Okay, it’s 88 degrees, and the pumpkin spice products have just started to proliferate on store shelves. (I have been unable to decide whether the pumpkin spice breath mints or the pumpkin spice bratwurst represent this year’s record, but there may be something even more startling on the way.) Caramel apples are popping up, Halloween costumes are out in full array, and some people I know are planning when to go over and get in line for World Series tickets.
So what I need you to do is think about Christmas.
It’s just three months, you know. And those of you who always wait until the last minute to rush into the A.C. (Almost Christmas) McClurg Bookstore at the Newberry to pick up those presents your friends won’t have seen anywhere else are in for a shock if you wait until four P.M. December 24.
Yes, it’s true. The bookstore will very likely still be in business at its usual location until, oh, December 28 or January 6, or something. But it will disappear for the duration of the Grand Renovation. It’s hard to find a space that’s convenient on the first floor when you’re rebuilding nearly the entire first floor, and there’s not much point in putting the bookstore in the staff lounge. So the manager is doing her level best to Sell Down. That’s what it’s called when a store sells what it has and doesn’t order anything new, so there isn’t much sitting around when the time comes to pack up, lock the doors, and shut off the lights.
The A.C. (After Construction) McClurg Bookstore will be bigger and better, of course. The thing is that there’s little sense buying new merchandise NOW so as to have it out on the shelves in nine months, storing it at Library expense in the meantime.
You see the logic, I’m sure, but do you see the obvious result? As weeks go by, there will be less and less out on the shelves for you to buy. The manager’s estimate is that some day in the next tw0o weeks, she can just close down her whole second floor for good. (If you’re one of those who always says “They have a second floor?”, you’d better go look at it soon. It’ll be gone after the G.R., after blocking the light from the front windows for the last thirty-five years.) There’s a Closing Sale in progress, too, with a good discount, so the available stock is going to decline steadily from here on out.
You can always PRETEND it’s five o’clock on Christmas Eve. (Difficult in this heat, but it’s Chicago: surely we’ve had ninety in December.)
Now, the much beloved Book Fair material will still appear on a cart or two outside the store as long as this is possible. Of course, the carts might become necessary to hold in-store material that is being shifted hither and yon as the store tries to make its progress to the new and exciting future. But the plan is that cookbooks, kitty books, Big Books With Lotsa Pictures (we may use that as a category at the Book Fair itself one day), and anything else which catches our eyes will continue to appear, barring changes of plans, even up to the moment when the manager calls the jaguars out of the basement to chase the diehard customers out on December 24th.
This is also our refuge for nice, new scholarly publications which sell for a couple hundred dollars retail but aren’t especially collectible. This is why you’re finding those shiny books on Tudor era literature published by the Oxford University Press. Anything esoteric and scholarly concerning religion will obviously be choice material for the cart over the next few months. (No extra discount for those of you who recognize these as the books we had for sale INSIDE the bookstore during the Shakespeare exhibit.)
Oh, are we going to miss those carts! This is also the place where we tuck away any reasonably attractive book for which we simply cannot come up with a proper subject area. Is it Religion AND Show Biz AND History? We send it to the cart. Are we unwilling to declare whether a certain book is Art OR Sports OR Philosophy? It was meant for the cart. The Book Fair space outside the A.C. (Abstract Cart) McClurg Bookstore is what has kept us from having a Miscellaneous category at the end of July. (Those of you who have guessed that this is what we use the Fashion category for, or the Books and Authors section, or the Psychology table are just failing our IQ exam.)
Still and all, we must remember that the A.C. (About to Close) McClurg Bookstore will be back at some point in late 2018, big, beautiful, and ready to serve. You can do your little bit for the cause by dropping by to buy something while there’s still a selection. You HAVE been warned (and given your excuse if you have a significant other who wants to know why you bought more books. “They needed my help!”)