Thanks, Pete – that’s exactly the kind of reaction I was hoping to elicit (at least from those few readers not frightened away by the length of the post).

I’m struck by your word “fossick,” which my dictionary (Merriam-Webster Collegiate, about 30 years old) characterizes as Australian dialect. The first definition given is to search for gold by picking over the abandoned tailings; thus, by analogy, to search by rummaging through. This is the perfect word for what I do, both in and among books. I can’t tell you how many great books I’ve found, both in used bookstores and in large libraries, by fossicking.