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Booksellers Message Board

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1plagosa Primeira Mensagem
Jul 28, 2006, 12:50am

Well, i suppose i ought to say something- i work in a rather large used bookstore. i've discovered, thanks to the volume of books we buy, that there are literally hundreds and thousands of books that just look so fascinating, surely i can make time to read them all?
it's like the scene of lucy and ethel in the laxative factory- i just keep seeing and grabbing more- to the detriment of my wallet.
what sort of stores do you work at? what are you reading now? i'm reading Don't Tell The Grown-ups, as well as Outwitting History. My favorite books are children's books- Lois Lowry, E.L. Konigsburg, and so many more.

Jul 28, 2006, 7:22am

Good group idea! I work a couple days a week at The Coffee Trader by David Liss (good historical fiction) and have started The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, a memoir just out by former bookseller Lewis Buzbee. I'll probably start something else up as well, I usually have a couple things going at once.

Jul 28, 2006, 7:23am

Whoops, the computer ate the last bit of my first paragraph. It should read "... Commonwealth Books; we have three shops in Boston of used and antiquarian stock."

4davisfamily Primeira Mensagem
Jul 28, 2006, 8:03am

I work in a large big box bookstore, and in keeping with plagosa's thoughts, the one thing I have found is to just read what I want. I have found that I want alot. I am this very moment reading Vellum by Hal Duncan.
Bookselling is fun and frustrating, I still haven't found a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by John Grisham, it does exist because her sister has one, so if you see it let me know!!! :)

Jul 28, 2006, 10:24am

Hmmm... my brackets arn't working so I'm gonna try it again. Vellum by Hal Duncan.

Ago 1, 2006, 10:26am

I work part-time in a small independent bookstore. It was supposed to support my book habit, but it seems to have increased it. When I'm helping customers, the books just jump out and tell ME to buy them.

I'm currently reading Cast in Courtlight by Michelle Sagara and Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett.

Ago 3, 2006, 11:47pm

Hi all,

I'm only watching the group for now, as I'm not really a bookseller. The closest I came was working for (owned by a high school friend of mine and his wife) for a few months. I entered books into their database for online sale, back when they only had 9000 books online and 50000 in total stock. It was fun to get a taste of the biz. :)

8plaugher Primeira Mensagem
Ago 4, 2006, 11:59am

Greetings fellow book folk. When did LibraryThing start the "group" section? Or has it been here for ages and I'm just not observant? Imagine that.

I've worked for the past six years at one of the larger antiquarian bookshops in eastern Canada, John W. Doull's. What was to have just been a quirky part-time job to help me pay my way through a disasterous run at university has turned into my addiction. Can't imagine myself doing anything else at this point.

I'm currently reading (and having mixed feelings about) DBC Pierre's Vernon God Little. Let's just say the fact that it won the Booker does not speak well about that year's crop.

JBD: I always try to get into Commonwealth (the one on Boyleston) when I'm down in Boston. Beautiful shop, with a extensive-saliva-inducing amount of scholarly stuff. I tend just to walk around it mouth agape, wishing I had a couple thousand dollars at my disposal.


9saskreader Primeira Mensagem
Ago 4, 2006, 1:44pm

Hi everyone. I actually no longer work in a bookstore, but did for about five years. Someday I hope to get back into it either as an employee or to have my own specialty store (what a lovely fantasy to return to at boring moments in my day).

The time I spent working in bookstores has been some of the best of my life. I absolutely love it--from the opportunity to talk about books all day with other bibliophiles to creating artful displays to walking up and down aisles lovingly touching the books to the *deep inhalation* intoxicating smell of new books straight from the publisher when the box is first cracked open.

davisfamily, I hear you on the frustration part - "I'm looking for that yellow book, it was on TV yesterday. What's it called? Well, I don't know, but it's definitely yellow."

Ago 4, 2006, 9:06pm

I'm also a former bookseller. I never worked in a storefront but I used to sell at book shows. Prior to that I was a book scout. Now I am a collector with a really bad book jones and a garage full of cartons of modern first editions.

I'd love to hear from any independent booksellers willing to share their take on the used and rare book market and how they have been impacted by on-line bookselling.

Ago 5, 2006, 4:55am

I work in an antiquarian shop in Boston, cataloguing for the web. Love my job. Applying for Drexel's online Library Science program - cross your fingers, if I get in I can keep working full time...

Ago 5, 2006, 2:19pm

TheBlindHog: I've been a bookseller at small town independent new/used shop since '97. The internet has helped our used book sales as it allows us to match obscure books on our shelves with far-flung customers. However, the negative impact of the net on our new book sales more than negates the increase we've seen on the used book side.

Ago 6, 2006, 5:47pm

(Message 12) Thanks, Wil. I haven't attended any book fairs as an exhibitor since 1997. The used and rare market was still very robust then (and so was the economy, for that matter). Online bookselling was largely confined to new books, through Amazon, although our kindly Uncle ABE was then a year old and gaining momentum.

