I wrote before about donating books to libraries for their used book sales. I followed this with a column about donating books signed by their authors, and the possible awkwardness which it might cause. Now, let me tell you when it happened to me. I published Fault Lines, a book of poems in 2012. Most of my buyers wanted me to inscribe it to them, which I did, following the policy I mentioned in the earlier post. Without my knowledge, one of my books ended up in a Friends of the Library bookstore in a nearby town. One of my friends who is a librarian there spotted it and snapped it up. He had not been around when the book first came out to buy a copy. He sent me an email, mentioning several of the poems that he especially liked. Now, every writer loves to hear that his or her work has had an effect on a reader. But I was also glad that a copy ended up in the hands of yet another friend. My only concern was this: had one of my books already been discarded by the person who bought it? After only two years? Yikes. I purposely refrained from asking my friend to tell me the name in the inscription. Truth to tell, I suspect it was a fellow writer who died last November. She lived near that library and it would be natural for her heirs, in closing up her condo, to donate her books to the closest library. If so, I’m just happy my book benefited both the Friends of the Library, even if was only to the extent of a dollar, and also gained me yet another reader. Not only was it not awkward, it was uplifting.
In another, unrelated incident, I was Googling my name and found an offprint of an article I wrote for the Huntington Library Quarterly for sale by a rare book dealer somewhere in Northeast. I live in Southern California. How the heck . . . ? I can speculate, but it’s more of a amusing mystery than anything else. I’m sure I’m not the only writer who has had such things happen.
A third minor incident occurred several years ago. I had published a short story in a small journal. I only had a couple of copies, but a friend wanted to read it, and since I saw him fairly often, I thought it was safe to lend him one of my precious copies. But, for various reasons, he never returned it. I like to keep at least two copies of everything I publish, so I was a little vexed. But, a couple of years later, I came across a copy (not mine) of the journal with my story on our local library’s “free table,” which handily replaced my missing copy. Another happy ending and another reason why I haunt the “free table,” which I keep saying I’ll talk about in another post—soon, I promise—soon.