Category Archives: Bookstore Life

Video Contest and a Reward for People who Support Independent Authors

VIDEO CONTEST

Please help judge these videos!

Eight creative geniuses created videos about Classics Books. They are competing for prizes. Please check them out at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQEC6b-tb4KIB6VEXeSbCkw under the CONTEST playlist and “like” the ones you like. The video with the most likes (on the Classics channel) wins prizes!

INDEPENDENT AUTHORS

Help Classics support local authors!  Buy 4 books by Classics authors from Classics in 2017 and get a $20 gift certificate for used and rare books at Classics!  Reply to this email for a complete list.

Classics support of independent writers

Classics does several things to support independent writers that other bookstores do not.

During scheduled book signings,

  • independent authors keep 100% of their revenue.  Classics does not take a commission.
  • Classics invites local vloggers to capture interviews on video.

Classics authors promote that their books are on consignment at Classics and support one another.

In return, Classics

  • promotes Classics authors on social media and links to their website.
  • offers rewards for customers who purchase from independent authors. Buy 4 books by Classics authors from Classics in a given year and get a $20 gift certificate for used and rare books at Classics.
  • hosts a local authors book club, where the club chooses local authors to read and discuss.

Classics News

Barbara Keogh, reigning Scrabble Champion and artist, became a US citizen Friday May 29!

Though we give free books to kids all the time, we recently gave an inordinately large number of books (18 boxes) to the DYFS visitation room for kids to take home.

The First Capital City Book Fair, run by Jon Gordon and Iana Dikidjieva, was a great success–70 vendors (authors, bookstores and small publishers) and two full days of events, including Pultizer Prize winners Yusef Komunyakaa and Chris Hedges.

The Times of Trenton wrote up a nice article about us.  You can read it here:

Book Stalagmite


10 Years in Trenton

In 2005, Classics Books came to Trenton, successfully recruited by the Trenton Downtown Association (TDA), when part of its mission was to recruit retail businesses.  Matt Bergheiser, then Executive Director of the TDA, led a burst of growth on South Warren.  In this time period, empty dirt lots and gutted buildings were turned into buildings that now house delis and the AT&T store and a yoga studio.  The Zagat’s rated Italian restaurant Settimo Cielo came to Front Street.  And Classics Books came to town.

Classics started as part of a TDA co-op on South Warren, expanded to take over the entire space and eventually moved to its current location, across from the hotel, at 4 West Lafayette.

In those ten years, Classics has dealt in metric tons of books–cookbooks, poetry, fiction, history, science, classic literature, art, science fiction, kids books.  It sold top-of-the-line first editions like The Cat in the Hat and leather bound Shaker histories.  It has hosted book clubs, and Peoples and Stories, and poetry open mics.  They supported authors–from neighborhood Shakespeares to Pultizer Prize winning Yusef Komunyakaa.  They printed the Trenton Review, hosted booksignings and sponsored the 2008 Trenton Book Fair.

In those ten years, they played Scrabble on 520 Friday nights–each night until midnight in the heart of Trenton.  They played Cards against Humanity, the Name Game and Civilization.  They knitted, and origamied, and discussed urban development.  They hosted the filming of music videos, mayoral hopeful meet and greets, jazz bands, rock bands and belly dancers.

In those ten years, they distributed over 25,000 books to Trenton kids free of charge, through the Books at Home program, because having books in your home has a dramatic effect on how long kids stay in school and how well they do.

In those ten years, people made good friends, found jobs, found publishers, supported local businesses, built a life, built a community.

Classics in ten years old in April.  To celebrate, one party didn’t seem like enough.

  • April 4 from 2 pm to 6 pm, poet Todd Evans, host of the Capital City Open Mic, will host a poetry marathon with poets and musicians from all over Mercer County featuring poets Janelle T. Harvey and Jay Knives.  FREE event.  50% off all poetry books.
  • April 10 from 6 pm to midnight, the Trenton Scrabble Club will have a Scrabble party with prizes for every winner.  All skill levels are welcome.  FREE event.  50% off all used and rare books.
  • April 11 from 12 noon to 2 pm, the Trenton Knit and Stitch will toast community and creativity.  FREE event.  50% off all craft books.
  • April 18 from 12 noon to 4 pm, the Trenton Party Games Coalition will break out Cards Against Humanity, Trivial Pursuit, Headbandz and the Name Game.  FREE event.  50% off all used board games.
  • May 1 and 2, the Capital City Book Fair will line the streets with up to 100 authors and bookstores from Classics Books on one end to Mill Hill Park on the other.  For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Capital-City-Book-Fair/450123515140208.

Happy 10th Birthday Classics!


Bookstore People: From the Night Kitchen

Bruce Bentzmann is a man of letters, in several sense of the word. His dream is to own a used bookstore where he doesn’t have to worry about the rent. He writes poetry, short stories and hand written letters to a number of friends. He writes essays for SnakeSkin Poetry which he has collected into a book called Selected Suburban Soliloquies (available at Classics).

Contrary to Classics orthodoxy, and the hard-charging bingoing of his wife Barbara Keogh, Bruce cannot stand playing Scrabble. His argument is that Scrabble is a game that disrespects words. He is bothered that a real working vocabulary isn’t as important as memorizing the list of words that are so esoteric that they are almost only used in on the Scrabble board—“qat,” “za,” “ourie.”

When you visit Classics you will find Bruce behind the counter, talking about anything that crosses his mind–from the latest book he is reading to fountain pens to fortune cookies.

