Monday, July 23, 2007

Better the Second Time Around?

“Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God’s image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself…”

John Milton

After failing to pre-order my Harry Potter book and therefore receive some kind of groundbreaking discount, I was forced to run to the bookstore down the block and pick up a copy off the shelf. I know I wasn’t at the midnight release, but I assure you, I’m a loyal fan. The 20% off sticker on the cover had me thinking I wasn’t losing out too much on the crazy online deals, but my glance to the back of the book had me cringing; how could any book be $45 CAN?! I know books are pricier up North than in the States, but $45?! It reminded me why I love used bookstores and lucky for me, the popularity of used books according to Publisher's Weekly makes it look like I won't have to buy new (and expensive) books too often!

Spurred by Amazon’s choice to sell used trade books in 2004, Book Industry Study Group commissioned a study finding that “used trade books had grown into a significant market, with sales estimated at $589 million in 2004.”

Still, after finding my go-to used bookstore out of business, I have to wonder, are they sure about the success of used books? They are, of course, just not about the used books in that quaint little store on the corner with the many dusty shelves and the lazy cats lolling about in the aisles (there’s actually a shop like that here in Montreal!) The competition has gone online. The article notes that “having no online presence can be fatal in the used book market. Jackie Smith is co-owner of Acres of Books in Long Beach, Calif., which her husband's grandfather opened in 1934. Though the company stocks 800,000 titles, it does not sell online and sales have been soft. Between competition from the Web and high rent, Smith said, she is watching the traditional used book business die.”

That’s a sad idea to this particular reader. The internet is great for many things, but there’s nothing like going into your favorite little bookstore to have a chat with the owner who can recommend you something he thinks you would like. That humanity lost in the tradition of books frightens me.

Read the whole Publisher's Weekly article here

And donate your used children's books to a worthy cause!


Beccy said...

I know what you mean, I usually visit a small book store to buy my book but for the Harry Potter book I went to my local supermarket (at midnight) and brought it for the knockdown price of €10.90. It was retailing about €27.

Thanks for popping by my blog.

Anonymous said...

Growing up, I would hide in a independent bookstore and spend hours in there. When it closed, a Waldenbooks took its place and I was told by the manager that wasn't allowed it there unless I was going to buy something. Then I remembered that the downtown library was just around the corner and I was in heaven again.
You have great blog! Keep up the good work.