Do you believe in spooky? Do you believe in weird?
We got an order for a book we had listed on the Internet. It is a beautiful book published privately at a neighboring suburb, and signed by both the author and artist. Here is the listing:
Blanco-Gonzalez, Manuel, Illustrated by Leon Bellin. Venice Sinking. Eleuthera Press, Winnetka IL, 1982. Limited to 125 copies. Signed by author and artist. $95.
We shipped the book after getting the order for it through ABE who processes the credit card and notifies the buyer that the book was available and has been sent out.
We immediately get an email from the customer who writes: “I did not order this book!!!”
Following this is the nuisance of contacting ABE to reverse the order, have them reimburse his credit card, and my assurance to the customer that he has permission to return the book. But I write: I am looking at your order on the computer right now. Find out who ordered it in your name!!!
He replies that he is completely puzzled by this order, “My credit card has not been in anyone else’s possession at any time. I guess this will have to remain a complete mystery!”
After waiting a reasonable time, I wrote to remind Edgar that the book was not returned. He apologized. The book had been mailed to his city address; he was now at the house he is building in the Bahamas.
He writes, “Well, perhaps there’s a ghost out there who ordered the book for me and wanted me to have it,” and suggests he will keep it, and how does he pay for it now?
I say, “I don’t want you to pay for a book you don’t know about. We can wait until you see it.” And I send him the catalogued description of the book.
Edgar writes, “I just read the description of Venice Sinking. I noticed that it’s published by Eleuthera Press. Well, as it happens, Eleuthera is my favourite island in the Bahamian archipelago which is made up of approximately 700 islands. I’m currently building a house in Eleuthera…”
WHAT!!!!!!!!! Has anybody ever heard of Eleuthera except for the local publishers and this wholly unknown customer who is building on one of 700 islands which happens to be Eleuthera?
Eventually the email: “I received Venice Sinking today. It’s exquisite. Naturally I want to keep it. I have no idea why our friendly ghost wanted me to have this book…..” He continues that he checked his “computer history” again and “there was no reference to our ghost’s purchase using my credit card!” Musing about this mystery, he tell me there is a rock band from Athens, Georgia called Venice Sinking and they have a song called, To Your Ghost. He is as caught up in the spookiness as I am.
Was there ever a book designed and destined for the exactly right customer no matter how devious the route to reach him?
Gads, I love this crazy business.