My life is now punctuated with occasions of cataloging the artifacts that my dad saved throughout his life. One of those artifacts I recently ran across was a coupon from a local used book store called Fischer’s Books.
I think my dad introduced me to Fischer’s around the time I was in junior high. Like any small town used book store in a shopping center off the main drag, it was a no frills place. Unlike the fancy book stores in the mall, the shelves in this place nearly reached the ceiling, and books were stacked in the aisles. They were everywhere. I’m sure that it was probably a fire hazard, but it was the late 70s and things were a bit different back then.
I’d grown up going to the little public library in Riverdale, whose shelves were dearly familiar to me. If that library was still in operation I’m pretty sure I could go back and point to the exact shelf where I found the book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space by Gerard K. O’Neill!
That library was tiny by modern standards, but in comparison to Fischer’s it was as bright and airy as Grand Central Station. Let me know if you have any photos from inside that library, I’d love to add them to this post!
Both places smelled of books, but there was a whiff of subversion about Fischer’s. There were things in that store that were just not proper for the shelves of the public library. Things like sword and sorcery pulp. Things like “pendulous breasts” and “ample thighs” and man was that place interesting to wander around in, hoping that your dad wasn’t paying too much attention to what you were looking at.
An Aladdin’s Cave of Paperbacks
The far end of one of the back aisles was jam-packed with paperbacks with pink covers, with various couples on the cover, sporting titles like “A Bucket Full of Love” and “Endless Gazes” and “Hidden Hearts”. I thumbed through a few of them but didn’t see spaceships, robots, or flying birdmen so I put them back and wandered back toward the front and left that section alone.
My favorite area was the section right across from the register, where the latest haul of traded-in sci-fi paperbacks were stocked. Every time you went back you’d find something new and challenging. There were other sections in the store too, that centered on more real world topics, from religion to science.
Comic books weren’t particularly important to me, but Fischer’s stocked them and every so often dad would buy me a couple. It wouldn’t really be until I hit college that I started “seriously” collecting comics from Titan Games & Comics a few miles north of Fischer’s, but even then it was really just issues of Star Wars or Batman – nothing “cool”. The Batman contest notwithstanding, I was never a big comics reader.
Before I sat to write this quick remembrance I did a couple of google searches to see if there was anyone else out there who’d written a thorough writeup of the story of that used book store. Disappointingly, there isn’t. In the event that this post represents the only trace of the store on the internet please believe me when I tell you that this man’s penchant for selling used books launched hundreds (if not thousands) of young minds into a lifetime love of literature, science, and pendulous breasts.
This Fischer’s Fast Buck is treasure.