Because I haven't exhibited in so long, the only perspective I get on the market now is through the prism of the internet, where it looks like prices have crashed. I suppose that is inevitable when there may be 250 dealers listing the latest offering from mainstream authors like James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, and so on.

As someone who is now a buyer and not a seller, I like the new pricing, but as a collector I am extremely disappointed to see the book I buy today for 24.95 listed tomorrow at 2.00.

To some extent, I have capitalized on the pricing trend by making online purchases, but what I have found is that about 1 in 4 books are not as described, not to mention the fact that a 2.00 book is often going to set you back $6 or $7 by the time you pay postage and handling.

What I am wondering is whether buyers use online prices as a hammer during brick-and-mortar negotiations.

Ago 8, 2006, 2:13am

to theblindhog (message 13)-
What I am wondering is whether buyers use online prices as a hammer during brick-and-mortar negotiations.

as someone who works as a bookbuyer in a large bookstore, i can say that i've never had a person use an online price to get lower prices on our stuff (we're already a half-price store anyhow though..) BUT they will try to use it as a boon when they're selling us "interesting, antique" books that they've found stuffed in mawmaw's closet. "oh, and by the way, i looked at it on the internet and it's going for 9,234 dollars." "ah." we'll say. and it turns out to be worth 25 cents, or sometimes less, but we can't offer less than 25 cents.

Ago 8, 2006, 12:40pm

Fine Books and CollectionsFine Books and Collections started a year-long series with Blue-Chip Books: What Has the Internet Done to Modern Firsts?Blue-Chip Books: What Has the Internet Done to Modern Firsts? The tag line of this interesting article is: "Since 2000, first books have appreciated by 3.5 percent per year. Not great, but it beats inflation, savings accounts, and the Dow."

As our the used dept. in our shop was more a paperback exchange than an antiquarian dealer, the internet has been an overall positive as far as used books are concerned. Not only are we able to match our scarcer books with customers around the world, but we're able to easily track down rare/OP/foreign titles that would have been impossible for us to locate pre-internet.

I'd echo plagosa on the haggling question.

Ago 8, 2006, 8:40pm

(Messages 14 & 15) Thanks for the information, Wilpotts and Plagosa. I haven't seriously thought of getting back into the book fair business but have wondered if I would have to compete with internet prices if I did. More and more, I've been trying to confine my purchases to sci-fi, historical mysteries, and first novels or fiction collections. As a consequence, I may not mind getting rid of "ballast" in the form of fairly common later titles, but not if I'd have to price them at a loss.

Ago 9, 2006, 9:36am

I'm still an active dealer, although two years ago my business partner and I closed our shop/gallery in NYC and I went private. I do four or five books fairs a year, sell on the interet (through my own site and some of the aggregators), and issue print and online catalogues to a small list of customers. I specialize, so it is easier to maintain the interest of my customer base.

The internet has changed prices, but in a variety of ways both up and down, so unless one speaks of specific books or at least fields of books, the internet discussion can only be a series of personal experiences - which is fine in itself. For me, the internet has completely killed the market for previously expensive art monographs. Books that were literally $1200 in 1990 can be had readily for $100 or $200. Good, and important, monographs that were $100 in 1990 can now sit on your shelf for years. On the other hand, there are many examples of the opposite happening with specific books in other fields, and in some cases with large swaths of entire fields (photography books). We just need to keep adjusting to the changes.

Editado: Out 15, 2006, 8:31pm

I'm not a bookseller, so I hope you won't mind the intrusion, but I wanted to alert the US booksellers on LibraryThing to a site that my husband and I started about six weeks ago, called Bookwormz. Our goal is to help consumers locate and support independent bookstores via a user-supported database. We've been online for about six weeks now and have more than 600 stores listed, with more being added everyday.You can search by zip or city/state.

The site url is:

If you do a search and don't see your store listed, you can add it yourself. No membership or registration is required. We've received very positive feedback since starting this project, and welcome any comments or questions you may have.

Although we're currently only listing stores in the United States, we are planning to include Canadian bookstores soon and will then look to expand further.

Out 4, 2006, 8:45am

I used to be a manager (a.k.a. only employee) at a used bookstore in California. I really miss it and am glad there's a store or two locally of the same ilk. A shameless plug for my favorites: Bentley's in Greenville, SC and The Captain's Bookshelf in Asheville, NC. Both are also lovely towns to visit (I live in one and hang out in the other).

Out 5, 2006, 12:34pm

Just a quick message to say "Hi, I`ve just joined your group".

My wife and I run an online rareand out-of-print book business in the UK. We are just beginning to stock a few new titles - from independent publishers etc - and also look at selling ultimately on a variety of sites.

Have a secret dream of one day running an actual physical bricks-and-mortar, but from the experience of others, that`s a good way to reduce yourself to penury.

