Wednesdays at OFB with Bookseller Steph

The Art of Ephemera

Have you seen our walls? If you haven’t been in for awhile, stop by to see Jane’s skills at visual presentation.  We’ve got classic Hollywood and other art prints and historical photos courtesy of Trip Taylor.  Jane papered the wall by the cash register and one by Horror with pages from a novel. (Come guess which one.)  She has framed lots of classic sci-fi and mystery covers and arranged them throughout the store.  This is an evolving project and each day brings the challenge of “Do you notice anything different?”  

The wall by the front door and puzzles (yes, we have puzzles!) is now covered with found items from books buys: bookmarks from shops across the country, photos, hand-written notes, concert tickets, origami, and other surprises.

So check your books, folks!! You never know what you’ve hidden in there. We recently found an uncashed paycheck from the 1990s for over $460.  You’d think someone might have missed that, but apparently they were too engrossed in what they were reading.


The joy of working at Once and Future Books is that each afternoon is a series of discoveries – of books, of people, and of things forgotten.

During a quiet moment one afternoon, a woman shyly asked for “Something distracting, light, maybe with a bit of a mystery.” Jane and I immediately escorted her to Cozy Mysteries where we poked through the shelves to give her a variety of options where she could delight at daft villagers and feel a little bit like she was on vacation (with a murder involved, but that’s part of the fun.)  She left looking much happier and with three books.

Later, I noticed a young person walking nervously from room to room. When I offered help, they blushed and said, “I’m embarrassingly early for a date.” Jane and I were delighted – “We’re a date destination!”  Before long, the date arrived and the two played a sort of scavenger hunt from room to room and eventually left together, each with a book purchase and a smile.

And throughout the afternoon, people brought in their own books for buybacks.  One couple had six large boxes of books they’d accumulated over decades. As I leafed through the volumes, things would fall out – a card from a friend, a note on a post-it, a pressed autumn leaf, beautiful bookmarks, a receipt from a local indie bookstore that no longer exists.  I’d hand over each item and ask, “Is this important to you?”  Each brought an exclamation or a nostalgic sigh. And the books have now moved on to new readers, their pages ready to hold the small scraps of beauty that wash up in our lives.