 

Bruce Bentzmann


Life in a Bookstore–December 2014

Leah Alabrè found a $20 bill inside a $6 Charles Dickens book at Classics Books last Saturday, making it undoubtedly the best value for your money. My theory? Some book-loving Willie Wonka is planting $20 golden tickets in various books at Classics for you to find.

Poet and activist Caitlin Fair is spearheading Books and Breakfast at Classics once a month, where free food and books are provided for all community members who would like to feed their mind and their stomach!

Barbara Keogh won the shortest game of Scrabble ever played at Classics. She played one word, for 100 points, and everybody else quit the game. The word? “quitted”


The Cat in the Hat in the Box in the Bookstore

When I first opened the bookstore, I was adamant that it was going to be a store for readers, not collectors. I was not going to sell first editions; I was going to sell books for people who liked to read, I was a man of the people not a curator, blah blah blah. Then somebody brought in a first edition of War of the Worlds and, feeling that piece of history in my hands, it took me about 30 seconds to throw out my rule and carry some collectable books.

One busy Saturday, I had a line at the register and a woman came in with a box of books to donate to the store. I invited her to wait a moment and I would let her know how much credit I could give her, but she said not to worry about it—she had just tried to sell these books at a garage sale and she just wanted to get rid of them. On the side of the box read “Old Kids Books $1 Each.”

About a week later, one of the New Hope floods came and I had to pack up every book in the story. Martines (a restaurant across the street) let me pile up books on her tables (I would eat at a restaurant like that!), friends and customers loaded up their vans and cars and we emptied the store.

We already had a second store in Trenton, and we decided to close up the New Hope store and deliver all the books to Trenton. We still hadn’t opened that box of kids’ books.

It took us months to settle in to the Trenton store, unpacking, sorting and shelving all the books from New Hope. It was maybe six months later I opened the box of books.

It included a first edition early Maurice Sendak A Hole is the Dig ($150) and a first edition Tasha Tudor ($800). But the mind blowing book was a first edition (200/200 on the price tab of the flap) of The Cat in the Hat. It was in perfect condition, no single mark or scuff, no price clip. It looked unread. List price? $7,000. (We eventually sold it wholesale to another bookstore for about $2,000).

What an amazing collection of books, which had sat unwanted in a box at a garage sale for $1.

There is something essentially human about used books.  Life may leave us a little battered and worn, but we still have the capacity to inspire, to teach, to entertain, to love and be loved.

And no matter how unwanted we may feel at times, how neglected and overlooked, all it takes is the right person to open our covers and recognize us for the treasure we are.

Seuss-cat-hat[1]


Fast Times and Good Finds

A guy comes into the bookstore and asks, “Do you have a paperback copy of Fast Times at Ridgemont High?”  I can’t remember ever having seen it, but we root around for a bit but can’t find it.

I thought that was weird since that movie came out 30 years ago, but whatever.

Two hours later, another guy comes in and asks for a Fast Times at Ridgemont High. And then another guy. And the next day a woman. I thought, “This is what going crazy feels like.”

The mystery was solved when we found turns out some Antiques Roadshow program mentioned that the paperback Fast Times at Ridgemont High was worth maybe $200 and bookstores often price is at $1 because it’s only a movie-tie in paperback.

You never know which book in the stacks has the golden ticket. Bookstores can’t be experts in every genre, so there’s always something that they missed.

I had a customer who grabbed a hardback Elizabeth Bowen off my shelves for $6 that turned out to be a first edition worth hundreds. After she bought the book, she gloated a bit—she knew what she had and that I had missed it.

The Bowen collector became a regular customer and a good friend. I like to think it was just the bookstore’s great selection of books and community involvement. But, at least part of it was the chance that she would find another overlooked first edition.

Fast Times


Bookstore People: Whispers and Words

Whisper is the author of the book of poetry “I Have Arrived.” When you see her at Classics, it will be the first Saturday of the month and she will be reading her poetry in the back of the store at the Capital City Open Mic.

Whisper once said, “Poetry saved my life!! It rescued me from off of that ledge! One more ounce of negative energy and I would have jumped.”

Photo: U betta werk!

Barbara is a Scrabble players’ Scrabble player. She plays on Friday nights and some Saturdays in Trenton at Classics Books, Tuesdays in Princeton and through FaceBook. A two-time Classics Tournament champion, Barbara is tough to play—but fun. She never gloats (well, almost never) and is pleasant to play if you are good or a beginner.

She is also an accomplished artist, turning parts of the bookstore into a gallery of her photos and paintings.

When you see her at Classics, she could be anywhere–at a Scrabble board, hanging her artwork or ringing up customers during the week.

Barbara’s most common quote?  “Bingo!”

Photo by Bruce Bentzman


Thank Yous from Classics Books

Thank you to Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson for your continued supportof the Books at Home Program.

Thank you to mayoral candidate  Walker M Worthy Jr. and Lisa Willever for donating five boxes of brand new kids books to the Trenton Books at Home Program, which provides free books to Trenton kids.

Thanks to the Westminster Community Life Center for their donation of $100 in store credit to the Trenton Books at Home Program.

Thank you Kelli Mitchell, Carver Community Center and Planned Parenthood for distributing books to Trenton kids in the past month.

Thank you to Todd Evans, Megan Iurilli, Barbara Keogh and Najah Mausi for hosting the monthly Capital City Open Mic, Board Games Club, Scrabble Saturdays and Trenton Knit and Stitch, respectively.


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