Have you ever wonder who owned a text book or the novel in the used book shop before you?
When I bought an old copy of The Grapes of Wrath, I wondered who would get rid of such a nice edition. They even took the time to put their name on the inside cover. Then I wonder, did they move and need more space, did they pass away and some relative of there's discarded it? Even back in high school when you are given text books, I loved adding my name to the list of names under "This book belongs to..." Knowing that next year someone would be reading my name and wondering what kind of student I was. Maybe they would even know me and say "oh yeah, that's my sisters friend." Then again maybe I'm the only one who cared about stuff like that.
Anyway, right now I'm reading a used copy of Nothing if Not Critical by Robert Hughes. It's a collection of essays on art and artists and on the inside flap there's the signature of Dorothy Faison Meder. As the previous owners, she obviously thought the book important enough to write her name in it, but yet I was still able to acquire it over Amazon. Also on one of the extra blank sheets towards the back of the book, there is an intricate blue print scribbled. It looks like its a drawing of a bedroom, complete with arrows that show the distance that doors would be opening to and closet space. Maybe the illustrations indicate that she was bored with the book, but why not erase your name then? Very message in a bottle if you ask me ;)
I only sign my name in the books that I lend to friends and would like to get back at some point. But if I'm selling a story back to a used book store, I always make sure my name is no where on it. I also don't want to ruin the book either, one man's garbage is another man's treasure. Like me and The Grapes of Wrath book.
PS: This is where I go to eat some aweseome crispy fries at 4a.m. in an attempt to combat hangover later that day, it's also right around the corner from my apartment. Check out the NY Times article: A Fanciful Bistro, but Not Too Fancy