A friend goaded me into book hunting today. It’s almost laughable…here I am with nary two farthings to rub together and I am gonna spend them on book speculation?
See, things USED to be different here . . . like anywhere I suppose, there isn’t a book store for 46 miles – a real one anyway, not just a paperback swap (those don’t take anything more than a few years old anyway) and despite the handful of thrift shops there aren’t any ‘good books’ to be found. Online selling as we know is glutted from folks with low or NO overheads getting their hands on many many thousands of cheap books and listing them all at ridiculously low prices, so basically all the common titles aren’t worth shit. One would have to be on the look out for uncommon titles. Fair enough, but where do you look for such stuff? The region I live in was blue collar for many decades and is now only one generation of white color away. So, even if the folks value reading they DON’T buy good books, (good books: books that hold their value.) You can troll every yard sale and flea market for 10 weeks, the best you can come away with will be a few cookbooks, oprah titles, outdated text books, beaten up kids books, trade fiction and poorly made bibles . If they buy books at all, they buy them at the big box stores and the devaluate before they are even put in the bag. Oh I am not saying you won’t find a few things here and there, books migrate, but you aren’t going to find enough to justify the looking.
Needless to say, I went and looked. I figure I got a few pennies, I will take a flutter. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE trolling for books. If all the money that flows through my fingers didn’t already have someone else’s name attached to it, it’s what I would be doing just for the joy of it. What I hate is the disappointment. You lay your hands on a good title, ferrinstance I came up with a nice clean 1st of Gladys Taber’s Amber (a book about a cat, ironic, no?) only to discover that it’s worth less than ten bucks. Which means even if I DO sell manage to sell it, it will not offset the labor involved with buying, listing and packing it, and most importantly it will not offset the other books bought along with it.
Let me vague that one up for you . . . .when you BUY books, the few GOOD books in the bunch, should outweigh the other stuff you bought. You go out and scout for books (wow….deja vu…I know I have written this before, sorry) You buy 10 books – 2 are worth a damn 8 are worth damn all. So the expense for the 8 has to be covered by the profit of the 2. Yes, you can extrapolate this to mean all the books you bought over the year, the bad has to be covered by the good. As you go through life as a bookseller, and you learn your ass from a hot rock, eventually you should get to a point where you buy 8 good books and 2 bad ones, nes pa? HOWEVER with the recent devaluation of the market, my good-shit-o-meter is now useless. Where ‘I’ see 10 potentially good books, or books that USED to have value, I trundle them home to find the market says otherwise – hence the disappointment. I am back to buying 1 good book out of every five. Not only can I not afford to eat the loss, but the depression that comes from realizing your lifetime’s worth of knowledge cannot help you make a living, makes you dread even the attempt.
So, it was end of the month half price day at the thrift shop, I spent 10 dollars and came away with a few worthless books and about four solid 15 dollar books – which I promptly listed along with everyone else’s $15 books. When they eventually DO sell, they will not really cover the costs of the buying and the selling and the labor – which means I really should have put the 10 dollars into the gas tank to get me to the next job interview. (I’m averaging about three rejections a week – a personal best.)
j @ 5 am
who regrets not getting hired by the phone sex company, that would have at least given me something do with this insomnia.