by Jacinto Jesus Cardona

Hang up el abrigo. Abril is here. 
Todomundo basks en un abril abrazo.  El frío is far away, at least here in San Antonio.  

Imagine early man leaving his cave, his abrigo against the elements, and embracing el sol, todas las flores in full abril glory.  

Abril aguas mil. April showers mean May flowers. Abril y mayo son las llaves de todo el año. 
Abundancia. Abundancia.  Bibcocks rejoice!  

Abril is aperture, la gran apertura. Abril is about abrir, like un botón bursting into flower. 
El botón, el botón.  You cannot go wrong with abril el gran botón: abrir los ojos, abrir la mano, abrir
un libro, abrir los pensamientos, abrir una cuenta, abrir el apetito.  

In a field of wildflowers, I stand like un vivaracho, muy vivo y alegre, like un vocalista unfolding a new song in his corazón..  
Abril is here. I stroll like un Gran Capitán.  Abril is here.  Go get a baguette and salute everyone you meet

¡Viva el magnetismo de abril!


John Bishop found this charming little notice in an old book yesterday.

There are so many varieties of used bookstores.  John Bishop and I made up a partial list below.  Please feel free to add your own take on this theme. 

The Behemoth

This bookstore is truly deserving of the title; it is large, cavernous, with room after room of shelves from floor to ceiling.  There are likely to be stacks of books on the floor in front of shelves, leaning towers of Pisa wherein the only book you are looking for is invariably resting at the bottom.  Retrieving this worthy title puts you at risk of having the entire structure fall upon you.  In these stores, there is a book to suit every customer, as long as they have several hours to spend searching for it among the haphazard stacks.  Many customers love these stores, not least because one is likely to find that rare tome still bearing the price that was penciled in twenty years ago. 

The Whippet

This category of bookstore features a small selection usually themed to suit the taste of the owner.  If he is an actor, there will be a wonderful drama selection.  If she is a history buff, there will be a few rare gems (likely culled from her own collection).  It takes only a few minutes to size up stores like this, and their entire inventory can be taken in one big gulp.  One shops these stores for the books that fall outside the taste of the owner, because those will invariably be undervalued and underpriced. 

The Luxury Liner

Ah, these are rare indeed.  This is the kind of place where one can walk in looking for a signed copy of All Quiet On the Western Front, in the original German, and find it.  Every polished shelf features only the best titles in superb condition. The musky aroma of hundreds of leather bound volumes permeates the air. The staff is scholarly and tries not to look down their noses when a customer comes in asking for the latest diet book.  The guy behind the counter wears a bowtie and has manicured nails.  A book only makes it into their literature section if it was published prior to the last fifty years.      

The Hip Shop

This is where you will find a copy of Alan Ginsberg’s Howl (City Lights edition) on display by the register.  They sell incense packs on a spinner rack where other stores have bookmarks or greeting cards. The moment you walk in, employees offer you the finest organic teas to enhance your shopping experience and help purify your mind, at $4.99 a cup. One of the employees has a display of handmade jewelry crafted along Native American designs, which any Native American could tell you were invented to be sold to gullible tourists and hippies.  They hold monthly séances and feature a complete line of Tarot cards and scented candles to enhance your journey of enlightenment.  

The Commercial Cruiser

This is the kind of shop where every customer gets the prepared greeting as soon as they enter the door.  The front of the shop is carefully arranged to suit the Feng Shui of the company sales guru.  Spinner racks stand like sentinels, filled with bargain DVDs, calendars in season, and books on audio.  Every square foot is employed to lead the customer further and further into the shop where the neatly fronted shelves feature only the newest looking books, most of which are remaindered.  A volume of Hemingway’s In Our Time if it lacks a dust jacket will likely find its way into a “nostalgia” section.  The best thing about these stores is that they are so heavily shopped, their stock changes constantly. 

The Gimmick

These are the one trick ponies of book stores and they have only one draw. This can be catering to a particular audience with their selection of vintage westerns for those who still fondly remember Gene and Roy or the complete works of Marx, Trotsky, and Guevara at surprisingly capitalistic prices.  On the other hand their gimmick can be what they do at the store, whether it is an anime club to bring in the teenagers and middle aged men with no other social outlet or having cats run amuck in the store, clawing their way into rare volumes and the shopper’s hearts. These stores live or die on the success of their gimmick and how long they can maintain people’s interest. Expect them to know more about essential body oils than their books.

The Curmudgeon

These shops are always sole proprietorships.  The owner is your classic misanthrope, easily recognizable by the hair growing out of his ears and nose, the worn cardigan he sports all year round, and the house shoes in which he shuffles around the shop.  He tolerates customers only because he has bills to pay and is happiest when the shop is empty.  As much as he is likely to abuse most people who walk into his shop, he is also likely to become a simpering sycophant when someone he deems worthy of his respect is present.

Finally, the Visionary

This is a shop that tries to define itself according to the unique vision of the owner.  Grounded in idealism, the Visionary seeks to make the world a better place, one book at a time.  The owner prides him or herself in leaving behind a small carbon footprint and lies awake in bed agonizing over the use of Styrofoam cups.  Faced-out books are more likely to be classic counter-culture tomes than bestsellers.  Original art work graces the walls, but none of it is for sale because the owner cannot bear to part with each treasure.  This bookseller is the most likely to carry home half his product if there is no one to check his ravenous appetite.  Actually receiving money for the books he sells takes some of the sting out of letting them go. 


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