books: An Amusing Sale

My favorite sale this week was a generic bestseller that is reliably worthless online- the sort of thing you don't bother checking because you know you're going to fine one penny copies lined up to the horizon, which is why selling it tickled me pink.

I sold a hardcover copy of Clan of the Cave Bear for nine bucks.

*drops mic, strides offstage*

*realizes he hasn't explained why this is interesting, returns sheepishly from the wings*

I picked it up in a thrift store because it was in flawless condition.  There are a billion copies out there and in the course of personally inspecting a few hundred million of them I'd never seen one this sharp.  It was the original edition, not the anniversary reprint, and it looked like someone had bought it new in 1980 then boxed it up and stuck it in their attic, unread.

It whispered to me, attempting to override my natural bookseller disdain for anything printed in the millions. I checked to see if it was a 1st, which would have made the decision simple- nope, a later printing.  So I hemmed and hawed for a while before bowing to the inevitable.
When in doubt condition is the tiebreaker and this book was  perfect.

So I brought it in to the store for trade, hoping the boss would take it off my hands but he (predictably) demurred- calling it a dime a dozen book wildly understates its ubiquity in the junk shops, thrift stores and swap meets of the world.

Having bought the thing however I'd become responsible for it, rather like aphorism that saving someone's life makes you responsible for them ever after.  Tossing out out not being an option I decided to list it and see what happened.

As expected there was a phalanx of penny copies in junk condition. I kept scrolling through, and scrolling through, and scrolling through....I finally hit a VG copy for $4.95.  Kept scrolling, kept scrolling, kept scrolling.  The cheapest legitimate Fine copy (not ex-library, not missing its DJ, not 'Like New' oh except for the mold on the text block...) was twenty bucks.

And also, nobody was going to pay $20 for a clean but otherwise unexceptional copy of such a common book.  But under ten bucks?  There was a chance.

So I listed it, playing up the condition with a completely over the top (yet accurate!  the book was perfect!) description.  And stuck it on the shelf.

That was a couple of months back, and last week while pulling old stock to make room for new I came across it, shook my head at my mistake and added it to the 'out' box.

Then this morning it sold, illustrating another truism of internet bookselling- if you have the space, just leave stuff on there because you never know.

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