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Gavin Breeden

Paperback to the Future

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You know that unique relationship that can form between a reader and the employees at a local bookshop like when they learn your tastes and recommend things to you or set books aside for you because they think it'll be right up your alley? Well, if you're like me and there is no local, independent bookshop in your town you can now have a version of that relationship via the US Mail.


An independent bookstore in Portsmouth, New Hampshire will handpick a book for you based on your tastes and mail it to you. They call it Paperback to the Future.


From what I can tell, this is really the work of one of the employees there. She apparently reads 250-300 books a year from all types of genres. So you email her a few of your all-time favorite books as well as some books you've recently loved and hated. And she'll handpick a book for you (usually from a smaller press to increase the odds that you've never read/heard of it).


You can do a one shot deal ($22) or a monthly subscription. I did the one shot and just got my book in the mail yesterday. I received a new, trade paperback copy of Warlock by Oakley Hill. It's a 1958, Pulitzer-nominated Western which has a long, gushy blurb on the back cover by Thomas Pynchon. I'd never heard of it but it does sound like something I'd be interested in. I had no idea what the book would be when the package arrived and I still don't quite know what to expect when I start reading. (I'm pretty sure this book was picked for me based on my love of Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers, which is a recent darkly funny, violent western that I'd recommend to you if you're into that sort of thing. If Warlock is anything like that then I'll be thrilled.)


So the way I figure it, I paid $22 which breaks down to $3 for shipping, $16.95 for the book (list price), and $2 for the time she spent picking/mailing the book.


Apparently this little service is growing in popularity so it took about three weeks for the book to arrive. Check it out.

Edited by Gavin Breeden

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That sounds awesome and I wish I were reading all of the unread books I own already.

 Agreed, and agreed. In fact, I'm trying to limit my new purchases to a handful a year so I can work on my unread shelves. Which, after a year or so of doing this, is down to around 200 (down from 300+)!

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