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.