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Tom Chaney: No. R708 Think Globally, Act Locally

Of Writers and Their Books No. R708: Think Globally, Act Locally. First published in the Hart Co. News-Herald Sunday, 24 April 2005.
The next earlier column: Rising Tide on the Mississippi

By Tom Chaney

The slogan, "Think Globally, Act Locally" is an environmental call to action that has been a useful way to urge care for our habitat for decades. No good bemoaning the death of the Amazonian rain forests if one strips a hillside of trees for a house site in Hart County.

But I want to talk about this in relation to books and the selling of books. Just this week we have shipped books from Horse Cave worldwide -- from England to Japan and Australia and in the USA from California to New York.Since we began selling books via the internet, The Bookstore has shipped books around the world -- to every continent except Antarctica. Out of deference to the groans of one of my partners, I will refrain from telling you that we have not sold to Antarctica because they have Penguin editions.

Book orders from far-flung places come in for the most interesting reasons.

Tuesday afternoon a new pope was chosen in Rome -- Cardinal Ratzinger. Our intrepid assistant, Bob Beimdick, remembered that we had a book by Mr. Ratzinger. He fetched it. I examined the price, decided that in light of the recent elevation of Mr. Ratzinger to the papacy I would hike the price of the book instantly on the internet.

Sure enough, Wednesday morning we had an inquiry about the book and a phone order for it an hour or so later. Ultimately the book was sold to a national television network library in New York City. All that within twelve hours with time out for sleep.

In our second year of business we had an order for a rather obscure, long out of print book for children. We filled the order. Before I could remove it from inventory, I fielded about twenty more inquiries for the same book from around the world. It was the only book I had by that author and I have not seen any since.

Finally I asked a caller, another book dealer, why the sudden demand for that book by that author. She told me that the author and book had been featured in a story in the United Airlines in-flight magazine the month before.

A couple of years later I offered for sale a book on consignment for a friend from Ohio. The book was a rare one valued at more than $2000. With fear and trembling, I entered the book in our data base and sat back to wait.

Within a few days an order came from a buyer in Kodiak, Alaska. With the help of a credit card, he had the book in three days. Before the days of the internet, I would have to have advertised in several trade publications with the hope that the collector would see it. That process would have taken up to a year and much mailing and telephoning 'twixt here and there.When we got our first order from Beijing, China, a few years ago, we were amazed. Mr. Beimdick noted that the person ordering the book probably was not Chinese. He did not have a Chinese name.

After we acknowledged the order a reply came from the customer identifying himself as a fellow student of mine at the University of Kentucky in 1969. He reminded me of a camping trip four of us took to California that year.

Is there a point to all of this? I'm not sure. But, if there is, it has to do with the internet helping to make the world a smaller place. Space ship Earth just rocks along in the solar system. All us passengers are getting better acquainted with one another, and the distance between Horse Cave and Beijing shrinks to mere seconds in time.

Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at

Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749. Phone (270) 786-3084. email: Tom Chaney

This story was posted on 2011-04-24 10:18:24
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