Used bookstore in North Dakota charges by the inchDUNN CENTER, N.D. (AP) — Luanne Knudson plays old records on an actual turntable down at the Used Book Store in Dunn Center, but it's her joy of living that makes a wanderer pull up a metal folding chair and stay for a while.
By: LAUREN DONOVAN, Associated Press
DUNN CENTER, N.D. (AP) — Luanne Knudson plays old records on an actual turntable down at the Used Book Store in Dunn Center, but it's her joy of living that makes a wanderer pull up a metal folding chair and stay for a while.
Knudson keeps the door standing open on warm afternoons in one of few lit-up buildings on Main Street. Music pours out and sunshine pours in, along with the occasional winged flyer and human in search of something cheap and new to read.
The music pumping out of the '70s vintage stereo cabinet is "Happy Organ Goes Country," proof that nothing that could be made up is more amazing than the truth.
"Should I turn that down?" she asks, over the loud strains of "Yellow Rose of Texas," reaching in to give a counterclockwise twist to the large volume knob.
"Pretty loud for a bookstore anyway," she adds.
Darn. There goes the urge to break into a polka among the thousands of books piled on tables and spilling off the ends of overfilled shelves.
The inventory is made up of donated books, many from the Dunn Center Public Library that opened a couple of years ago, when folks in town decided to turn on a light in the literary darkness.
All those extra or aging books seemed like a moneymaking opportunity, so Knudson volunteered to keep the Used Book Store open three days a week, as long as the historic, unheated building stays warm enough.
"It's open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, unless I feel like it," she said on a Wednesday, a day she felt like stacking books into some extra shelving that just came in.
The store is her "thing" after being in and out of libraries and classrooms all her life.
Books cost $1 an inch hardback, 50 cents paperback. To demonstrate how it's done, she takes a ruler from her desk drawer and measures how high the pages stack up, cover to cover.
"Isn't that clever?" Knudson says.
It is, though it favors people who like a quick read instead of something thick and weighty, like "War and Peace."
The $300 or so the store generates in a warm-month year goes to support the library. It's not much for all the volunteer time that goes into it, but it helps.
By rights, only devoted readers should operate book stores, and Knudson is one to the core. Where most people would keep candy, or a stash of potato chips, she keeps books.
"I've got a whole drawerful down here," she admits, sliding open the bottom right-hand drawer of her desk.
In fact, she can go through her life history so far based on what she was reading at the time. There were the history years, the gothic mystery years and the self-help book years that got her through her bad first marriage.
Helped her so much she got into a second marriage — to a good man, she said. Now, she reads some fiction and poetry.
She likes how people connect to books.
A young man came in recently to say he wished he'd paid more attention in school and that he had knowledge to catch up on.
They found some high school and college books and he carried them out the door, hopefully to start up where he quit learning years ago.
Anybody is welcome to bring books, or buy books in the Used Book Store, three days a week, but possibly more, weather- and Knudson-willing. Knudson will be there sorting books and with luck, dropping another album down on the turntable spindle.
"I always think of my poor mother, who said to do your own work first and then someone else's," she said. "I'm just the opposite."