Wilfrid M. de Freitas - Bookseller

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The Pricing of Books
(A Bookseller's Lament)

By Wilfrid de Freitas and Susan Ravdin

With apologies to T.S. Eliot

First published in the ABA's 2004 Christmas Newsletter.

The pricing of books is a difficult matter
    It isn't just one of your bookseller's games
You may think of course I'm as mad as a hatter
    But a book has three prices, EACH WITH ITS OWN NAME.

First of all there's the price that we'd like to receive
    When we think of the costs, like the price that we paid,
Not to mention the anguish of being deceived
    By the auctioneer's awful description betrayed.
Or for that matter getting up with the dawn
    And having to drive from London to Glasgow,
To hunt through the shops while suppressing our yawns,
    Fruitlessly seeking for the books that we know.

Next comes the price that we'd like to show off with,
    When we think that our copy is better than most,
Until at the book fair they shatter our myth
    And our hopes of great riches vanish like ghosts.
Of books of this kind, we have more than we need
    (There are so many copies on the market today!).
On this internet thing we must get up to speed
    And learn to make use of both ABE and e-Bay.

Then reality sets in and we're forced to concede
    That there's only one price that the public will pay.
That's the price that brings just the profit we need
    Which THE BUYER JUST SENSES, whatever we say.

So when you see us in profound meditation
    The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
A bookseller deep in rapt contemplation
    Is thinking, just then, of what he should blame --
        Surely not his enticing,
        Or fantasy pricing --
"It's the damned internet!" you'll hear him exclaim.

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Wilfrid M. de Freitas - Bookseller
P.O. Box 232, Westmount Station
Westmount (Montreal), Quebec, Canada H3Z 2T2
Tel: (514) 935-9581
E-mail: Wilfrid@deFreitasBooks.com

Last updated: 10/05/17
Site maintained by Susan Ravdin