March 7, 2016
Ask a bookseller—Tom Beans from Dudley’s Bookshop Café
by Melville House
In life, there are always big questions. But where can you find the big answers? From your local indie bookseller, of course! In this monthly feature, some of our favorite booksellers will answer those questions we know you’re dying to ask.
This month’s guest is Tom Beans, the owner of Dudley’s Bookshop Café in Bend, Oregon.
A Broadcasting major at Penn State, Tom Beans came West from Suburban Philadelphia, fell in love with bookselling and became the Buyer for a Bay Area Tower Books at the company’s peak. The intervening years led to a career in Print Production and Design and a stint as a fly fishing guide but books were in the blood. When the opportunity presented itself, he took over and revitalized Dudley’s in Downtown Bend. With a newfound focus on Literary Fiction and Creative Regional Non-Fiction, Dudley’s is thriving as the new literary hub of Central Oregon. Tom also makes a mean cappuccino and drinks way too many of them.
What’s your mantra?
Just stumbled on this one recently but it’s a good one: “…don’t let your life become the sloppy leftovers of your work.” —Jim Harrison
Your greatest extravagance?
My Winston B3x 8.5’ 4WT fly rod. The sweetest casting fly rod I’ve ever held in my hand. I’d like to think Mr. Harrison would approve.
Favorite size of book?
If I’m trying to churn n’ burn through ARCs for the store, it’s about 350 pages but if I’m reading for pleasure give me a meaty, 700 page book any day. When asked, I tell customers that the greatest reading experience of my life was the 1462 page unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo. Needless to say, I’m not moving a lot of copies of that one.
No contest. Philly Cheesesteak with provolone, fried onions, and crushed sweet cherry peppers on a proper Amoroso roll.
The sound that you hate the most?
My cat coughing up a hairball in the middle of the night. The sound is bad enough but the associated knowledge that I’ll be looking for hidden land mines in the morning puts it over the top.
Favorite last name of an author?
Camus. I especially look forward to the customer that pronounces it “Al-burt Cay-mus” so I can offer a friendly correction.
The book all teenagers should read?
Old Man and The Sea. So many lessons to be learned from that one. I don’t know that I realized it when I first read it around age 14 but it really is a parable about man’s struggle to survive in the face of a world designed to put up obstacles at every turn. I think this was one of the first times I realized that no matter how hard you struggle to be successful, even if you reach your goal, it call all be taken away. There’s not a damn thing you can do about it except get up in the morning and start all over again.
If you could only play one album on repeat all day long in the store, the full 12-ish hours of the day, what would it be?
Talkin’ Verve or Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers “Moanin'”. If sales don’t matter then give me The Allman Brothers ‘Live at Fillmore East 1971,’ preferably played loud. Either that or Curtis Mayfield’s Greatest Hits. Sorry but I’m a big music junky so asking me to pick just one is damn near impossible.
What, in your opinion, is a book?
For me it’s a $15 passport into another world, one we might otherwise never know or experience. As I get older I realize that I’m probably never going to travel to the Karakoram Range or discover a lost city in the jungles of South America and that’s ok. I can still read about it and put myself in those places which is almost good enough. Reminds me of a great line from Edward Abbey, “Climbing K2 or floating the Grand Canyon in an inner tube; there are some things one would rather have done than do.”
Book(s) most frequently stolen from your bookstore?
Our shop is a giant open space with books around the walls and cafe tables in the middle so theft isn’t much of an issue downstairs. The one guy we had who raided our used books upstairs was eventually caught elsewhere in town with his pants down. Literally. I sure would like to know what titles he was stuffing in his backpack but we never did get them back.