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Issue Date: April 2004 Issue


Bookworm's Paradise

Out of print isn't a problem for Harriett Logan. She helps connect bibliophiles with childhood favorites and long-lost vintage titles from fiction to philosophy.

It sounds tough, but 735 of the 1,192 "Stump the Bookseller" queries posted at www.loganberrybooks.com in 2003 were successfully solved. Here are a few of the finds that fueled the service's 62-percent success rate.

Q: There's a Little Golden Book called "What Happened to George" about a pig who eats too many doughnuts one day and floats away to the sky.

A: It's not a Little Golden Book, but it's about the same size. George the practically perfect pig has one fault: what happens to him when he eats a whole platter of doughnuts. [I have a copy] in very good condition, in a very good dust jacket. Sold.

Q: I'm 33 and when I was 7 or 8, I ordered this book from the school book club. -- A little boy or girl mails a letter to his grandma and a series of big monsters proceeds to track the letter down to eat it.

A: It could be "One Monster After Another" by Mercer Mayor, 1974. But the story is about Sally Ann sending a letter to Lucy Jane (not a grandmother) and monsters keep getting hold of the letter.

Q: When in third grade (1950), the teacher began reading a book to us about a girl who wore the same dress to school every day. The next day I was absent and never learned how the story ended.

A: Eleanor Estes, "The Hundred Dresses," 1940. Wanda is a poor girl who lives outside of town and wears the same faded blue dress to school. All the girls tease her because she claims to have 100 dresses and one day her father sends a note to school telling them that Wanda will not be coming back.

Scan the shelves for even a short time and you're sure to feel a nostalgic spark of recognition. You can't help but wonder how this book you incessantly borrowed from your grade-school library has wound up in your hands again after spending the past 25 years tucked into a cobwebbed corner of your memory.

Harriett Logan stands back with an approving smile and watches the moment unfold.

"It's OK," she says with a chuckle. "That's permitted here."

It's precisely this sort of instant that separates her business from the average person's idea of a used bookstore. Logan's shop is unique in that it's so much more than the stereotypical used-book seller piled high with dog-eared paperbacks and old hardbacks, while stopping well short of the stuffy, antiquarian bookstores routinely closed to the general public.

Instead, Logan's cozy, skylight-illuminated space is outfitted with couches, chairs and coffee tables that coax visitors to sit down with their finds as a break from exploring the shelves. And with more than 50,000 titles at last count, there's a lot to explore.

"It's grown from there, but I don't know by what percentage yet," Logan says, explaining that she's been buying a lot of books since moving to her new 6,000-square-foot space at 13015 Larchmere Blvd. from a smaller store down the street in January.

Staying stocked is a priority for Logan, who has received plugs from National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition" and The New York Times during the past year for her "Stump the Bookseller" service that helps connect readers with favorite out-of-print books from childhood by way of her store's Web site, www.loganberrybooks.com. There, Logan invites Web visitors to help her unravel the mysteries from even the most meager clues.

"People will give me the most ridiculous descriptions, like ‘It was this little red book about a girl with ponytails,' " says Logan. "When you get one right, though, it's very satisfying " for both sides."


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