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Walking Manhattan

My sixth visit to New York was different from all the previous. I was free from work and decided to walk and walk and walk. And I walked for seven days and learned how to find old books.

A hot summer week in 2009. We stayed in an apartment at Upper East, just a few blocks from Central Park. Soon I realised that my 20-year-old son knew more about the town than I.

He told me that Lower East around Chinatown is the cool area. That’s where the artists and musicians hang around. 

I also learned that he has much more energy for nightlife. So, I went to bed when he got out, and got up when he came home. And I walked.

It rained that day I looked around for famous bookshops and antiquaries and learned another thing: Most of them don’t exist anymore. 

I found one in Upper East, on the third floor. The door was locked but the owner showed up, just when I was about to leave. 

He, a big, middle age smart dressed New Yorker asked where I came from and what I was doing in town. I told him I was there with my 20-year-old son. 

“You must be a good man”, he said. “I wouldn’t go anywhere with my son.”

“Why?”

“He smokes pot all nights and sleeps all days. He’s in the lost generation! I can’t stand him.”

I told him that I was looking for an early print of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five.

“What? Are you insane? Still in the medieval time? You don’t walk around to find old books nowadays!”

He thought a while and said: “I will help you. Come on in.”

He locked up the door and invited me into the office. There were a lot of computers inside and two people working in front of computer screens. A huge amount of old maps were hanging on the wall that were dark.

The man presented me loudly:

“This good man comes from Sweden to look for books here. He is in deep shit since he’s traveling with his 20-year-old son. Give him all help he needs!”

His employees, a young man and woman, started to search for the book. They scanned the whole world and printed out a list of all available early prints of Slaughterhouse-Five.

“This is the way to do it”, the man said. “The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers – ILAB is the place. Absolutely reliable, best prices and accurate quality information on each copy – and usually quick deliveries! Stop do this walking!”  

He turned to the woman. “Help this good man out so he can take care of his son.”   

Finally an analog bookstore.

More Manhattan images at Image Gallery.

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