Looking for some Vonnegut or Twain, or maybe an old National Geographic? You could go to the Brooklyn Public Library on Grand Army Plaza — or you could walk right past the door to a book-covered stretch of fence just up Eastern Parkway.
That’s where a 55-year-old man named Skibo — that’s the only name he gives, Skibo — has been selling books for 10 years, setting up shop between the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Public Library.
“I used to sleep in the park [before he started selling books], and then one morning I realized I got an office right here!” said Skibo, who was born in Red Hook, but moved to Park Slope when he was 9.
Since having that “Eureka” moment a decade ago, Skibo has been manning his fence every day, selling an eclectic mix of classics, textbooks, magazines and kids books — whatever thumbed-through tomes the neighbors drop off.
“Sometimes I don’t even see them, I’ll be doing some business and I turn around and there’s a box of books somebody just dropped off!”
Before he sold books at his current location between the library and the Brooklyn Museum, Skibo helped to build the latter institution.
“I was an ironworker with Local 40,” said Skibo. “We built the big ones all over New York City, and I even worked on the back wing of the Brooklyn Museum.”
Getting his inventory for free gives him one advantage over the library, but even Skibo admits that the massive institution to the west of his “shop” holds a distinct advantage.
For one thing, books are free at the library. And the central branch even undercuts Skibo during their regular book sales.
“I’ve always said, ‘Buy five books, get six,’ but the library says, ‘Buy 10 books, get 13.’ It’s their way of trying to one-up me, I guess.”
©2007 Community News Group
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