Used bookstores making a comeback

[Read the post]

1 Like

a bookstore with only one or two previous owners is likely still in near mint condition.


The death of the bookselling as a big-box business…

…is probably not the only factor. Underfunded and closed libraries might be another one.


Enjoy your used bookstore now kids. When the speculators see the size of the returns they get they’ll shut it down.

A few months ago I picked up a copy of The Rising Gorge in a used bookstore. I mentioned to the guy at the register that it’s hard to find S.J. Perelman. He frowned and said, “No one reads the Algonquin Club writers anymore.” I pointed out that since I was buying the book at least one person still did and we both laughed.

Yeah, it’s not just the books that make used bookstores worth it.


Were they gone? Must be weird living a country without them.

In Tucson for the extended holiday, seek out “Bookmans” for used books, periodicals, and what nots.
It’s a bookworm’s paradise in Tucson with two locals.


Not so sure the pendulum will ever “ease back” toward print–it’s certainly not happening at the moment… slowing a bit (depending on the metric you use and what types of publishing you include) isn’t reversing.


Bookstores, like libraries, are great for that ‘aha!’ moment, when you find something you didn’t know you were looking for. Browsing is something hard to do very effectively online, where so much content you might wish to own is locked behind a paywall and it’s all or nothing. Most of the excerpts aren’t even as indicative as the cover blurbs you used to get on paperbacks. Online stores in regards to secondhand books are best when you are searching for a particular thing, rather than looking for something random to enjoy.


By an odd coincidence, my favorite used book store around here is in a Barnes & Noble store. My second favorite is in a library.


The crew in south Austin’s Half Price Books can spot me a mile away. Oh lookout it’s the crazy lady who buys up all the used copies of Neal Stephenson’s stuff… again.

Well, yeah. I mean, what else to do for birthday gifts?

Used books are so nice in so many ways. They age gracefully, never asking for replacement batteries, an OS update, special protection, tender handling including being kept out of the hot Texas sun as it lies out in the backseat of my black un-air-conditioned car. I’ve had one nice note left on my windshield under my wiper blade from a fellow Terry Pratchett fan who must have seen my copy of Hogfather on my dashboard.

And don’t get me started on used audio books…

; )


My favorite line from 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff:

“I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to “I hate to read new books,” and I hollered “Comrade!” to whoever owned it before me.”

And my spouse goes to a lot of dog agility competitions. They have a program called “Live to Run Again”. It’s an audio book library for people traveling alone so they have something to listen to while driving. It was started after a competitor fell asleep at the wheel and had a terrible accident.


Not in the Bay Area. They can’t afford rents.

1 Like

It’s interesting to look at the resurgence of used-book stores and try to figure out why. It serves as a sort of Rorschach ink blot test for how one feels about the publishing industry. For example, people in traditional publishing want to believe that e-books are just a passing fad, because it makes Amazon seem less big and scary—and so they do.

What it really means may not become clear for a while yet.

That’s brilliant!
And here I just drove from Corpus Christi to Austin, re-listening to Anathem on CD because I wanted to stay alert. Talking on the phone while driving is ok sometimes, but not when fending off a sore throat and cold.

Kudos to your spouse. Wow. Dog agility competitions are one fascinating area of dog training. So much fascinating grist in mind-bogglingly long relationship between dogs and humans.

1 Like

I listened to five of the seven chapters of Orson Welles’s radio adaptation of Les Miserables on a recent driving trip. It helped the miles go by without taking my attention off of driving too much. has a ton of good radio stuff.


Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon is the Center of the Universe for used book aficionados. Known as the World’s largest bookstore, it covers a city block, and is, I believe, over 4 stories high, all books, new and used. It’s worth a trip to Portland just to visit them.


Just as a thing… I want to try opening a book store even with the razor thin margins. I want to do this as a bucket list thing since I’ve always wanted a book store with a sort of lounge area that could double as hosting weakly tabletop gaming sessions, a libre-box like ‘it only opens to the store’s personal server’ web interface to grab a selection of project gutenberg texts, things I’ve written, a discussion forum only accessible in store, and legally free to download things.

I want to do this because it is the kind of store I want. One that isn’t 90% romance trash and maybe 10% anything else.

However i know romance sells, especially where I live.


:+1: I would go to your bookstore.


I also want things like planning for writer’s groups, tabletop gaming sessions, vending machines near the front for things like bookmarks, pens, paper. Things you can pop in, grab, gone.

I just don’t know enough or have the resources to make it happen. I doubt i live in an area that’ll be friendly to the sort of bookstore I want (hell walmart ran hastings out and they’re another chain store that had a HUGE book collection.)

1 Like

Anecdote: Although I read exclusively on an e-reader now, I just went to a used bookstore last week after not stepping foot in one for 3-4 years. I wanted to buy a used, paper copy (gift) of book that was popular several years ago. The store had a copy, and cheap. And get this: I also bought a full-price hard copy cover of a second book that I knew my mom would love to receive in the mail, just because I was in the store and it was there.