Janna was a broad consumer of books of fiction. So it was no surprise that she entered Epimenides Bookstore. What might have been surprising is how quickly she passed by the displays, not even reading a word. She was on a mission.
She went straight to the science fiction and fantasy books, her favourites. She opened the first few pages of a book by an author she wanted and was disappointed. She tried another of his books and still no luck. The store carried none of her favourite female author’s books so she went to another female author she liked. The words Janna was looking for at the front just weren’t there.
Then she thought a bit more deeply. The words she was looking for might not be there because of the kind of fiction she was looking at. She headed for the historical fiction section. There must be a book there that tickled her fancy. She found one set in the early 20th century. She opened it up and there was her prize:
“This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.”
She took it up to the front counter. She had chosen wisely the time of day so the cashier wouldn’t be busy. Indeed the cashier was pricing books with blank pages. “May I help you?” he asked.
“Am I supposed to give you the price I wish to pay for this book?”
“No. The price is on the cover.”
“But it clearly states inside that this is a work of fiction. So I believe the price is covered under that and also is a work of fiction.”
“Well if we’re going to just pick prices at random then I venture that the price is more than the cover price listed.”
“Poppycock! Everyone knows that the price on a book is the most expensive one that you ever pay for it. If it is to change it must be down. Either as a normal sale or an out of season sale.”
“Well there is no sale. So the price isn’t a work of fiction. Perhaps the work of fiction line just refers to what happens after that line.”
“The copyright is after that line,” Janna said smugly.
“Oomph! I feel like I just got gut punched.”
“Truthfully, I don’t think I have deep enough pockets to even try that one.”
“The copyright military industrial complex is backed by many big corporations. But perhaps they would do nothing if you wrote fan fiction. That might satisfy both sides. But mostly the reason no one tries your avenue of reasoning is the mind blowing ramifications.”
“Just look at the line singly. ‘This is a work of fiction.’ If this is true then the line is a lie and it’s not fiction. Which means it is fiction. Which must be a lie…
“Ugh! My brain hurts.”
“Exactly. But this particular book is going to be half off next week if there are any copies left.”
“Thanks. I’ll take my chances next week then. I’d hide it but you might not reprice it then.”
He sighed. “Fine, I’ll reshelve it, too.”
With a simple “Thanks,” Janna was out the door.