Soon I was light-headed and dazed in the Kasbah. At last I found she whom I sought. My appointment over I went to find a coffee. Everywhere was too crowded. An acquaintance I hadn’t seen for many years caught up with me. I remembered his name, just about—and he mine. I knew he had been a book-seller in a highly respectable second-hand book shop.
‘What do you do now? Why are you here?' I asked. ‘I am a sample buyer' he said, ‘A what?’ ‘ I buy samples, and we, the people I work with, sell them through Amazon?’ I couldn’t work this out. Oh, books laid out as samples on stalls! ‘How?’ We get up to 85% discount on the sale price just to cart them away. They can’t be bothered to crate them up and take them back: you’d be surprised how expensive too some of the big publishers’, like Chatto, wares are.’ ‘ Oh, so you’re a buyer?’
‘ I carry cash usually and arrange for them to be packaged and taken off at the end of the fair. We have a warehouse.’
I was staggered. Here was a highly privileged –ex-public schoolboy, a BA or MA, dressed to fit the right book fair image, working, I daresay lucratively, as a scavenger: buying up the orts and greasy relics of the fair, and handsomely profiting from them. An eye-opener to the ways of the giant Amazon—and no profit or royalty for the humble scribe!
"So nat'ralists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller fleas to bite 'em.
And so proceeds Ad infinitum." Jonathan Swift