Where have all the used-book stores gone?

meldy_nva(z6b VA)October 10, 2010

My county's population is well over 1,000,000; count in Arlington and Alexandria, and the number triples. Amid this plentitude of people, I know of only two little stores specializing in used books (one has a dozen shelves as adjunct to his new-books); neither especially local. Yes, you can find numerous NEW-book stores, and many antique conveyers who have equally antique books.... but the proprietors of the last of the local little stores which offered nothing but gently worn books retired three years ago.

I suspect rents have put many out of business, the new retirees chose to leave the business when they were advised of yet another rate increase (in 5 years, the not-insignificant cost of leasing their store had more than doubled).

I can't believe there is no demand, but there certainly are no used-book stores in my area. Sigh, it's an 80 mile trip to one in Winchester, a 50 mile trip to Fredricksburg, or a 40 mile trip to any of several in Maryland.

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We saw the last of ours go out of business a few years ago. Since then, we have learned of several places that sell used books. Our local Humane Shelter has a very large section in their thrift shop. So does the Good Will store. Various churches also have thift shops that have shelves of donated books of all types. I'll bet there are similar places like that in your area. The ones I go to, have a much better selection than our used book stores did.

Look around. You may be in for a delightful suprise!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 4:19PM
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Any indoor fleamarkets in your area? The local one has some vendors with books besides other things and the one at the county seat has a very large selection by one vendor with a couple of thousand books. When we still drove, I used to go by there about once a month, now only rarely. The fun there is finding out of print books from 30 and more years back.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 5:53PM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

You can get all kinds of used books on line, problem is you have to know what you want. The fun is browsing and finding something you want to read. We have one in our town. I finally cleaned out my books and took some to him that I know I will never read again. Didn't get much for them, he wanted to give me a credit, but I am trying to de clutter so took the cash. I have found I actually get old books cheaper at antique stores than at used book stores, because they don't know the value. But then I like books from the 1890's to 1920's. (The fault of a great uncle who sent me a box of fiction books that had been his as a young man- Zane Grey, James Oliver Curwood, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H Rider Haggard).

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 7:39PM
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It could have to do with the demograpics of the area.
Below are demographics of my city.

"More than half the population is between 20 and 54, while nearly 25% of our population is in the 25 to 34 year age bracket. The median age is 34.6 years old."

We have one "used" book-store downtown, I go there, but I don't know how it works for the young population.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 7:58PM
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Offhand, I can think of three within a ten mile radius from my house. One on Murphy (Rhino), one on 21st (Bookman Bookwoman Books), and one on Charlotte Pike (McKay's). Which makes me think there are many more, but that I don't go near them. Those are where I live(d) and work.

Come to Nashville and I'll take you on a tour!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 9:40AM
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Almost all of this trade is online. In fact, I encourage my students to buy their books that way. Also, there's a new trade line in renting textbooks.

I think the days of little bookstores with old stuff in them are pretty much history. Rent's a factor, but it could be more that many folks are not bookies and could care less. My father loved an old bookstore in downtown Philly, Leary's, but that's been gone for over 40 years. Even that long ago, it was apparent that such enterprises were becoming less viable.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 7:10PM
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We have a few used book stores.
One where you can swap books or get credit.
Our new book stores bit the dust when the economy
took a dive.

I order my specialty books on line and borrow books from our local Senior center.
My friends and I swap books also.

The Antique and junk stores are usually a great place to pick up books.
I always loved to pull up a chair in the book section of an
Antique store and just look through book after book.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 10:34PM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

demograpics: 1/3 yuppie/government/military; 1/4 retired or almost retired; 1/10th school-age; 1/3 imported (mostly legal).

I've been around to the more local of the antique and used-everything stores, and there's just not much available in books. I think it's the yuppie influence but those places that do have books, have valuable ones and price accordingly.

Local libraries have book sales at assorted intervals (the closest to me has their semi-annual sale coming in two weeks, already advertising in the Washington Post saying they will have 80,000+ books). Needless to say, folks are elbow to elbow at these sales. The prices are as good as the selection, but the crowds are horrid.

On-line doesn't let me read the first couple pages, has shipping charges, doesn't have that indefinable book scent.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 12:54PM
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nor palpable pages.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 1:05PM
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There used to be a couple of great used bookstores in Detroit. Maybe they're still there, I hope so. I used to go every couple of weeks. In fact, I still have credit at one of them if it's still in business. Also, the local library used to have a sale once a year. For $5.00 you got a shopping bag and all the books you could fit in it. What a deal!
Here in Guatemala, books in English are hard to come by. They can sometimes be found at ènewè bookstores but are very expensive. There are a couple of used bookstores that offer books in English for $3-4 per book. But there's little selection, most being of the èvacation readingè variety, traded by travelers. Now and then one comes across a book of substance and it's a real treat to find. When friends from the states come to visit and ask what they can bring, the answer is always èbooks!!!!è

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 9:20PM
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We have quite a few used book stores here in Ft Wayne. My favorite is Hyde Bros located in a very old bldg downtown....the best part is the sci-fi and horrors sections are in the basement...very fitting.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 9:55PM
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petaloid(SoCal 10a/24)

I have had good luck finding used books at thrift stores. A local Goodwill has a really big book section, and one nice charity store has good quality used books, mostly hardbacks.

For many years we had a huge used book store just a few blocks from here. As others have said, the rents got too high and it went out of business, replaced by a furniture store for which I have no use.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 10:32PM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

I was just in a wonderful 3rd generation used book store in Dayton. Don't ask me its name, I didn't even notice, but it is in the Oregon district. It is good for my pocketbook and my storage that I am 3 1/2 hours away from Dayton.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 9:01AM
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