Old Book Cart in Florence, Italy

Los Angeles Could Use a Few of These

by Paul Hunt

This Photo taken by Bookseller Arnold Herr:  He writes: >>  I looked through Bookstore Memories the other evening and saw your article on book carts in Europe and your request for other pictures.  Here’s one I took in May 1987 in Florence, Italy.  It stood outside the Medici Palace and was just down the street from a penzione I was staying at while in town.  Feel free to use it.

Thanks much, Arnold, we love the book carts.  Pre-Pandemic (seems like a different lifetime) I was occasionally stopping by the Goodwill Outlet store near DTLA.  They had carts similar to the ones in London, basically just a giant drawer on wheels.  Most of the carts were full of clothing, a couple with other junk, and maybe 10 filled with books.  It was madness, the clerks would push out a cart and everyone would have to stand back about 3 feet.  Then the clerk would yell out “OK” or “Go for it”  and the mob would attack the cart, stuff flying everywhere.  The book scouts who were looking for textbooks were the worst, they would just fling  books around.  Many books were shredded by this insanity, spines broken, dust jackets torn.  Picture a pack of Jackals in Africa, plunging into a lame antelope, biting and snarling at one another, occasionally nipping off a piece of meat, the poor antelope giving a final cry and then dying of fear.  That was the Outlet store at its finest hour. Minor injuries were common. Yelling at jerks very common.

I did occasionally find a nice pamphlet or book, but it was not always worth the physical abuse and the evil thoughts of what the fate should be to the reckless bozos throwing textbooks at each other.  The price was right, 75 cents a pound.  Back in the good old days of the early 1970s I used to go to the warehouse of one of the Thrift chains and buy books and magazines by the pound.  Magazines were 10 cents a pound and books were 25 cents a pound, and there was a staggering amount to plow through every day.

So a couple weeks ago I stopped by the Outlet to check the book scene, it was open, although there was a line to get in, and masks were required.  I waited about a half an hour, which isn’t so bad because all the libraries are closed and many of the few remaining bookstores are shuttered.  I got in and there was only one cart with books, an abysmal selection of junk, I couldn’t even make a mercy buy.  So much for the good old days of book mayhem. Social distancing has put an end to the mob of vultures.  At least back then you could get a few things. The carts of literacy are just more victims of the declared pandemic. Our culture may not be far behind them, rolling toward oblivion on broken wheels.

Florida Radio Show Features Arnold Herr

Bucks on the Bookshelf Show Interviews Arnold About His New Book Wild Ride of a Hollywood Bookdealer

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Steve Eisenstein, host of Florida Radio show “Bucks on the Shelf”, recently interviewed Arnold Herr about his life in the book business and talked about his entertaining book on working for Eli Goodman at Cosmopolitan Books in Hollywood.  To download the interview to listen to, click here.

To hear the show, check out the information below.  Also, you can follow Steve on Facebook, click here.

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Check Out The Video Promo for “Wild Ride of a Hollywood Bookdealer”

The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Bookdealer

Arnold Herr’s Screamingly Funny New Book Chronicles His Years Working at Cosmopolitan Bookshop in Hollywood

by Paul Hunt

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Arnold worked for years at the old Cosmopolitan Book Shop in Hollywood, owned by one of the oddest, most eccentric individuals in the history of the galaxy, Mr. Eli Goodman. I also worked at Cosmo, but only part time the last two years of its existence, until its demise a couple years ago.  But Arnold was there for around 20 years when Eli was personally running the biblio madhouse, and luckily for us, he kept his head down and his notebook handy. He originally wrote about the goings on at Cosmo  using a pseudonym for Eli.  His articles were published in the ABAA newsletter, later on BookstoreMemories.com, Stephen Gertz’s Booktryst.com and finally gathered together with new chapters, Arnold’s own illustrations, and a whole lot more funny stuff.

Arnold and I have both owned our own shops.  I knew Eli for many years before I worked there. I heard a lot of the stories first-hand as they were happening, and saw some flashing moments pass by at the speed of light.  Eli, although a complete eccentric, was also a brilliant man.  He had a great memory, was as well read as any university professor of literature, and was a kind man, although he didn’t suffer fools. Well, once in a while just to break the monotony.  He had the longest run of any of the individual Los Angeles bookstore owners, in great part because he had an inner toughness due to his growing up under difficult circumstances and living in the shadow of the Great Depression. You can glean some more about Eli, with some photos elsewhere on this website.

Eli Wallowing in Books. Photo by Paul Hunt

Eli Wallowing in Books. Just as I snapped this, Eli, almost dozing, jerked alive, blurring the photo, due to a customer pointing out a pile of cash laying on the counter. Photo by Paul Hunt

If you’ve ever wondered what really goes on behind the scenes in a creaky, dusty bookshop crammed to the rafters with books, and run by Los Angeles’ number one champion tightwad, catering to an assortment of university professors, literary high steppers, book collectors, and the sweepings of Hollywood crackpots, then here it is.  Arnold’s story is bold, screamingly hilarious.  His pen pops with laughter.  If you don’t get the hoot of your life reading this, then please check into the morgue immediately, ’cause you’re part of the walking dead.

You can order this book from the publisher, Poltroon Press (click here to order)

Eli Goodman Laid To Rest

Goodman Interred at Riverside National Cemetary

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Goodman was interred on April 21, 2016 at the Riverside National Cemetery.  He qualified for resting there by his service in World War 2.  I found a few more photos of Eli, which I am posting here.

 

Eli Goodman, 2009

Eli Goodman, 2009, photo by Paul Hunt

 

Eli Goodman with Price Guide to the Occult. Photo by Arnold Herr

Author Eli Goodman with Price Guide to the Occult.  Photo by Paul Hunt

Eli Wallowing in Books. Photo by Paul Hunt

Eli Wallowing in Books. Photo by Paul Hunt   A customer was pointing to some cash left on the counter, jerking Eli from his slumber and into immediate action, and in the process blurring the shot.

Eli getting ready to close for the day. Around 2009. Photo by Paul Hunt

Eli getting ready to close for the day, around 2009. Photo by Paul Hunt

Breaking news:  Arnold Herr’s hilarious fictional account of his many years of adventure at Cosmopolitan, uh, I mean “Megalopolis Books”, is being readied for publication.  Stay tuned for further news, especially if you are interested in obtaining a limited edition.

Cartoon site puts up Fever Dreams

Cartoon Bazooka?

A humor website/blog with the unusual name of “Cartoon Bazooka” has posted Arnold Herr’s hilarious story of his years as a bookseller.  This is the same story that is on Bookstore Memories, but is a testament to the quality and humor of Arnold’s story that other sites are picking it up.  Although now retired, Arnold is still puttering around in old book shops, and we hope he will write some more stories.  The cartoon site is here:  www.cartoonbazooka.com