Small Change or Large Dollars


Anne Michael

Seasoned Lightly is on hiatus until after the first of the year when Anne Michael, who is taking a break, will return to BiblioBuffet. In the meantime, we invite you to revisit some of her early pieces.

The only constant in life is change. I don’t know who said that, or even when it was originally said, but if there are any words engraved on the inside of my eye lids, it is those seven. (There are actually a couple of others like “sale” and “watch your weight” there as well, but that’s another story).

We all know people who flit like bees to flowers, changing their ideas and ideals as often as they change their underwear, just as we know others who refuse to change anything and must be dragged kicking and screaming into a new year, never mind a new decade. Each approach has its place, but nowhere is it as evident as in the bookstores in the Sarasota, Florida, where I live.

The new bookstores on the high traffic roads outside the quaint downtown area such as Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Borders are huge. Unfortunately, they have all the warmth and ambiance of a warehouse, even with their cafés scenting the air with fresh-brewed coffee. To their credit, however, the selection is immense, the displays vast and colorful, bearing certain cheeriness in the way they are so brightly lit. Truly, there is no such thing as a bad bookstore.

I love the fact that these large bookstores cater to every kind of reader, young, old, those who enjoy fixing things up, be it a pool deck or broken heart. They even cater to those who only read magazines or newspapers or who love to travel to distant places. The staffing tends to be the same as many other businesses around. The “associates” either haven’t the brains God gave a duck or they are wildly passionate about books and can enthrall you with all they know. Then there are the technical types who have never read any of the books they carefully put out on tables and shelves but who can tell you where anything is in a snap. These stores are on the cutting edge of retail and exemplify the constant of change, doing so without fear. 

On Main Street, the center of the downtown area, are the old bookstores. Each one has a distinct personality. Each is redolent with the smells of ink, paper and tinged with mildew. Each has a unique style and set of individuals who stand guard over the cash register and array of reading materials. Each of these businesses appears to have been around since Methuselah was a teenager. What is left of the original paint and varnishes still grace the walls and woodwork. Most interesting, each has its own specialty and its own way of doing business. It seems the only thing that changes is where the resident feline mousers are found sleeping during business hours.

The staffers tend to look as though they are stuck in some sort of time warp and speak only when spoken to, though they are generally friendly. They know where each item in their domain is located which is a boon. They are as much a part of the character of the place as the feather duster that can be found lying where it was dropped in order to help a customer.

When it comes to books, it’s a marvel to be able to get whatever takes my fancy. It’s even better when I have my choice of where to find it when caught in the lust for a good read. It is, indeed, the best of both worlds—changing and changeless.

At age 10, Anne realized she was never going to get to be Miss America since reading a book was not an acceptable talent. So she went on to get a job and raise a family. Along the way, she fixed meals, picked up toys, helped with homework, and collected a drawer full of rejection slips for her “great American novel.” It was not all bad, however, since she ended up wallpapering a closet with them. She currently designs and creates greeting cards for her tiny company, The Frog Prints, LLC, and also works full-time as a Training Specialist. Anne is currently tethered to reality by a loving spouse, two dogs and the occasional hurricane that blows through Florida, although falling headlong and happily into a book is still her favorite “talent.” Contact Anne.



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