Of Books and Backaches

Pazzo Books (a longtime bookseller with Biblio.com) has a great tipsheet for moving a bookstore over at the Bookshop Blog. Probably many of us in the book trade can sympathize with Tom, having endured this pain at some point, or at least dreaded it. Usually, its accompanied by invectives and curses brought down upon publishers for making the bloody things, authors for writing long novels, box manufacturers for not using enough glue, and our forefathers for not passing on the genetics that would give us a torso like Bluto.  And followed with solemn oaths to leave behind our burdensome lives of pulp and print.  And followed shortly again with a grievous recantation.

The first time my wife and I had to move our old bookstore, we really didn’t have the luxury of planning. The roof caved in during a thunderstorm, dumping what must’ve been hundreds of gallons of stinking tarwater on our beloved stacks. The water was 3-4″ deep when I walked in that morning. With the help of an army of friends and family (and fortunately my wife has a large one), we were able to move the entire shop and re-open a few doors down within a week. We must’ve tossed a couple thousand soggy, swollen books (and, if you think books are heavy, just wait until they’ve absorbed a half gallon of water each!).

Later, in 2000, I could have used some sage advice though, when we finally closed our brick and mortar, and decided to move the bulk of our 20,000+ inventory to the upstairs of our house. It took me about 10,000 books and 14 bottles of Alleve before I finally came up with the idea of loading boxes into a makeshift pulley system (laundry baskets and nylon rope) so I could hoist them through a second story window. Despite the innovation, when done we were left only with creaking backs and floorboards, while we collapsed among wobbling piles of fabulously disorganized boxes. Realizing, of course, that the real work had just begun. Had we only read Tom’s tip…

3 – Be organized in your move – stack sections together and in the order you’d like to use them. I actually thought of this one beforehand, but I’m constitutionally incapable of this level of organization – if you can do it though, your present self will owe your past self a debt of gratitude (as a friend of mine likes to say).

… I would likely find myself now indentured to the twentysomethingme then. Which would be like trading a backache for a splitting headache.

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