint? Some kind of ascetic? Do you know me at all?!

So, I bought the set. I have them here now, home on the floor, where I've been wallowing for the last two hours.

What inventory? Who remembers.

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