When You Sell a Man a Book You Sell Him a Whole New Life

atkins bookshelf quotations“Lord!” [Roger Mifflin, a traveling bookseller] said, “when you sell a man a book you don’t sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue — you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humor and ships at sea by night — there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book I mean. Jiminy! If I were the baker or the butcher or the broom huckster, people would run to the gate when I came by — just waiting for my stuff. And here I go loaded with everlasting salvation — yes, ma’am, salvation for their little, stunted minds — and it’s hard to make ’em see it. That’s what makes it worth while — I’m doing something that nobody else from Nazareth, Maine, to Walla Walla, Washington, has ever thought of. It’s a new field, but by the bones of Whitman, it’s worth while. That’s what this country needs — more books!”

From Parnassus on Wheels, published in 1917, by Christopher Morley (1890-1957), an American journalist, essayist, poet, and novelist. His most well-known novel was Kitty Foyle (1939) about a white-collar girl who falls in love with an affluent, upper-class socialite whose parents disapprove of the relationship. The novel was adapted into the film, Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a Woman released in 1940, starring Ginger Rogers playing the role of Kitty Foyle. Rogers won an Academy Award for best actress for her performance. Morley had a long and successful career in publishing — he was founder and contributing editor of the Saturday Review of Literature; a judge for the Book of the Month Club, and edited two editions of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (11th and 12th).

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