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The First 50
Bookselling knowledge is widely available and, if sought, acquired. Couldn't be simpler. Any and all expenditures of effort will produce results, and if there's any theme that BookThink hammers on relentlessly, it's this: bookselling success depends critically on acquiring book knowledge, the more the better.
However, knowledge without wisdom, wrote T.S. Eliot, "brings us nearer to our ignorance." It's wisdom that breathes life into knowledge, gives it power and direction. Unlike knowledge, wisdom can't be acquired, even through prodigious effort. It's something that can only be awakened in you from a slumbering cache of gathered experience.
Moments of awakening - those precious aha! times - are triggered by various things. Sometimes they arrive with the sting of ignominious failure but by no means always. Other times they come more quietly, when it's least expected, when there seems to be no trigger at all (though it only seems so because we've missed it). And sometimes they come in perfect silence, by a reading a group of words whose very function it is to wake you - the proverb.
Proverbs have been used for this purpose for eons. A proverb breathes life into knowledge because it's embodied with wisdom, not detached from it. I don't know if anybody has ever deliberately written a collection of bookselling proverbs, but this won't stop me from trying.
Maybe one or more of these will awaken something in you; maybe not. It's the very nature of a proverb that it will mean absolutely nothing to somebody who isn't ready to meet it. Whatever you do, if you come to one that makes no sense whatsoever, don't try to puzzle it out - and don't EVER ask anybody to explain it. This will only make it more elusive. Instead, leave it as a question, and perhaps next time it'll light up your sky.
It's important to note that proverbs can be misunderstood, misapplied, and otherwise shamelessly abused. Some seem to mean one thing at first glance - and often seem overly obvious - and something entirely different, more profound, the next time. Some reveal themselves in steps, over time. Some can be taken too far. Consider Mark Twain's cat, the one who jumped on a hot stove. Bereft of wisdom, the cat never returned, whether the stove was hot or cold. Ah, the meals it must have missed!
Some readers may already be awake to most, maybe all of these proverbs. If so, you've probably been selling books for years and could contribute some of your own. Ultimately, I'd like to build the list to 100. Here's where to contribute: email@example.com
And here's my list:
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