Library Sale Post Mortem: I Hate Stickers

I'm not overfond of the Morro Bay sale for a couple of reasons.

First, it's expensive for a library sale.
Their pricing is theoretically par for the course- fifty cent paperbacks and one dollar hardcovers.  But attached is the codicil 'unless otherwise marked', and as the years march past more and more and more books are 'marked otherwise'.

Which foreshadows my second complaint- the way they 'otherwise mark' books is by liberal application of those little round Avery stickers you often see at the more anal retentive garage sales.  It's gotten to where anything even faintly interesting is marked up, so in practical terms if I buy four boxes of books I have to de-sticker three and a half of them.  And I can also rely on getting stuck with the boss's picks as well- one of the few perquisites of owning your own store anymore is not having to mess around with stickers.

It's a minor irritation that becomes inflamed when expanded to a commercial scale.
Peeling stickers off four or five books isn't a big deal.
Peeling stickers off four or five *boxes* of books is.

And also it means you have to pay attention to the prices, which sucks.
My brain can be adjusted to different settings depending on how much books cost- there are things you're happy to get for a quarter that you wouldn't touch for fifty cents.  The 'fifty cent paperback one dollar hardcover' price is one of the standard pairings and I can sweep a sale like that in my sleep.

Morro Bay's enthusiasm for stickering throws sand in my gearbox.
In practice most of their paperbacks are a buck and most of their hardcovers are two...but not always.  So if you see the spine of something you'd take for fifty cents, you have to pull it out and actually look at the book.  It might be fifty cents, it might be a buck, or it could be more.  Hardcovers are dangerous, because they are occasionally 'Priced By Ebay'- I was stung by a $20 model train book a few years back.

So it's a sale where you have to pay attention to each book you buy, while still going flat out in the race with the other professionals.  At this sale there were three other book dealers, not including me, plus the usual bevvy of scanner Borg, which means you can count on all the obviously 'good' books vanishing in the first fifteen minutes.  Under that pressure you'd rather not have to pause and check prices.

All this whining is irrelevant because, whatever the environmental limitations, however baroque and annoying the pricing, however fierce the competition, I always find books.

Like this one, the dream of every library sale, the archetypal 'book that pays for the buy':

Player of Games is the second of Banks' marvelous (and popular, and collectible) Culture novels, and even before his untimely passing was a legitimate hundred dollar book. It doesn't look like much- I nearly mistook it for a book club edition.  It's in quite nice shape- the tips and spine ends are a bit worn, but the reds on the cover and spine are absolutely unfaded, which is extremely uncommon.  Call it a nice VG+/VG+ and figure it'd sell fairly briskly at $150.  Adding piquancy, it came late in the sale during my final pass before checking out...which means the specialist SF/Fantasy book dealer who was in attendance missed it.
A shallow and slightly bitter sort of enjoyment, but in the ever shrinking pond of 'real' used book dealers we take our small pleasures where we find them.

Unfortunately for my bottom line (and this is why it doesn't pay for dealers to be collectors) it's going on my shelf at home.  I re-read the Culture books after Banks' death and was inspired to start collecting his first editions.  From the collecting standpoint 'Consider Phlebas' is the crown jewel of the series , but this second volume is far from common.

The rest of the buy was expensive- around a hundred bucks for three boxes (compare with my last visit to the Goodwill, where three boxes set me back $16.50). But it was heavy on excellent internet titles.  I spent more time than usual at the 'specials' table, putting my phone to good use.  I spent $40 on art books that should bring in $200, and ten bucks on a set of fantasy hardcovers to get the first volume, a first edition going for $50 I expect to sell for $40, with the other volumes coming in to the shop for trade.

It'll work out fine, even with the best book at the sale gathering dust in my library.

1 comment:

woodyb3 said...

I see a "sticker removal" allowance chore in Fuss' future when he has skillz