Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Secret Lives of Books

Got a used book the other day from Amazon. It's a Doctor Who tie-in novel called All-Consuming Fire and it teams the Doctor with Sherlock Holmes. Sounded like my kind of thing, and I am indeed enjoying it and will doubtless review it here once I've finished. When I opened the book though, a few items of interest fell out. One was an inventory slip from a Little Professor Bookstore in another state and the other, a movie ticket stub from The Lion King. What (as Holmes would say) can we infer from these objects? The Lion King was released in 1994, which is also the publishing date of the book. The book was probably purchased new at the Little Professor Bookstore since the inventory slip was present and since it's a UK book. Little Professor stores often had foreign editions. (There used to be one near me.) The fact that the book contained two bookmarks also supports this since few people use two in the same book, meaning that in all likelihood the slip was present at purchase and the ticket stub added later.
If we want to continue in a Sherlockian vein, I would suggest that the original owner of the book was female, probably in her early 20s in 1994 and that she was active in fandom then, but not so much now.
"Really, Holmes!" You say in your best Watson voice," That's going a bit too far."
Perhaps, but consider the facts. In 1994 Doctor Who had been off the air for five years. Only a fan would go to the trouble to pick up tie-in books for a series that didn't exist anymore, particularly since the book was from out of the country and fairly expensive. The condition of the book, flawless though apparently read (the bookmark, Watson) also supports this. Fans (like me) are usually very careful with their books.
Why female? Consider the ticket stub. It too is in perfect shape. No wrinkles, folds, etc. The likelihood is that the stub was placed in the book while the owner was still at the theater. Look at any stubs you've jammed into pocket or purse. Hardly pristine. Why would someone take a book to a movie theater? Because they were alone. I often see individuals reading before a films starts."But female and in her 20s, Holmes?" You say. Hello? She was in the theater alone to watch The Lion King. Doesn't sound very guy like. Even fanboy guy like. Sounds like a fangirl to me. The fact that she later traded the book away indicates a decline in fannish activity. So there you are.
Now of course, just as in a Sherlock Holmes story, there are countless other explanations for the slip and the stub, but wasn't that a fun exercise in Sherlockian thinking?


Lanny said...

That WAS fun...

But tell me, did the ticket stub reveal the location of the theater? Can anything be gleaned about her economic status by the geography of the area or even her ethnicity?

Do go on dear Holmes - surely there is more to this tale.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Well yes, I could give you the address of the store where the book was purchased and the address of the movie theater as well, since those things were attainable with a few keystrokes, but I thought that might be a bit much. heh!

Paul said...

Well done!