Is Twice Sold Tales owner Jamie Lutton going bankrupt? "Bullshit!" she yells down the phone when I ask her about rumors to that effect. But during a heated and emotional conversation, the voluble, 50-year-old Lutton, a fixture on the used book scene for 25 years, qualifies that by saying: "Not yet." And even if she is going bankrupt, which she reiterates is none of my damn business, she says "I'm not closing" and mentions that her attorneys have told her she doesn't have to. Calling herself "too mean and too weird to learn another trade," she says: "Where am I going to go if I'm not a bookseller? I'll sleep in the aisles if I have to."
Alice Wheeler Lutton in better financial times
"I'm obviously going through financial problems," she says. In this economy, "anybody in retail has lost their shirt and their jockstrap." Plus, there's the 800-pound gorilla: virtual booksellers. "The new menace on the horizon is electronic books--not just [those read on] Kindle but [on] BlackBerries," she says. She refers to a New York Times piece last week on struggling booksellers in England (presumably this one) and adds that pretty soon, the experience of browsing real books in a real store will be gone.
In the meantime, she offers to make a bet that she'll still be around in five years. Still, she seems near tears. "I tried to be funny and I slipped and showed you my despair," she says.