You have to love this kind of place. Bibliophiles like me lust at the thought of these shops, the little bookstores peppering the bohemian enclaves that ferment along urban capillaries.
The "Forever After" bookstore on San Francisco's legendary Haight Street is, at first glance, one of the best. The books, old and esoteric in the extreme, are stacked to the ceiling, crammed between one another and sometimes piled on the floor. The aisles are narrow to where two people cannot walk abreast and the aroma of old paper is so strong that it wafts out onto the street. I was prepared to love this place.
Prepared to love it, until I, apparently in a fit of either naivete or hubris unrivaled since the early days of aviation, jotted down the name of a book.
Seeing my pocket tablet, the proprietor informed me that, and I quote, "Nobody's allowed to write in here."
"Beg your pardon?" I asked, presuming I had mis heard him. He had that kind of soft voice peculiar to people that work around books all day, that menacing library whisper that chills your subconcious with the repressed memories of thousands of repetitions of "I will return my library books on time" written neatly on triple lined paper.
"I don't let anybody write anything down in here," he said. "I don't want them writing down titles and looking for them cheaper somewhere else."
Now, it's not my place to tell another person how to run their business, no matter how foolishly I might think they are going about it, so I stowed my paper and pen and vacated the establishment without argument.
But, fucking please, what is this man thinking? I'm not allowed to commit words to paper in his store, in a book store. Apparently a number of people have had such experiences. I cannot fathom how this guy thinks this policy is doing him any good. In my case it lost him a sale. I was writing down a title so that I could either come back the next day when I had cash in hand or write to him from home and have him send it to me. Now I'm not buying shit from him.
I hadn't even written down the price. Though, since he was asking thirty-five dollars for a beaten up soft cover bible, a price I would pay only if it was autographed by the author, I've got a bible in my hotel room for Christ's sake, I can assume he was asking more than I was willing to fork over. Now I'm set on buying the book elsewhere just to spite him. I hope he ends up like Burgess Meredith in the Time Enough at Last episode of The Twilight Zone.
Of all the nonsense in the world.