Thursday, August 23, 2012

Books, Drugs, and Wallpaper

by Stephen J. Gertz

Struggling booksellers seeking new ways to broaden their client base and increase profits may wish to follow the model of F.W. Richter, who, in 1907, advertised in Tried and True: a Collection of Approved Recipes, a cookbook by the Trinity Church of Niles, Michigan issued by the Mennonite Publishing Co. of Elkhart, Indiana.

Like a wise investor, he held a diversified portfolio of inventory just shy of you name it. When book sales were down he could leverage the loss against sales of drugs, art, stationary, wallpaper, spices and extracts.

He even had promotional glass bottles made, a masterstroke as bookmarks are throwaways but bottles are forever and useful, particularly for storing pure extract of book while broadening brand awareness.

In 1907, nostrums containing heroin, morphine, and cocaine were readily available (though by then regulated) in drug stores. Considering that many of us believe that books produce a euphoric altered-state the retailing of drugs and books in concert, though cross-addiction a distinct possibility, makes perfect sense.

Not sure about the wallpaper, though.

Stacked paperback wallpaper from Anthropologie.

Unless it's book-oriented. Then, like Daniel, you can read the writing on the wall in the comfort of a den, "Mene, Mene, Tekel, u-Pharsin," y'know what I mean? Probably best, though, to keep the lions on a short leash, fed and sated.

• • • 

Mennonite Publishing Company, 1886.

The Mennonite Publishing Company existed from 1875-1925. "The Mennonite Publishing Company did an outstanding service in its book and periodical publications both in German and English, serving not only the Mennonites and Amish Mennonites but also a large block of the Russian Mennonite immigrants, particularly in Manitoba. For the latter group it published the Mennonitische Rundschau and hymnals, catechisms, and confessions of faith" (Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 634).

Bottle image courtesy of Bibliophemera, with our thanks.

Image of Mennonite Publishing Company courtesy of Gameo, with our thanks.

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