Confessions of a used-book salesman.

I had no idea this sort of thing was going on, and yeah, I find it very creepy. I used to spend hours in used book shops in NYC, especially the Strand, and I’m amazed that shops allow this. The shops that do may sell more books on a given day, but if the shelves are looted by scanners, why will real book-loving customers keep coming in?

I make a living buying and selling used books. I browse the racks of thrift stores and library book sales using an electronic bar-code scanner. I push the button, a red laser hops about, and an LCD screen lights up with the resale values. It feels like being God in his own tiny recreational casino; my judgments are sure and simple, and I always win because I have foreknowledge of all bad bets. The software I use tells me the going price, on Amazon Marketplace, of the title I just scanned, along with the all-important sales rank, so I know the book’s prospects immediately. I turn a profit every time.

[more] via Confessions of a used-book salesman. – By Michael Savitz – Slate Magazine.

1 comment on this post.
  1. Moira Allen:

    Don’t worry about a dealer with this sort of gizmo running off with all the books. THIS savvy dealer undoubtedly knows that 99% of all the books at a thrift shop are going on Amazon for a penny apiece, and he’s going to leave them alone (a blessing for those of us who’d rather buy at the thrift shop than pay Amazon shipping prices). It’s those @&X# dealers who go to library booksales on the “$3 a box” day and just load box after box onto their dollies, with no regard for whether the books are worth anything or not, that make such sales so frustrating for actual book-lovers.

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