Friday, May 29, 2009

A Common Reader

While sorting through belongings in preparation for our imminent move, I came upon the Holiday 2005 issue of A Common Reader (Catalog 277). This was a delightful little book catalog which, I believe, I started receiving in the mail around 1990, when we lived in Arizona. I liked the catalog so much that sent them a change of address notice when we moved in 1991, and when we moved again in 2000. A Common Reader had a nice selection of literature, history, science, and quirky books. One of the editors wrote short blurbs about the books, and you could tell the people who ran the operation were truly book lovers, too: they thought and felt along with the books. The company included a publishing house that printed the works of good authors like Barbara Holland and Alice Thomas Ellis.

This issue went into my stack of magazines and catalogs that I read in the bathroom. A few months later, I realized I hadn’t received a catalog for a while. Sure enough, I did a web search and the operation had closed rather quickly in early 2006: http://multichannelmerchant.com/mag/book_closes_common_05012006/
I even found a couple of blogs that lamented the company’s demise. The bloggers wished, like me, that the owners had alerted customers of financial difficulties or, at least, had thanked customers for their loyalty.
http://happy_as_kings.typepad.com/happy_as_kings/2006/03/where_did_a_com.html
http://thatrabbitgirl.blogspot.com/2006/01/rip-common-reader.html

Perhaps the owners just didn’t realize how much people enjoyed and appreciated the catalog. Perhaps not enough people took the time to send feedback. (I didn't, although I did order from them regularly.) Coming across this last 2005 issue, I remember the enjoyment I took from the listings, as I would browsing the aisles of a small, quirky bookstore (like one I enjoyed in Kentucky--which also closed) in hopes of finding a book that might touch head and heart.

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