Thursday, May 27, 2010

"What Are You Looking For?"

Not a day goes by that someone doesn't phone or email wondering what kind of books we buy and trade. The short answer: books we can sell quickly that we don't already have fifty million copies of. Thus: recent fiction, recent higher-end nonfiction, recent murder mysteries, recent science fiction and fantasy, and enduring literary classics (Huxley; Orwell; Hemingway; Hesse; Vonnegut & etc.). Plus anything that we are currently ordering in new copies of (Steig Larsson; Malcolm Gladwell; Thomas Bernhard; Zadie Smith; Hunter S. Thompson, etc.). The new book wall in the front room is a convenient Cole's Notes of the kind of books we'd like to see every day, and we always try to add a little extra when new books originally purchased from us are returned for credit or cash.

That said, certain kinds of books are never good candidates for trade or resale: worn or damaged books; most debut novels; stuff widely available on the bargain tables at Chapters and Book Warehouse; books that everybody's book club read 3-5 years ago (Camilla Gibb; Miriam Toews; recent Michael Ondaatje; Sue Monk Kidd); books on topics that our customers don't care about (sports biographies; travel picture books; manky mass-produced kids' series (Animorphs; Goosebumps), spiral-bound cookbooks; diet books; textbooks, etc. Plus most bestsellers that you can buy in an airport bookstore or at Costco (Dan Brown; John Grisham; Danielle Steel; Stuart Woods).

In general, we only buy and trade books that we know we can resell. That way, the shops are always full of recent and interesting titles, and you don't have to wade through thousands of mediocre or badly dated books to find the good stuff.

Our trading policy is largely identical to our buying policy, except that you receive a higher rate for trade credit, based on how quickly we think your books are going to sell. Unlike most other book stores, our trade credit doesn't expire, can be used at either one of our stores, and doesn't have to be combined with cash. That said, trade credit can't be used to purchase new books (everyone, even the staff, pays cash for them), and material that is being offered for trade has to meet a basic common sense test. (Eg., a box of John Grisham and Stuart Woods pocket books never equals a bag of used Bukowskis, Murakamis, Fantes and recent graphic novels).