Used books

Wouldn’t you know it? I was expecting my new follow focus today, but I had to run out for a bit around lunchtime. Naturally the mail carrier, who never comes until mid-afternoon, was early today with my signature-required package. So it was off to the Post Office to retrieve it.

There’s a little intersection where I turn, the one with the Welcome to Blaine sign. You know the place, right? Nothing on two corners, a Shell station on one, and a funky little structure on the other? Yeah, that funky structure. Does it still have a windmill on it, so that it looks like it had been transported via cartoon from Holland? I didn’t notice. I remember when I moved here it was some sort of souvenir/Duty Free shop. It was vacant for a bit, and I seem to recall there was a fire there sometime. It was a place that I barely noticed, even though it was trying hard to be.

Being a gloomy day off the Strait of Georgia, or the Salish Sea as the area is now called, the red neon OPEN sign caught my eye. Well, look at that. It’s a used-book shop. I stopped in for the first time in the six years I’ve been here, and picked out five books; three Heinlein, a Clarke, and an Asimov. For a dollar each. Not bad at all.

The thing is, who drives on that road? Locals. Generally, the locals don’t seem to strike me as the used-book type. There are a lot of oldsters and a lot of blue-collar workers, and not to many younger people or older ‘scholarly-looking’ people like I saw in L.A. or like I see in Bellingham. But who knows? Maybe the retirees are voracious readers, and the workers carry a bit of light literature with them to the refinery or wherever. You can’t tell a book by its cover, right?

But still… It’s not really a high-traffic road. I wonder how long the book shop will last?

There’s a small used book store just down the street from me, and like yours it really does not seem to be in a very good location. It’s been there as long as I’ve lived here though, which is going on 4 years now.

I’ve never been in, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone go in, so I don’t know how they stay in business. My buddy suggested it’s a front for selling drugs or something… I dunno it seems plausible I guess, it’s not really the best part of town.

Get back in there and buy up as much as you can before they go out of business.
That’s my one shopping weakness-used book stores.

I like the idea of used bookstores, but they are always way too expensive. I’ve been to several that charge half of cover price, regardless of condition. Hell, Amazon usually charges 2/3 of cover price for new books. I think the only thing worth buying from brick and mortar used bookstores is maybe some mass-market paperbacks, especially if you burn through them fast.

Anyway, I stick to library books sales. Never anything over $2, and most stuff is just a buck. I’d still go the store to browse, though. You never know what you’ll find.

Half the cover price for recent used books is about right, really. It’s pretty much the industry standard. Some places, maybe most places, will have clearance racks where there’s a deeper discount.

I always head to the clearance rack first. I’ll read a book, or try one out, if it’s only a buck or two, that I’d pass up if it’s new or half price. In some cases, I find new authors that I will buy new.

At any rate, used book stores usually can’t AFFORD the rent in locations with great traffic. Anyone who wants to save money on books needs to look for the little places, the old houses that have been converted into book shops.

Maybe the store is a front for something else? Perhaps a way to launder money? Or something else.


As for used books I love books but they are too expensive, especially since I live in Chicago with a great public library system. They usually have sales.

I often go in at 8:30pm (the libraries close at 9pm) and try to buy books. (Most of the libraires have a shelf of used books for sale in additon to their semiannual sales.) So I grab a book and try to buy it and the person behind the desk, more often than not says “Oh I’m done counting my cash drawer, just take the book” :slight_smile:

Bellingham has had a dislike for science fiction ever since Niven and Pournelle launched a Project Orion type spacecraft from there in Footfall, incidentally nuking the city to smithereens in the process.

I regularly drive out of my way to visit a Half Price book store. I sell back some books I have read, browse for an hour or so, then buy some more books.

…Damned dirty ELEPHANTS!!! (re. Polycarp)

I’ve started selling used books in my store at €1 each. They weren’t moving any more, now are going a bit quicker with new price.

I’m retired with Social Security and a couple of pensions. I’d love to rent a little storefront and stock it with books, a couple of comfy chairs, a cat and a coffee pot. I wouldn’t need to make a profit, just enough to pay the rent and utilities. Maybe that’s what the bookstore owner in Blaine is doing – it might be just a hobby, something to do. Sounds neat.

Yeah, if the whole stock is a buck apiece, hit that like the fist of an angry god…


You can have the cat OR the coffeepot. Can’t have both, the Health Department doesn’t like cat hair in the coffee. Hell, neither do I, but fortunately I don’t have the HD inspecting my home.

Go with two cats. Two cats are always better than one.

You want to know the really freaky part? Those books. Take a closer look at them.

The Electron’s Retreat by Isaac Asimov, 1959
Another robot detective story featuring Elijah “Lije” Baley

Star Wish by Heinlein, 1957
A sequel to his Hugo winning 1956 Novel, Double Star

Falling through Andromeda by Arthur C Clarke, 1958
A novel of Interstellar colonization

Try to look those books up on any database. They don’t exist. But why would anyone go to the enormous trouble to print obvious fakes of novels by famous authors, and even make them look “used”?

My guess is that when you go back to this store, you’ll find a building that has been abandoned for many years, showing no signs that it has ever been a bookstore.

You dirty cheapskate! I even run up fines on my books to boost their coffers, and you are taking books for free! I’m shocked, I tell ya.

Clearly, you had stumbled into an Alternate Timeline, where those authors had indeed written those books.

Heh. I need to swing by both my local and regional branches…it’s time to donate again. They used to have jars for donations, but now I have to stand in line and wait to give my money to a person, who is always pleasantly surprised and very appreciative.

There is a used bookstore near me that seems to be a repository for the very scholarly books belonging to professors retiring from Dickinson College. I can’t afford to buy them; those things are expensive! But I still enjoy looking to see what they have, and most of their non-scholarly books are actually pretty reasonable. I’m sure that the scholarly books subsidize the non-scholarly ones.

Don’t blame me I’m willing to pay the library for the book, it’s the lazy checkout clerk who doesn’t want to recount her drawer


You probably just skip straight to the punchline of jokes too, eh?

Never trust anybody from Isher! (At least they’ve stopped selling weapons…) :wink: