Whenever I'm shopping for a used book, I look for ex-library copies. They usually arrive in decent shape, encased in a nifty mylar dust jacket. Occasionally, the margins contain the amusing or even insightful scribbles of some discourteous library patron. So, I had mixed feelings when I recently found an ex-library copy of Richmond Must Fall offered for sale online. The price was decent and, in a few minutes, the book was in my cart and on its way to my house. It arrived at my doorstep with the words "King County Library System, WA" stamped prominently across the top edge.
I'm no library expert, but I figure books get the boot when they gather too much dust on the shelves. However, this copy has a few signs of life: small coffee stains on the fore edge and a less than tight spine. Western Washington is one of my favorite places. So I felt a little deflated that the good people of King County had demonstrated little appetite for a detailed, tactical study of Grant's sixth offensive at Petersburg - what's wrong with them? However, my faith rebounded and my spirits rose when I checked the King County online catalog and found three copies still circulating in their system. I am happy to take this fourth copy of their hands. Besides, the mylar is nice and shiny.