Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Used Bookstore

To make room for our Korean, we spent the weekend clearing out closets and emptying bookshelves, ending up with dozens upon dozens of books.  So, I headed to the used bookstore for an encounter with what must have been the inspiration for The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy.

"Do you buy books?" I asked, thinking it was a stupid question.  After all, where else would they get their inventory?

"Well we don't really buy books," he said, looking up at me, while tilting his head down.

What followed was a ten minute explanation of the bookstore's purchase for credit program, wherein the seller of said books may offer their goods for store credit, equal in value to no less than half the store price of a previously owned and pre-read book, so long as the previously owned book is sold at a 50% discount on the original cover price, and credit cannot be combined for multiple purchases.

"Um, okay," I said, my head spinning.  "I've got some books for you."

"We're not taking any books."

"What?" I said, while the store's credit policy repeated on a loop in my head.

"We're well stocked.  And we're not doing all that well."

"Why didn't you say that when I first came in here?"

He groaned.  "It's our policy."

"So you don't want any of my books?"

He sighed.  Irritation dripped from his pointy beard.  "What have you got?"

"I've got fiction, non-fiction, hardcover, paperback.  You name it.  I've got it all."

"What?  A box?  Two?"


"Well, you can bring in A box.  I'll look through it."

This didn't seem promising, but I'd come all this way.  I was walking out of there with some store credit, so I picked the best looking box of the bunch, certain that when he saw what I had, he'd demand all the rest.  He ran his hand over the lot pretty quickly, setting aside a Spanish-English dictionary and one other small paperback.  Taking the two books over to his computer he spend the next several minutes staring at the screen, while I waited patiently.  Then, he started staring at me, with haughty eyes.  Was he waiting for me to say something?  To ask for help?  Had he forgotten I was the one he was waiting for?  I stared straight back.

Perhaps a mistake.

"I can offer you credit on these two books," he announced.

Only two?!  Out of the dozens I had carefully packaged and transported.

TWO?  For a measly half-credit on the store reduced price of 50% off the original cover price but limited to a cash only purchase not to be combined so I still have to shell out money from my own pocket?

"I mean," he offered.  "If you want I can look through your other boxes.  This didn't take long."

I mulled it over for about half a second and started nodding.

"Tell you what," I said.  "Give me my two books back."

He shrugged and handed them over.  I donated all my books to the local library, to be enjoyed by the masses free of charge.  And I get a lovely tax credit.

Not surprised the used bookstore isn't doing so well.


The Happy Whisk said...

It's too bad they make it so hard. We have one place here that charges a buck for each book donated, but then gives store credit for it at the same time. Very weird.

Holly Ruggiero said...

And he wonders why his business isn't doing well.

Jeanne said...

But how wonderful that he inspired you to write about him! Great job of retelling the story!

Kristin Rae said...

I agree with Jeanne, I liked this story :)

We have a Half Price Books here that pays ok... I brought in a whole cart full of books months back and only got about $25 bucks, but it cleared off my shelf and bought dinner. I think they donate what they don't keep stocked too.

Amy Saia said...

Yeah, that's bad business. I stopped trying to make trade at our local bookstore because they were giving such low pay for really nice books. But, on the flip side I've found many great records at a low price so I can't complain. I just won't see there anymore—ebay is a much better profit.

leonid99 said...

I run an antiquarian bookshop and I know how difficult it is to give a fair and reasonable price for books that arrive through the door. I keep it simple by just paying cash for the books I want. I try not to rip the customer off nor myself. At then end of the day, the more i pay for books, the more the customer has to pay.