The 1¢ Book
I’ve always been a big fan of the bargain bins of the bookstores I shopped. Some of my favorite authors, I’ve discovered for no better reason than I was able to snag a hardcover for $3.99 or a paperback even cheaper. I’ve stumbled upon John Varley, Christopher Moore, Jack Whyte, Joseph Heller and Michael Crichton this way. So I’m no stranger to good values at the bookstore. But today I lucked into a deal to beat all deals.
Jeni starts a new semester on Monday, and for her history class she needed The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan. So as I headed out for a quick trip for groceries, I thought I’d be nice and run by the nearby Borders and pick it up for her. The book was easy to find, even among the relative mess of the reorganizing that Borders is undertaking. Book in hand, I looked around for 20 minutes or so, and even though I found plenty of other books that would have been worth buying, taking into account my current lack of funds along with the absurd pile of books I still have to read, I decided to stick with just my single purchase.
But when the cashier rang up the book the computer alerted her that there was an identical copy of the book in one of the bargain bins. So off she went to locate it for me. She returned with the book to the right, marked down nicely from $14.95 to $3.99.
But when she rang up that book, there was a small problem. Oh well, I thought, it was too good to be true. So I waited as she called over the manager for an override. I guessed that there was some sort of error in the computer and that I would indeed be paying full price. The cashier and the manager discussed the intricacies of pricing books in the bargain section while looking the book over. Finally the manager said, “That price is probably right, all the stuff out front was marked down.”
I took this to mean that I’d get the book for $3.99 after all. I did what must have been a classic Looney Tunes double take when she gave me the grand total of 1¢.
Yes, that’s right: 1¢.
I kept the receipt because, well I’ve never actually had a receipt for anything that cost 1¢. Plus I secretly suspected that I’d get stopped and arrested on the way out.