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, June 3, 2009

Publishing Dinner

Last evening I sat opposite this guy on the commuter train. He was wearing a nice suit and had a yellow striped tie. He looked end-of-work-day zoned out, the same way I felt.
Suddenly his cell phone rang. He transformed. He became animated and smiled this big, friendly, genuine smile into the phone.
The way these crowded commuter trains are, I was only inches away from the phone. I was practically part of the conversation. The guy in the yellow tie was inviting the caller to a dinner party, but the caller was already busy and couldn't make it. They were both disappointed.
"There will be about 12 of us - mostly editors I guess, some execs, a few authors. We all wanted to get together and discuss publishing." He went on to talk about some of his authors and projects he was working on and editors he was having lunch with.

Have you any idea how much I wanted to tap this stranger on the knee and beg to be invited to that dinner? It would have been completely inappropriate, right?

Ordinarily I would have taken that train from Grand Central Terminal all the way home. I would have been sitting opposite him for 35 minutes. I would have heard more and more about coming publishing discussion dinner. The tension might have become unbearable.
Last night though, in a freakishly unusual circumstance, I departed the train at the Yankee Stadium stop. The guy was still on the phone.
I guess that unusually early departure saved me from blundering through who knows what social taboos.

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