21lategray Primeira Mensagem
Out 5, 2006, 1:12pm

Hello, all! I'm, a bookseller with a local independent chain of 3 stores here in the San Francisco Bay Area (East Bay, to be precise). I've found this work is dangerous for my book habit, as others have mentioned. The bright side is that, as a writer, I pick up books for inspiration that I never would have found out about if not for my interactions at the store. That's surely worth half my paycheck, no? :)

This week, two such titles were Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz and Madeleine Is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum. I also scored two poetry books: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and Riven Doggeries by James Tate. A red-letter week!

This is not even to mention the excellent children's books I would otherwise not be exposed to. Shaun Tan is a favorite of mine.

Good to see everyone here!

Out 5, 2006, 4:38pm

What book seller are you with? I used to live in San Francisco and on the Peninsula. I wonder if I've been in.

Out 5, 2006, 10:10pm

Hi, Just hopped on. I've been a bookseller for over 9 years at a moderately large independent bookstore. I'm reading China Mieville's Un Lun Dun at the moment (delicious Alice-in-Wonderland-like YA/Adult crossover). Just finished The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (a departure from his mystery/thrillers, this is a fairy tale! Also could be YA. I've got a stack of ARCs from the regional trade show that includes: Daniel Mason, Andrea Levy...and so on...and I just brought the latest Margaret Atwood home... Lois

Out 6, 2006, 9:17am

Sorry, I didn`t notice the "what are you reading now ?" part.

Currently - The Wrong Boy by Willy Russell. Been getting through it at a rate of knots, but having got nine tenths of the way through, can`t find time to finish it. Later this week, hopefully.

Usual reading - I collect W E B Du Bois and related authors, but choose my other reading matter for variety primarily.

Should anyone be interested, I`ve just started new groups for W E B Du Bois and J B Priestley. Anyone`s welcome to join/join in.

Editado: Out 6, 2006, 3:44pm

Just thought you might be interested - I`ve started new LT groups for J B Priestley and W E B Du Bois today. Feel free to join in our discussions if you want to.

Dez 5, 2006, 8:09am

Hi, bookselling people !

Anyone got any tips on currently unknown writers you think are destined for greatness ?

Dez 13, 2006, 11:56pm


In the mystery field, Daniel Woodrell and Jess Walter are two very good writers who aren't as well known as they should be. Jess Walter is the more mainstream. His novel Citizen Vince won an Edgar last year and this year he was nominated for a National Book Award for his post 9/11 novel, The Zero. He has authored four novels and they are all affordable. I've read two of them and they were both very good. Daniel Woodrell is a regional author and the first to write what he calls "redneck noir". He has written 8 or 9 novels and all but one still sell for less than $100 in fine condition.

Dez 26, 2006, 8:04pm


I've been wondering what to do with some of the uncorrected proofs I've accumulated. I don't have anyone to give them to; I don't think it's right to sell them; and I don't think I should just throw most of them away. Is there some avenue I'm overlooking? Am I being too picky? I've been wondering what everyone else is doing with the ones that aren't keepers.


29hlsamson Primeira Mensagem
Dez 29, 2006, 12:41am

hello, i'm new to librarything and new to this group. i've been working as a bookseller for just over three years now at a large 'chain' bookstore. it's the first job i have really loved. i guess that's all... just wanted to say 'hello' and introduce myself. :)

Dez 29, 2006, 1:52pm

I don't know how kosher this is, but one of the bookstores I used to work at had a coffee shop attached and used to have a shelf with all the proofs on it for people to look at while drinking their lattes. The secret policy was also that people were free to take them if they wished, but very few people knew that.

Jan 22, 2007, 1:56pm

I've worked part time in an independent bookshop for just on a year now. It's situated on the outer reaches of north-west Greater London.
It's a job that's come forty years too late really as I've been a bookaholic all my life!

Fev 25, 2007, 12:28am

I'm new to LT, but I've been at a big box two days a week for five years. (Love that discount!) I wish you all would tell your fun stories and provide tips on new books we could tell customers about. My best story from last week was the customer who wanted a copy of Dante's Inferno by C.S. Lewis. (By the nature of the customers we've had asking for this, I think a church group must be reading this for the descriptions of hell.)
Long live Oprah!

Fev 26, 2007, 1:00am

I worked at a big chain store for about 3 years, left for awhile, and then just recently returned. I love being surrounded by books, but the customers take some of the joy away (half-kidding). I always bought a lot of books anyway, but working at a bookstore just makes me buy more - I'm shelving or zoning or whatever and just keep finding new books I want to read.

Right now I'm reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, but I really love Shakespeare, Austen and, more recently, Dee Henderson.

Ago 31, 2007, 7:15am

It's pretty interesting working at a small (with a huge overstock) bookstore. Talking with customers helps with discovering new authors and learning about things you wouldn't learn normally. We mostly get the romance readers but I could even appreciate some of those books, the more fantasy-based ones I suppose. We're still pretty small, mostly rely on what customers bring in for discount credit, occasionally good things come in, right now I am attempting to read The Double by Jose Saramago. Always a fun experience and everyday is unpredictable. The staff is my second family, and I couldn't be happier.

Nov 18, 2007, 6:28pm

#5 Let's see if this works Vellum: The Book of All Hours.