Not a typo, but the MV Doulos, currently berthed at Queen’s Wharf. It’s an interesting ship — built in 1914 as a steam cargo ship in Providence, RI, its first run was carrying onions from New York to Galveston, TX. After shipping along the east coast for a while, it did some time ferrying pilgrims to Rome, and then immigrants from Italy to Australia. Then came a stint as a luxury passenger liner. Currently, it’s a traveling missionary bookshop, with volunteers from all over the world.
I normally avoid Christian missionaries (or any other flavor, for that matter) like a plague of boils, but I couldn’t resist the lure of a book shop.
It has, as you might expect, racks upon racks of what I suppose I would describe as modern vanilla Protestant fiction and non-fiction. Lots of self-help-ish life affirmingness. Plenty of bibles, mostly the New International Version, in various sizes, bindings, translations (they must shift their stock around by port, because I saw a Tongan bible, but not, say, a German one), and spins (bibles “for men”, bibles “for women”, lots of bibles and bible excerpts for kids, daily message bibles, gardening bibles, whatever). I admit I was tempted by the Manga Bible. (On the cover, Manga Jesus: “Does he come to save the world — or destroy it?“)
Half the shop is childrens books, and not just churchy ones — all kinds, including some “name brands” like Disney, Dora the Explorer, etc. Lots of Narnia stuff, as you might imagine, and classics like Winnie the Pooh (all the Milne stuff, not just the Disney version). There were fairy tale collections, the Hardy Boys books… I spotted two copies of the Hildebrandt illustrated Robin Hood on special (the dust jackets were badly munged) for NZ$8.
They also have educational stuff — the NCEA standard textbooks, atlases, dictionaries, some language learning books and CDs, Hawking’s On the Shoulders of Giants (illustrated !). There were books on, say, dinosaurs (including childrens books) that did NOT insist they were put in the rock by God as a test of faith. (The “defense of Creationism” books were over in the “Bible Reference” section, with the concordances and the interpretive stuff). I went ahead and picked up a concordance, because I didn’t actually have one (Cruden’s, because it was cheap. I may have to get me a Young’s Analytical at some point…).
The balance is quite a lot of the inoffensive subset of the sort books you’d see on the sales tables at Whitcouls or Borders — heaps of cookbooks, gardening books, books on trains, horses, pets, quote-a-day, Sudoku, blank books, notecards, etc.
The prices are actually quite reasonable. All the books are tagged in “Dolous units”, so that when they reach a port, they can just post up charts showing how to convert Dolous units to whatever the local currency is — and since the prices are all rounded to the nearest 100, it’s pretty straightforward. 100 units = NZ$4.00. Most of the books looked to be under $20, and there were quite a lot that were 100 or 200 units.
I took my book over to the checkout, which was being run by a young Mongolian woman named Oogi (pronouned roughly “Oggie”). I correctly guessed from her name (most of which showed on the register screen) that she was Mongolian, and asked her to pronounce it for me. It was, alas, a tangle of consonants and not-quite-schwas that would have taken me a bit more time to get right than I had in the checkout line. She smiled at me a little wistfully and said that since no one can say it, she just goes by Oogi.
Ah well. I may go back today for another look at a coffee table book on the Sahara, and to see if they dredged up anything interesting in the nightly restock from the hold.