Pharos-Tribune

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September 10, 2013

VILLAGE IDIOT: A giant book store where it's all free

(Continued)

You want to learn how to debug your computer? Make a quilt? Build a treehouse? Want to know what plants will live in microclimate Zone 6a in your backyard? Was the real “Wild Bill” Hickock anything like they portrayed him in the show “Deadwood”? It’s all in the free books in the nonfiction section.

If there’s a book you want that’s not in the free bookstore, they’ll find a copy from another free bookstore in another town and deliver it to the store nearest you. You don’t even have to leave your house to order a book. You can browse the free bookstore on your computer at home and have them save or order free books for you. Or you can just call the free bookstore and they’ll do it for you. The store even has free high-speed Internet connections and free Wi-Fi for laptop users.

I know what you’re thinking: If everything in this bookstore is free, there must be some gimmick, like you have to take a tour of some cheesy timeshare, or you have to buy a bunch of scented candles that you really don’t need. Or maybe you have to donate money to some wacky fringe group selling “I Brake for Sasquatch” bumper stickers.

But there is no gimmick; there is no catch.

How far would you drive for a store like that, a place giving away free books? A hundred miles? Eighty miles? Fifty? Would you believe there’s a place like that right here in town? Of course, you do have to sign up for a library card, which takes, oh, about a minute. Or you can keep going to that giant bookstore that charges $26.95 plus tax for the same book the library will let you read for free. Hmmm. Talk about a tough choice. Not.

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life,” “Baby’s First Tattoo” and “Now in Paperback.” He can be reached at jim_mullen@myway.com.

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