BOB GARFIELD: When the curator at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Library retired, she needed to find an office where she could do some writing and keep all of her many books. But the only space she could find was a retail store in a mall. Undeterred, she took the space, filled it with her collection, gave it the name Corner Books, and all of a sudden she was proprietor of a book store. However most of the books on display aren't for sale, much to the frustration of potential customers. Joining us now from Corner Books is Carol Urness. Carol, welcome to On the Media.
CAROL URNESS: Well thank you very much.
BOB GARFIELD: Now when someone comes in and asks for a book, do they have to pass some sort of check list and you know do they have to establish bona fides before you'll sell them a book?
CAROL URNESS: [LAUGHS] Indeed, I first thought that I was going to give people an interview and find out where they store their books, whether or not they use magic markers, when the bought their first books, etc. I'm not quite that silly, but I do like to talk to people about their collections, and I'm in a position - I've just retired. I don't want to start measuring success by sales or by income, because if I do that, then it won't be fun.
BOB GARFIELD: It turns out that your philosophy and Amazon.com's are approximately the same. They don't make any money either.
CAROL URNESS: [LAUGHTER]
BOB GARFIELD: So - but, let me ask you this: there are two pieces of popular culture that spring to mind when I think about your situation. One is the Soup Nazi from "Seinfeld," who would only sell soup to customers he deemed sufficiently grateful for the opportunity, and the international cheese shop of "Monty Python" fame that had just a very, very poor selection of cheeses.
CAROL URNESS: Well, I'm certainly familiar with the Soup Nazi. But - well, it's different, because its main aim is not an economic thing. I mean, all these books are mine. I've already got one storage unit filled with books. Now I've got this wonderful little book shop here, and the books are on shelves, I can talk about them, I can look at them, I can arrange them, and that's wonderful.
BOB GARFIELD: I apologize for this question in advance, but, nonetheless, I must ask you: What kind of sorry-ass mall have you leased space in that doesn't care that you're not actually selling books in your bookstore?
CAROL URNESS: I'm in St. Anthony's Shopping Center in Northeast Minneapolis in St. Anthony Village. My lease actually reads I have to be open one day a month!
BOB GARFIELD: Well, thank you, and I wish you all the slowest business in the world.
CAROL URNESS: Thank you, that's exactly what I want.
BOB GARFIELD: Carol Urness is the proprietor of Corner Books in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. [THEME MUSIC]
BOB GARFIELD: That's it for this week's show. On the Media was produced by Janeen Price and Katya Rogers with Sean Landis and Michael Kavanagh; engineered by George Wellington, Scott Strickland, Irene Trudel and Dylan Keefe, and edited-- by Brooke. We had help from Jim Colgan and Lu Olkowski. Our web master is Amy Pearl.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:Mike Pesca is our producer at large, Arun Rath our senior producer and Dean Capello our executive producer. Bassist/composer Ben Allison wrote our theme. You can listen to the program and get free transcripts at onthemedia.org and e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is On the Media from National Public Radio. I'm Brooke Gladstone.