Bookselling in the 21st Century

by Craig Stark

5 April 2010

Part XIII: Where Have All the Booksellers Gone?

Printer Friendly Version

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The following article is an elaboration of a forum note I posted several days ago.]

I went to an estate sale this morning. The ad had mentioned an entire library/room of old books. Nice, huh? Five or ten years ago, a sale like this would have attracted numerous booksellers, and I would've had to work fast grabbing enough books to make it pay off. Today? Today I was the only bookseller there - the only one - and I had the room to myself for almost two hours. And, after a half dozen trips to my vehicle to load everything I found, my back is feeling it.

Last week I did something I almost never do anymore: I went to a used bookstore, mostly because I had some time to kill before another sale. I hadn't been to this one for several years - I'd stopped going, in fact, because I wasn't finding anything anymore, probably because so many other booksellers were grabbing stuff ahead of me? (By the way, this is the only used bookstore of any size left in the million-plus metro area I live in. Ten years ago there were dozens of them.) Anyway, when I got there, I was pleased to discover that I still had a few hundred dollars in store credit for essentially worthless books I'd turned in years back. About an hour later I left with many hundreds of dollars worth of viable inventory, having spent fortysomething bucks. To repeat - this is a used bookstore. The year is 2010.

Several weeks ago I was at another estate sale that featured not only a library of books inside the house but a "book nook" in the back yard, only absolutely nothing there was worth a darn. This time there was another book dealer there, one who has been in the business for many years and had once owned one of those dozens of used bookstores I mentioned above. Funny thing - he was buying lots of books, filling up several boxes more or less frantically, you know, almost as though he was actually finding some hot stuff. Several times I glanced over to see what he was grabbing, and for the life of me I didn't get it. What I could see of it were stinkers one and all. Several days later - this is how puzzled I was - I got on to Abebooks to check out what he'd found. (You can do this if you run a newly-listed books search.) There they were, many of the titles I'd seen at this sale, but guess what? Not a single book was listed for more than $8, and most of them were in the $4 to $6 range. More about this later.

>>>>> Article continues on next page >>>>>

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

| Forum | Store | Publications | BookLinks | BookSearch | BookTopics | Archives | Advertise | AboutUs | ContactUs | Search Site | Site Map | Google Site Map

Store - Specials | BookHunt | BookShelf | Gold Edition & BookThink's Quarterly Market Report | DomainsForSale | BookThinker newsletter - free

Copyright 2003-2011 by BookThink LLC