You’re dead to me

I’ve always enjoyed going to used book stores. Back in San Antonio where I grew up there was a Half Price Books on Broadway that was built into an old two-story house. With every wall covered in shelves, the hallways and rooms were a tight fit to go in and out of. It was the perfect shopping experience for a teenage reader: row upon row of musty paperbacks piled to the ceiling; creaking floorboards and hidden treasure for pennies.

Fast forward fifteen years. I still love books, but the world has changed. These days, professional eBayers pounce on rare treasures they can sell at auction to the world, which removes some of the treasure hunting aspect, and many specialty book sellers have closed shop and now sell almost exclusively online.

None of these reasons are why I stopped shopping at my once beloved used bookstores. I had to be pushed, kicking and screaming, into buying books online for one reason: I could never find what I was looking for. I didn’t know if what I wanted was in the store somewhere or not and I found this completely frustrating. Just tell me if you have it or not. Please.

Any book published in the last thirty years has either an ISBN number, a UPC barcode, or both. If used bookstores tracked their inventory it wouldn’t just please their customers (me). They could also then start offering books online, track what’s selling well, see which stores have the worst theft, and use this data to discover all sorts of other interesting information.

I shop on Amazon, for now. But, if I can search my local used book store for a book I want, I will gladly return to your musty stacks.

Comments are closed.