Sightings of great literature in cheap paperback format make me unreasonably happy. I love colored endpapers and a two-color foil-stamped cover as much as the next guy. But I hate the thought that a one-size-fits-all price would ever prevent someone from buying a book they’d love.

Only yesterday I couldn’t get myself to hand over 22 bucks for Wislawa Szymborska’s 96-page Here. Offer me a paperback. Offer me motel-room-Bible-grade paper stock and a binding I’ll need to mend with duct tape midway through the first read. I won’t come crying when a few pages rip.

The photo above is from today. I found this copy of Pale Fire on a nonprofit’s 25-cents-a-book cart. I talked it up. I declaimed “I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / By the false azure of the windowpane” to an audience made up of one third-grader, one fourth-grader, and one fellow dad. The dad shelled out his 25 cents and bought the book, which will only encourage my grating evangelism.


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