A sad commentary on the state of book selling

He’s got a good history selection but not so much on science fiction.

If you want to see a really good selection of classic science fiction you have to take a trip west. There’s a book dealer at the Clarence flea market who has a really nice sf selection. And so does Old Editions bookstore in North Tonawanda. The Book Corner in Niagara Falls also had a good sf section but he’s closed so many days, it’s hard to shop there.

My wife gets the sf these days. I look for nonfiction.

Syracuse has two stores across from each other on James St. with decent sf: Books and Melodies and a non-related Books End. Canandaigua’s Paperback Place is probably better, though no nonfiction to speak of.

The problem with talking about used bookstores unless they’re gigantic is that their usefulness depends greatly on what you’re looking for. And hardly anyone can speak knowledgeably about those outside their region. Heck, Canandaigua is a long and uncomfortable drive for me nowadays and that’s 35 minutes.

I’ve been there. I used to go to a conference in one of the hotels nearby. I bought some copies of Galileo there.
Is Brattle still open? I went there 50 years ago and got some of the Jules Verne books ripped off by publishers in the US in the late 19th century.

I live within walking distance of that place. Just down the street from the Half Priced Books I mentioned. The annoying thing is that the Barnes & Noble closed due to competition with the Borders in the Hub which closed very soon thereafter.

The book store mentioned in your second paragraph probably stays in business through Amazon and other online platforms, both by selling on it, and ordering hard-to-find books through it and reselling them there.

After the sale was over I got an email saying that they had so many leftover books that the outfit contracted to haul them away couldn’t handle the load, so people were invited to come in and take all the ones they wanted for free.

I think we’ve hit peak used book.

Yep. The original building it was in burned down several years ago, but the re-opened right away next door. The original site is now a mostly open lot, where the bring out rolling bookracks for sale. I go there often when I’m in Boston, and still find stuff that’s worth it. A few months ago I picked up several volumes of The Anchor Bible and a copy of Martin Gardner’s More Annotated Alice (the second edition of his Annotated Alice, which would eventually go to a more complete third edition. But the second edition is the only one to feature illustrations not by Tenniel.)

I first started a collection old (not necessarily first edition) Arthur Machen books when I was in college. A bookstore in Westwood Village (that later had to move a few blocks down on Wilshire due to skyrocketing rents) would order books for patrons. It was called A Change of Hobbit and was mostly sci fi and fantasy (I had a chance to buy an original tribble once but still kick myself for not doing it). The owner was a woman named Sherri – blanking on her last name – and I used to be so excited when she’d call and say she’d found another book for me.

But now, as @Sitnam says below, it’s so much easier to find books online.

I do treasure the memory of walking into a used bookstore around the corner from the Nuart theater with The Great God Pan on my mind and finding the book containing it on the “new arrivals” shelf. The owner had just a few days before returned from a buying trip to England. It felt magical. Not like online buying is now.

ETA: Just googled – Sherry Gottlieb.

I grew up in West LA. I remember A Change of Hobbit. A legendary shop.

King’s in great, but it’s a destination, rather than a pop-in-and-browse kind of place.

I call that technique “reverse shoplifting” and have been contemplating it myself.

Just past the counter at Brattle is the humor books section so it’s the first place to look at. The one time I was there, I saw an entire shelf of P. G. Wodehouse biographies. I owned a couple but they seldom pop up. I blew $100 on ten. They appeared to be a collection from someone who had done a Wodehouse biography, indicated by the fact that one of them held a letter by a second biographer who included a listing of mistakes in the new biography of a third.

If anyone here knows of someone writing a new biography of Wodehouse, I have some stuff they’d really like to see.

The Central library downtown currently has four tables of used books selling for a dollar a bag.

I’ve never been to the LA one but I’ve been to the Berkeley one (The Other Change of Hobbit.) My thought was that if I could get what they were charging for mediocre paperbacks for the books in my collection, I’d be rich.
Baird Serles had a SF shop in the West Village. (He was the SF reviewer for WBAI and F&SF.) It still lives, but it was 100% comics when I stopped in. Nothing of interest to me at all.

A couple of upbeat notes on the state of book selling in the Boston area:

In the past year two area Barnes and Noble stores got kicked out by their landlords – the one on Route 1 North in Saugus and the one at the Prudential Center in Back Bay Boston itself. The former was alarming to me because it’s the one closest to where I live (and all other boom stores nearby are gone), but the latter is particularly galling because it is one of only three non-college new bookstores that I know of in Boston. And, ever since the Pru opened around 1970 there has been a large bookstore there.

A new bookstore opened near the Saugus location, in Lynnfield. An Amazon bricks-and-mortar bookstore. It closed recently, too after only being open a couple of years, the end of their experiment. They didn’t have a huge variety, no local authors, and no sale books.

Well, new bookstores are going in to take the places of the ousted ones. Harvard Books of Harvard Square is putting in a branch at the Pru. And Barnes and Noble (which had said that it was going to return) is opening a new store in the same mall that the Amazon Store was at. It would be justice if it went into the same location. It will be the first bookstore put into a newly-erected mall that I know of (aside from the Amazon store) and one of the few in a new “Lifestyle Center” mall that I’ve seen.

I know the names are similar, but are they related at all? I know Sherry established A Change of Hobbit, but I never heard of her being associated with the Berkeley one.

The Wiki entry says that Sherry encouraged it to open and offered the name, though she did not have a stake in it.