I Just Bought a Bookmobile

Yep. That's her all right.

Yep. That’s her all right.

“I just bought a bookmobile.”

That’s what I told the teller at Oregon Community Credit Union, right after making the transaction.

“Bookmobile?” she asked. “What’s that?”

I explained: A giant bus. A celebration of the printed word. Books on wheels. A vehicle designed to create spontaneous and inspiring interactions with actual, live, hold-in-your-hands materials.

“Oh,” she said. “So kind of a like a food cart. With books.”

Or that. I just bought a food cart with books.

I plan to take this food cart with books as far as its 1968 engine will let me. Even approaching 50 years old, the bookmobile checks out. Engine, 95% compression. Only 50,000 miles under her belt. A history of serving rural communities across Oregon, and all the good karma of having given away thousands of free copies riding on an International Harvester frame.

So what EXACTLY will I do? The bank teller asked me this. So does my wife.

There are plans. There is a vision. First, a few problems:

  1. I don’t know how to drive stick.
  2. This vehicle is a manual transmission.
  3. The stick is the size of my leg.
  4. The vehicle weighs 15,000 pounds.
  5. The vehicle is currently parked at the top of the twistiest, bendyest, most inhumane hill in Eugene, Oregon which taunts me with the approach of winter and questionably fluctuating brake-fluid levels.

Short-term plan: I want to drive this vehicle and not die in a fiery, 451-degree crash.

Long-term plan: I want to showcase the power of print by sharing books which have changed people’s lives. Actual copies. Dog-eared pages. I want people to hold a book and get something a screen can’t give – a smell, and look and feel, a book which has physically passed from one hand to another. The knowledge that this stack of paper and ink permanently changed someone’s life. I want the space to feel like a sanctuary. I want it to wake people up, and I want the experience to be fleeting. The circus that comes to town for one day. The Hurry! Gotta See! The Get it while it’s hot!

So, yeah. Kind of like a food cart, with books.

I’ll need to have the big top rolling by the time Wildman is released. And I’m hopeful, even as the cruel hill haunts my dreams.

That hill and I. There’s going to be showdown. If I survive, I’ll tell you about it.


11 Responses to I Just Bought a Bookmobile

  1. Pete Ippel says:

    Nice Bradburry reference there…I see what you did 😉

  2. Nikki says:

    You are insane and hilarious. This explains perfectly why we are friends.

  3. Grewe says:

    I love that you bought a bookmobile. Can’t wait to check it out in person. Can you get it to Amsterdam?

    • jcgeiger says:

      Dude. I WISH. That is one of the best cities ever, and you are one of the best people ever. So — I’m sure we’ll be back before too long.

  4. Grewe says:

    P.s. You can’t drive stick???

  5. Skylar Underwood says:

    Where are you driving the bookmobile? Anywhere in Southern California?

    • jcgeiger says:

      I would LOVE to drive the bookmobile to Southern California, and it’s not out of the question. Right now I’m working on a tour in the Northwest, but there’s a good chance (once I become a better driver) that I’ll make it down that way. Feel free to sign up here, and I’ll drop you a line if I’m ever in town. Thanks for the comment!

  6. Awesome! From the founder of Bess the Book Bus!
    Can’t wait to see you rolling!

    • jcgeiger says:

      Hey! Thank you so much! I’ll be rolling soon — just have a *bit* more work to do on the interior. Emergency brake to fix. Tire to repair. But I am GETTING CLOSE. 🙂 Thank you for dropping me a note; much appreciated!

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