Monday, November 16, 2009

The One Book Bookstore

Have you ever been to a bookstore?  Of course you have, but have you been to "The One Book Bookstore"?   Who would sell only one book?   Walter Swan would, that's who.

In April of 1992, Bruce and I had taken a little RV vacation to southern Arizona.  We ended up in the small town of  Bisbee.  Bisbee is a former mining town and a quaint little tourist town now.  We wandered the streets of Bisbee looking in the assorted antique shops and gift shops.  On Main Street we came upon "The One Book Bookstore". 

That was an interesting name for a store, so we had to check it out.  Inside we found, guess what?  We found the one book that was for sale and it was titled "me 'n Henry".  We also found the author and store owner, Walter Swan.  Mr. Swan was sitting in his old rocking chair wearing his trademark black stetson and faded coveralls.  He was holding court, more or less, with all the tourists shopping in the store.  

This is the front of the book's dust jacket. (click photo for larger view)

We bought a copy of his book and Mr. Swan autographed it for us.  It reads, "Walter Swan, April 14, 1992, Bisbee Arizona".  Mr. Swan established his first store in the display window of an old J.C.Penney in Bisbee.  He sent his manuscript to many New York publishers and all rejected him.  Not to be discouraged, Walter went to a vanity publisher and paid $650.00 to publish his book of stories himself.  He took his books around to many gift stores in several towns in Arizona to see if they would sell them in their stores.  If they didn't reject him outright, they offered to sell it for 40% of the profits.  Walter didn't think that was a good idea, and not to be discouraged again....he opened his first bookstore.  

At that time, he only had the one book so he named his store...."The One Book Bookstore".   He was very successful and went on to write several other books.  He couldn't sell them in the original store, so he opened another and called it, "The Other Bookstore". 

Walter was born in 1916 and was the second son of five children born to Albert Swan and Olive Moore.  Henry was Walter's older brother and those 2 boys had all sorts of interesting adventures growing up on the family homestead in Cochise County, Arizona.   Walter's book "Me 'n Henry" is a great read with stories titled:  Money In The Ashes, Old Buck, Trapped By A Finger, The Cake And The Crochet Hook, The Wild Cow, and many more.  These are gentle tales of the old west with, according to Walter, "no bad words and is squeaky clean".

This is the back of the book's dust jacket. (click photo for larger view)

Walter passed away on October 30, 1994 and is buried in Hereford, Arizona.  Walter tried to live a good life and lived by these words:  "Always Be Kind, Have a Good Attitude, and Never Give Up".    I don't know if "The One Book Bookstore" is still open in Bisbee.  We haven't had the opportunity to return there yet.  It is on our list of things to do.  Maybe you would like to check it out for yourself someday.

Until next long for now !  


Rick and Paulette said...

Great story, Marge. I'll definitely look for that store when we're in Bisbee next April.


At present we are ranch sitting for some RV Folks just 25 minutes from Bisbee. Next time in town we'll have a look for that store:))

Jerry and Suzy said...

Al is closer - we're 45 miles from Bisbee, but we don't go there often. Been there, done that? No, we like the little town, and we like the Bisbee Breakfast Club restaurant. Just don't go there often. The book does sound familiar, though. If we find it somewhere, maybe we'll buy a copy. Thanks for the tip.

Happytrails said...

What a wonderful story! Isn't that what this lifestyle is all about...meeting the unique folks that make this country so wonderful. We will put Bisbee on our list of places to visit.

Thanks for sharing.


Full Time Rving said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing it.

Margie said...

Enjoyed reading your post. Sounds like a great little book.

Tony said...

Hello from Australia,
I was to go to visit relatives in the US in 1992. My wife was keen but I not so. Was watching an American documentary on Walter so I said "I will go but only if we visit The One Book Bookstore!"

We raced to get to Bisbee before Sunday cause I knew it would be closed. Got there and interviewed Walter. He wouldn;t stop talking!!! Nice old fella and a great historical town.

I am coming back to Arizona in three weeks for the first time since '92 so am excited. I enjoy your blogs.
Best wieshes Tony

Anonymous said...

I just happened to come across your blog and this story caught my eye. Why you may ask? Well Welter Swan was my grandfather. It is nice to know he was able to touch so many lives.

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