Christopher P. Stephens, Bookman

Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.

Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world. He has operated appealing bookstores in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, Hastings on Hudson, NY and several in NYC, NY. He is a wholesale dealer to other bookstores all over the world.

Chris loves books.

Stephens now maintains a lively internet operation out of his new home in Scranton, PA.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Alma has lunch with Chris

     Alma Singer gave this picture of her husband to Chris Stephens.  In 1993, Alma wanted to sell the books out of her apartment on 86th Street where she and Isaac Bashevis Singer had lived for so long.  Someone recommended riverrun.
     Alma was a character.  She could be a bit cranky.  She could be abrupt.  Just like Chris Stephens.
     The two hit it off.  They talked and argued and were cranky and abrupt with one another.  They enjoyed themselves immensely.
     At noon Chris needed a food break, but not a conversation break.  "I'd like to take you to lunch," he told Alma.
     "Yes.  That would be nice."
     "Where should we go?  Can you recommend a good place?"
     Alma suggested a nearby deli.  "The food's not so good," she told Chris,  "But the price is right."
     Chris preferred good food.  He wasn't stinting on his pay for her books.  He didn't want to stint on lunch either.  "No. no," he said.  "Let's go someplace where the food is very good.  What's the best restaurant around?"
     Alma didn't think Chris should waste his money.  They argued.  Both were stubborn, but it looked as if they were going to have to eat where the price was right, and the food wasn't.
     Then Chris made the convincing argument.
     "You know, Alma, I'm buying books from you.  This lunch is a business expense.  It's tax deductible."
      Alma was delighted.  "You mean we'll go to lunch on the government's money?"  She directed Chris to a mighty fine restaurant and settled into her seat with satisfaction.  She spread out her menu in anticipation of additional satisfactions.  "My husband was a vegetarian," she told Chris, with relish.  "But I'm not.  I'm ordering beef."
     After a long and very good lunch, Chris and Alma returned to her apartment.  Chris packed up more boxes of books.   Later, it was such a pleasure to unpack those books at riverrun.  It felt good to handle books from their apartment - books that I. B. Singer had written and had read. Books they'd both read.  We integrated them into our stock.
      The picture didn't stay at riverrun.  Chris took it home.  He hadn't purchased that photo.  It was a gift from Alma.  Although Chris picked up the bill, that lunch was a gift from Alma too.

1 comment:

  1. Everything about that story is a delight. It's always interesting to vegetarians to know what their significant others do when they're not at home.