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.

Bookmobile

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