The Plight of the Used Book Store

I never really considered the situation that used book stores find themselves in this day and age. I just got back from a real gem just down the street from our rental. They aren’t a chain, and are probably family owned and operated. They are getting by, but probably not making tons of cash. From the minute I stepped inside and saw what a neat feel the store had, I wanted to buy something (anything) as my way of saying thanks, and to allow them to keep on doing what they do. The store was almost empty, and I hoped it wasn’t their peak hours.

Walking around, the thought that kept coming to the surface of my mind is that the eBook retailers must be killing them. What can they do to compete against Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google, Apple, and others? They can’t match their inventory selection, can’t operate a retail location for cheaper overhead costs, or negotiate deals with publishing houses for volume discounts. They can compete on price of individual books however – AND THEY DO! The books I was finding were 50-75% off the retail prices of online book stores. It struck me as odd that people would rather pay twice as much for an electronic copy of the same material, when just down the street they can get a copy made from dead trees for a fraction of the price.

It just isn’t fair. Have we become so lazy that its easier to click the checkout button than it is to go down the street? I’m guilty of it myself. After getting a Barnes and Noble Nook for Christmas a few years back, I’ve been disappointed at how the savings of eBooks over printing paperback books has trickled down to the consumer. Hint: It hasn’t.

I happily bought four books and walked out feeling like I had done the right thing. I wish that shop had an answer, but I don’t see how they can come back from the current situation. The one angle they have to compete mitigated by human laziness. I have a feeling Morrigan won’t be seeing too many book stores when she is my age…


1 Comment

  1. Keldog says:

    I love non-chain book stores, most of them are truly unique places with good, knowledge employees, and often quirky owners who are actually present in their business’ day-to-day. I love the smell, the welcoming atmosphere and the hunt for a good book in the stacks.


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