Chapter 94 He’s a National Treasure — Riley Poole, Where Are You?

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National Treasure’s Riley Poole, played by Justin Bartha

Remember the good old days in bookselling — the ones I’ve only heard about but am too — ahem — young to have experienced? The ones where all it took to sell books was some books and a brain and the ability to gather research from other books? Some of the oldtime booksellers were amazing at this. They were the orginal great ones. Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach comes to mind as one the greats, and there are many others. I even named my business after a memoir written by the good Dr. R.

You might think I am lucky to live in the age of technology. I can communicate with my customers, with other booksellers, and with other bibliophiles all from the comfort of my computer. I can research a great deal about books online, too. It should be easier to sell books, in this era of instant information. You might think.

As I try to become more organized in my business, I’m learning how much of bookselling these days requires good technological skills to go along with the good book skills. Build a website. Design a blog. Scan the covers of your books. Be able to upload your books to numerous selling sites. Layout your print catalogue on computer. Send your catalogue as a PDF. Once learned, the ability to do all of these things is fun and convenient. The learning curve, however, for a technophobe like me who wishes she was born in the 19th century, is slow and steep. I’ve decided that I need my own personal Riley Poole.

Who, you ask, is Riley Poole?

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Don’t you just love a movie where the action heroes are poring over documents at the Library of Congress and vigorously debating history?

Riley Poole is a fictional character, played by the actor Justin Bartha, but, oh, how I wish he was real and that he worked for me. During Tom and Huck’s Christmas Vacation, we went to see the movie, National Treasure II: Book of Secrets. It’s a Disney movie, and it’s clearly designed for kids, but it’s loads of fun. The hero is a historian. His girlfriend is a conservator for the Library of Congress. His best friend is Riley, a tech geek and a writer. Together, they solve a mystery involving John Wilkes Booth’s long lost “diary”.

How could I not want to see a movie that features a historian, a writer, and a Librarian of Congress as action heroes? There are major scenes that feature old books and documents and an action sequence shot inside the Library of Congress. How can I not love a movie that tries to show kids that history is an exciting mystery and that we need more good detectives? Not surprisingly, the movie does not exactly portray “true” American history, and my own personal book sleuthing has yet to involve the FBI, the Secret Service, car chases, and explosions, but it’s still lots of fun. I hope the movie encourages kids to be interested in history and to understand how its interpretation is largely revealed through documents and books from the period in question.

Anyhow, I digress. Sorry. The hero, Benjamin Franklin Gates, played by Nicolas Cage, gets to do most of the glamorous historical and book work. However, he frequently needs to use technology to access information relevant to the document he is studying, and sometimes he even needs to use technology to gain physical access to those documents. Enter the hero’s best friend, Riley Poole. Riley is a tech nerd of the highest order, and he is able to piece together all kinds of speedy and unlikely technological solutions to solve problems and to decode secret messages in books. Without him, the bookish Ben Gates would spend hours — days even — poring through resources like the National Union Catalogue to solve mysteries, and that is just too unwieldy for a 90 minute film. Don’t get me wrong. Ben Gates could solve the mystery without Riley, but Riley’s technological skill speeds things up so that Ben can piece together in minutes details that would take months to connect in real life.

After watching this movie and enjoying it right along with Tom and Huck, I decided that, in an effort to speed up my slow learning of the technological aspects of bookselling, I need my own Riley Poole. I need someone who can organize my Dante scans, write HTML, and improve the look of this blog and my website. That way, I can do the bookish work that involves books yet still complete my work in this century. Living near Silicon Valley, I see that, like it or not, technology is here to stay, and that, if I can adapt to it, it will help me be successful in my bookselling pursuits. So adapt is what I plan to do.

Riley, are you out there? The technological part of my book business needs rescuing.

See you in the stacks!

4 Comments

Filed under A Bookseller's Education, Organization, Uncategorized

4 responses to “Chapter 94 He’s a National Treasure — Riley Poole, Where Are You?

  1. I know some HTML, I think the look of your blog is fine as it is, and I can certainly do scans and typing.

    So is there anything I can do to help you?

    BTW I too think Riley was a VCN – Very Cool Nerd. I wish I had the Tech skills he has. And I would love to have the research skills he has as well.

  2. Very good posting. Again…

    No I’m not tired of saying that just wishing I had time management skills like you must have.

  3. Ah, my family and I loved that movie, too — the 7-year-old is the biggest history buff of them all, and he was riveted (which is difficult for a 7-year-old boy to pull off). It’s nice to see a movie place such a focus on books as the key to all kinds of things, rather than a book being a macguffin or a fanciful plot point (“the book is magic and can talk!”) The last Indiana Jones was good in that respect, too: diaries and libraries and even book-burning…

  4. Pingback: Chapter 204 Let’s Be Careful Out There, Or, On the Job Injury « Book Hunter’s Holiday

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