'Book Stumpers' and the Search for Lost Memories

National Public Radio, Weekend Edition
Saturday, January 25, 2003
Audio file

Web Service Helps Readers Recover Favorite Childhood Works

interview with Andy Bowers

Our earliest childhood memories often involve books. Drawings and characters we encounter as children can trigger deep feelings when we see them again as adults. And many of us carry around scattered memories of a few good reads whose titles we forgot long ago, and would love to find again today. NPR's Andy Bowers found a specialist in the trade. He talks with Book Stumpers founder Harriett Logan about how her business helps people succeed in their quest for lost books.

Logan owns Loganberry Books, a small store in Cleveland. Book Stumpers, which has been around for eight years, exists on the Loganberry Books Web site.

After receiving a few obscure requests, Logan began posting e-mail queries on the Internet, hoping other readers could help her recognize books from just a few clues -- often cryptic ones.

Book Stumpers acts as a sort of clearinghouse for shreds of information about old books. Participants pay a $4 fee to have their information posted. Logan also tries to find new or used copies of the books if the customers want to buy a piece of their childhoods. And if things work out, she deducts the fee from the sales price.

Logan estimates that she's received nearly 1,800 stumpers over the years, and has been able to solve about three-quarters of them.