Bubba’s memories, priced to move

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Bubba’s memories, priced to move

Stop thinking about tomorrow ― you want to buy the new Bill Clinton memoir today. And Chris Chiavetta wants to sell it to you.
Go to Mr. Chiavetta’s bookstore, up and over Hooker Hill and a two-minute walk past the mosque, and you’ll pay only 29,740 won ($26) for “My Life.” That’s only a few thousand won more than if you ordered it from Amazon yourself and waited a patience-testing three weeks plus for it.
Then again, you may not need to buy “My Life,” because your Korean boss, after you told him you were a big fan of Bubba’s, already bought it for you from the Kyobo bookstore in Gangnam. In that case, Mr. Chiavetta will shower you with derision, for free.
“I promise you, he paid way too much,” he’ll laugh, then go to his computer and confirm that Kyobo sells the 900-page tome for 41,960 won. “And look here ― if you buy it from Yes24 [a Korea-based online bookseller], it’s 45,770 won.”
Of course, Mr. Chiavetta’s store, What the Book (whatthebook.com), has much more to look at than a computer and stacks and stacks of new and used books. Remember, it’s just steps away from Hooker Hill and its umpteen juicy bars, so alluring women in alluring outfits saunter past all the time, presenting constant temptations. So what does Mr. Chiavetta think of Mr. Clinton?
“I like Clinton a lot,” he’ll say. “I voted for him in 1992, which was the first presidential election I was old enough to vote in. I’d vote for him again if I could.”
And what does he think of the book?
“To be honest, I haven’t read it yet,” he’ll say, then explain that he’s waiting for a customer to sell him back a used copy. “When one comes back I’ll hide it under the counter, then take it home.”
As for this year’s election, Mr. Chiavetta, who hails from the battleground state of Florida, is going with the Democratic candidate, as he’s not a big fan of George W. Bush. In fact, he acknowledges that he’s more an “anybody but Bush” voter than a John Kerry backer.
Mr. Chiavetta puts Mr. Kerry’s chances for victory in November at about 60 percent. He’s unsure whether the new running mate, John Edwards, will help: “Come back to me in a month on that one.”
To throw Mr. Chiavetta a curveball ― and by the way, he’s a big baseball buff ― ask him what’ll happen if Mr. Bush changes his running mate, say, to Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice: “With Powell, Bush would win for sure. But with Rice, I don’t know ― there’s something about her I don’t like.”
Ms. Rice is in Seoul today, getting her diplomacy on with President Roh Moo-hyun. So if she reads this, she’s welcome to call What the Book at (02) 797-2342 and ask Mr. Chiavetta what he means. And if she hasn’t read “My Life” yet, she can commandeer an embassy car to take her to Itaewon to pick up a copy. Because it’s doubtful that her boss bought her one.


by Mike Ferrin

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