Ship-o-gram: The Book End

Photo taken with iPhone 4, filters in Photoshop + Instagram

Today’s Ship-o-gram comes from a weekend trip to visit Ashley’s parents in Jacksonville on the coast of North Carolina. On Western Boulevard on your way to the big Marine Corps base, there’s a little bookshop that’s been there for over 30 years called The Book End.

The shop’s claim to fame is its claustrophobic stack system: in an ingenious use of space, the owner has eschewed the standard, boring horizontal book storage in favor of vertical piles. It’s almost like he picked the name to fit the function of the shop, because every copy of every book seems to have ended up there; in fact, behind each vertical pile is another vertical pile, so it doesn’t feel too far from the truth. Joel has only gone one pile deep, but in theory, they could keep going on indefinitely.

We’ve already had this question asked on Instagram, so this would be a good time to field it: if you want a book from the bottom of the stack, you have two ways of going about it: 1) The safe way is to transfer the stack to another stack nearby, 4–5 books at a time, until you get to your desired book. 2) The quick way, which is usually what Joel does, is to inch your book towards you slowly with the whole stack above it, push the stack back, inch your book towards you with the whole stack, and push the stack back, until that crucial moment when your book gets dislodged and the stack closes in on the space where your book was.

The danger, of course, is that the stack’s carefully-calibrated equilibrium will get disrupted and the stack will tumble with a muffled sound remarkably similar to 10 cardboard boxes falling down the stairs. But of course, that’s all part of the experience; you’re expected to stack them all back up and act like nothing happened, after which the owner will jump out from behind, shout “Welcome to the club!” and hand you a new membership badge and secret decoder ring.

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