Have Books, Will Profit

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Got the estimate for the shop's new door. $725. A bit more than I'd anticipated but probably not unreasonable. The guy has to adapt a 40" doorway to a 36" door. Gordon, being the landlord, has final say. Maybe we'll have a sale. We have them less often and offer a smaller discount now that a fair slice of our income trickles in through the ethernet cards.

Ecommerce was pretty dismal until the last couple of days. I used to wonder why everybody who wanted to buy used books would decide to come in at 1:30 p.m. Now I wonder why everybody in the entire US is or isn't in a book buying mood. What have you all been doing the last couple of weeks that kept you from shopping online? I've been even more thankful than usual for the foreign trade. Some days citizens of the UK and Asia have made it worth opening the shop.

I can understand why academic sales are semi-seasonal (I'd never dare claim there's a real pattern to discern). The dread and happy spectres of finals and graduation have to be pretty riveting to them that face them (I never experienced either.)

But sales are on an upswing. And its pocket-warming to see $60 statistics texts go instead of the cheap paperback dreck.

I spent yesterday marking down a stack of pop music books. Back in December I bought several large boxes of Omnibus Press titles from a guy I've long known. He'd bought them from a music shop that wanted to clear them out. I paid a decent amount for the staples like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Zappa. And the sure quick sellers like No Doubt (All those boys panting for Gwen Stefani assured they wouldn't linger. We take few magazines at the shop but one week three of them had her on the cover.) There was also the deadly deadweight : Ricky Martin (even I don't want one), N'Sync and ickiness itself, Celine Dion. From a used bookdealer's vantage the problem is they are too mass market. A reasonable safe rule is the more popular something is in the mainstream world, the less likely I'll be able to rid myself of it. Give me earthworm anatomy any day (The first book we sold online was <em>The Morphology and Integuments of the Parasitic Nematode</em>.

I forgot to mention I bought multiple copies of the music books. No Doubt is gone, as is Green Day. Freddie Mercury has sold at a brisk rate. I can sell Ella and Louis out of the shop. Robbie Williams is trickling out. But the above cited folks are sitting unsold. As has the instant vanilla pudding Jewel, Limp Bizkit Verve. The last to my surprise but I don't know anything about them. A nonspecialist bookdealer continuously dabbles outside of his expertise.

I've dropped the books to $3.00. That may not be enough. As with the unwanted comic books I wish there were a machine that would conver them into something of use and value like firewood.

We haven't had luck with a big stack of a Tom Jones biography. Now back when he had a TV show he made me shudder. For the sweating hausfraus he was probably a romance cover made flesh but understanding myself better than I did at fourteen his gyrations were eveything that spooked me in hetero studliness. But I expected he'd be cool, maybe (sigh) retro nowadays. Our $8.00 copies of this $20.00 hardcover haven't sold so I'm trying $5.00. I'd rather have a stack of Alcoholics Anonymous books any day.

Today we sold a copy of an Eminem book. "In His Own Words." I guess that is why it bore a not suitable for minors label similar to what must be affixed to the unexpurgated editions of his CDs.

On seeing the Eminem books in my friend's car trunk there was a puzzled pause as I asked myself if I <em>should</em> stock them.

I remember hearing an early release of his. Sounded catchy which I attribued to Dr. Dre. Then he became famous as a misogynist and homophobe.

What he said about his wife didn't uncurl my hair. How many people fantasize about murdering their spouse but are too socially conditioned to admit it? While the ex Mrs. Em probably didn't didn't like it I can't help but coldly wondering how she felt about the attention lavished on her by sympathetic media people. And I didn't really care. It seemed a private matter gone public. Not really more novel than an episode of Jerry Springer's bread and circuses.

The accusation of homophobia was tougher. It is a problem with much rap. Not just fag but bitch this, bitch that. (Yance hates for me to play rap in the shop. He's afraid hearing "nigger" coming out of the speakers will offend our black customers. Listening to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's endless choruses of "my niggas" sometimes left me afraid that they'd cause me to unthinkingly use the word.)

I remembered Elton John spoke up for Eminem. People, particularly the ones who get paid to report and opine, most everybody really, have a hard time with subtleties. And even a pop star like Eminem can have complicated if perhaps not subtle inner workings.(I don't have the pep to go on with this paragraph. Charles hasn't slept five of the last six nights. Greatly diminishes my own sleep and clarity). Anyway I decided I didn't really know anything about Eminem and shouldn't let myself be affected by the words of the superficial and tendentious that leaked my way.

I rarely ban a book for crossing what I'll call for want of a better words, my morals. A book like <em>The Protocols of the Elders of Zion</em> isn't a problem. It might be bought by an antisemite. But I'm more likely to sell it to someone interesting in the folklore of 20th century antisemitism.

I sell an awful lot of sheet tosh that I'd regard as harmful if I thought the race improvable. Miracle diets, psychiatry, alient abductee, nonliterary Christianity, astrology, unhelpful self-help books: they are all equal in my sight.

Comments

I come here now and then to see if you’ve posted any new items in the used bookstore weblog. I find reading them quite interesting.

Any more on the way?

Your feelings?

Please share your feelings about Have Books, Will Profit.
Thanks,
Richard

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