I Guess It Wasn’t About the Bike After All!

Some titles of books come into Classics are meant to be funny (Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.   Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons by Bill Waterson.  If the Gods Had Intended Us To Vote, They Would Have Given Us Candidates by Jim Hightower).

Other titles of books are funny accidentally.  (How to Start Your Own Blood Bank.  Sun-Beams May Be Extracted from Cucumbers, But the Process Is TediousAll About Scabs.)   (For more odd books, go to http://www.classicsusedbooks.com/?p=356)

But these three books belong to a strange subclass in which the book titles were NOT funny when they first published, but because ironically funny later on.


Book:    The Trust Committed to Me by Mark Sandford

Who:     Former Congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina just was elected to House of Representatives overcoming a sex scandal that involved a woman from Argentina, the Appalachian Trail and misuse of taxpayer money.   He also committed to never seek more than three terms in the House of Representatives.  This re-election will be his fourth term.

After writing the book, Sandford proceeded to violate the trust committed to him by his wife, his supporters and the people of South Carolina.


Book:    It’s Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong

Who:  After hearing from Armstrong about his use of dope to win a decade’s worth of bike races, I guess we know what it WAS about!


Book: Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story

Who: Jerry Sandusky, the assistant Penn State football coach, had this autobiography published about his charity work.  The title became unfortunate after a scandal involving his being charged with sexual abuse.  (Thanks to James Sims for pointing out this book!)




June 8th: Trenton Books at Home Fundraiser

with Narubi Seelah, Wenonah Brooks, Esther DeCew, Daniel Robinson, Annabelle Quezada, La Shea Delaney

Hosted by Darren Freedom Green.

Saturday, June 8. 12 to 6 pm.

Support the Trenton Books at Home Program, which provides FREE books for Trenton kids.

Performing will be

  • 12 noon: jazz diva Wenonah Brooks
  • 2 pm: HBO Def Poet Narubi Seelah
  • 3 pm: world-class origami whiz Daniel Robinson
  • 5 pm: performers Annabelle Quezada and La Shea Delaney
  • 6 pm: belly dancer Esther DeCew

Donations to the Books at Home program are encouraged.

Learn about the Books at Home Program here: http://www.classicsusedbooks.com/?page_id=13


Lucky 13th Classics Scrabble Invitational

For the first time in its new location at 4 West Lafayette Street in downtown Trenton, Classics held its 13th Annual Scrabble Invitational, where the top 16 players from 2012 met to battle it out for the title of Grand Champion!

After a rousing America the Beautiful, non-lip synched by Trentonian Cherry Oakley (as befits all great sporting events), and after 5 consecutive rounds of play, the winner was determined.  Last year’s Grand Champion, Trentonian Megan Iurilli and number-one seed, Trentonian Eric Maywar, failed to make the final four.

The winners were

  • Tim Walker in 4th Place
  • 2-time Grand Champion Bruce Gross in 3rd Place.
  • 4-time Grand Champion Daniel Robinson in 2nd Place
  • and the 2012/1013 and Current Grand Champion is Barbara Keogh

Scrabble is played at Classics every Friday from 6:30 to midnight at 4 West Lafayette.  All skill levels are welcome.


The Top Seven Things to Love About Classics’ New Location at 4 West Lafayette

  1. Nice big windows and lots of natural light have replaced the long bowling alley shape of the last store.
  2. The outside gooseneck lights are brighter than the street lights!
  3. Angela Bing and Barbara Keogh have joined Miss Laurice and I at the store.
  4. The new Scrabble Club uniforms have epaulettes.
  5. We have a mop closet for our carpeted floor.  Thanks, city regulations!
  6. We now sell books!
  7. Mary Allen points out in an email that “In a comparison of the aesthetic qualities of the new residence of Classics Bookstore to its former dwelling, one of the first attributes that strikes the viewer is the increased white space of the visual scene. This block of solid color produces an undemanding visual backdrop for the geometric windows as well as a vibrant contrast to the forest green Art Nuevo nameplate. Further, the artist has generated interest and thought by utilizing a single pane window alongside a multi-pane window. This juxtaposition seems to speak to the struggles of maintaining individual identity in a modern technological society which demands the fulfillment of a surfeit of different, and sometimes conflicting roles, by the individual. All of these qualities exist in stark contrast to the former dwellings dark tones and crowded visual field which assaulted the viewer and produced an aura of burden and misery.  Wait… what was the assignment?




How to Organize a Bookstore

When we opened up our first bookstore in New Hope PA, it was before I had any kids, so I put the “Horror” section right above the “Parenting” section. 

It wasn’t what I thought about parenting, mind you, but I thought it was funny.  Most browsers didn’t notice it, but I would hear occasional snorts and whispers.  Sometimes people thought it was an accidental placement, which made it even funnier to them.

I’d like to take you on a behind the scene tour of Classics in Trenton, NJ.


I put the Christian section right up front near the door, the spot most likely to be the target of a shoplifter.  My theory is that if somebody steals a Bible, they’ll run home, read that stealing is a sin and bring the book right back.

In addition, the Christian section, the Islamic section, the Jewish section and the section of Buddhism and Hinduism are spread around the store as if to prevent any sectarian tensions.  This arrangement was accidental, but since there hasn’t been any religious conflict in my store, it seems like a good plan.

The Bathroom

You can shop in the bathroom too.  In this special themed section, you can find Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, How to Sh*t in the Woods and Going Abroad: Toilets in Foreign Countries

The Jeff Edelstein Science Fiction Section

Trentonian columnist Jeff Edelstein advocated separating the “Science Fiction” and “Fantasy” sections, while most American bookstores keep them combined.  Jeff had strong feelings that one of these sections shouldn’t be mingled with the other “inferior” one, and so we divorced them.

Apparently, combining the two sections is unique to the United States.  According to SF author Robert Sawyer, it is the fault of “Donald A. Wollheim, a science fiction editor, (who) brought out the first U.S. edition of what was then a unique work, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.  If someone else had scooped that up first, the two genres would never have been co-mingled.”

To read more about the history of the Jeff Edelstein Science Fiction Section, visit http://www.trentonian.com/articles/2007/02/12/today’s%20stories/17841067.txt?viewmode=default


I have customers who love finding The Perfect Storm (the true story of a terrible storm that swamps the crew of the Andrea Gail) in the “Travel” section.


Comment and let me know what other changes I should make.  “Horror” and “Parenting?”  “True Crime” and “Politics?”  “Etiquette” and “Television Political Commentary?”


We are continuing our feature on prize-winning novels, with commentary by Classics customers– http://classicsbooks.wordpress.com/prize-winners-and-cult-classics/

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002.

Commentary from Classics customers: 

John Calu: “Challenging from the initial premise to the way he maneuvers between different eras without a warning… incredible writing.

Garry R Feltus: “Having been raised in the Great Lakes region, I really enjoy and have a bias toward the ‘coming of age’ component in Eugenides’ writing. His description of and his reaction to the tension of the 60’s in middle America is almost profound. In fact, I see storyline as more a metaphor for old world/new world, adolescent struggle with sexuality and a storytelling bridge than as a study of gender identity and hermaphroditism. It is, nonetheless, a wonderfully told story with a profound respect for family history, response to societal norms and self discovery.

Jan Wigginton: “I think Eugenides is an immensely talented writer and there are many reasons to like this book. Personally, I am a big fan of an “attention grabber” opening and in my book, Middlesex ranks right up there :

“I was born twice: first, as a …baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan in August of 1974. “

With an opener like this you almost have to keep reading (I know I did). I also think his account of Greek family life is absolutely hysterical, and I love how he weaves so much of the history of Detroit into the story of the Stephanides family. Definitely read this if you get a chance — I’m sure you’ll find your own reasons for loving this book as much as I did!

How Used Bookstores are Saving the Universe

The Environment

I couldn’t find any numbers for books alone, but about 54.3 million tons of paper and paper fill American landfills every year.  Among that 54 million tons are countless libraries worth of books that could be kept in circulation instead of weighing down our waste infrastructure.

When you buy used books, you don’t just help keep them out of landfills; you also help preserve our natural resources. It is estimated that 24 trees are needed to produce one ton of virgin printing paper.

Used book stores are such a part of the fabric of American life that it is easy to forget that they are as important environmental centers, as important as newer (and therefore more visible) reuse centers like TerraCycle in Trenton.

Save the environment.  Support your used bookstores. 


Used books improve education by providing low-cost options to fill a home with books. 

Not only are used bookstores already a fraction of the cost of new bookstores, some (Classics in Trenton NJ for example) provide books for FREE for local kids.  You don’t get lower-cost than that!

What impact does having books in the homes of kids have?  Especially books in the homes of low-resourced families in struggling school districts like Trenton?

The following is from “ScienceDirect – Research in Social Stratification and Mobility : Family scholarly culture and education”

Only 40% of children from bookless homes with unschooled parents can be expected to finish Year 9, compared to 88% of children with unschooled but book-rich parents, a huge 48 percentage point advantage.

A home library is also a big advantage in getting children through high school, for illiterate and university educated parents alike. For unschooled parents, the advantage of a large home library is 33 percentage points, about the same as the 37 point advantage for primary educated parents, 40 for incomplete secondary parents, 41 for parents with high school education, and 38 for university educated parents. 

Classics Used and Rare Book in Trenton (117 South Warren) has consistently handed out over $4,000 in FREE books every year to Trenton kids through their Books at Home Program.

Support education.  Support your used bookstores. 


Far more than other businesses, used bookstores are meeting grounds for the community to meet and discuss matters of community importance and then taking action.  Random collections of customers at Classics Used and Rare Books, for example, have volunteered to help restore a vandalized mural, provided back-to-school backpacks for foster kids, and knitted helmet liners for soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

In addition, used bookstores, far more than other businesses, provide space for community groups to meet.  Classics in Trenton, for example, has opened their space for Peoples and Stories, BOOST, the Urban Studies Group, the Trenton Scrabble Club, the Trenton Kids Books Club, Trenton Knit and Stitch and other community groups.

Support your community.  Support your used bookstores. 

Arts and Letters

Used bookstores are on the vanguard of supporting regional authors with booksigning opportunities and consignment sales to which chain bookstores can be insensitive.  In addition, cutting-edge used bookstores, like Classics in Trenton, find ways to offer additional support.  Classics published the Trenton Review, which features Trenton artists, authors and subjects including Pulitzer Prize-winning Trenton poet Yusef Komunyakaa and the infamous Trenton rock hall, City Gardens.

Support local arts and letters.  Support your used bookstores. 

Economic Development

Like they do in supporting local authors, used bookstores are far more receptive to selling products of local business people.  Nowhere besides Classics, for example, can you purchase Trenton bridge tee-shirts done by a Trenton artist, candles from two local candlemakers (Ana Candles and Messiah’s Candles), note cards depicting the Battles of Trenton, outlandish ties made by a Trenton seamster, a DVD on tomato pies produced by Trentonians, and music CD’s by Trenton artists like The Blue Method, Clarice Sabree and the musicians of Trenton2Nite.

Support local micro-businesses.  Support your used bookstores.