On My Love of Brick & Mortar Bookstores - Even Though I Sell Online

Please Support Your Local Used Bookstore (If You Have One)!

What gives? I sell used books online so I clearly must be out to put your local indie used bookstore out of business, right? Absolutely not. I am a huge proponent of the physical store and cannot abide the idea that they are struggling to stay open. When I have a choice, I will always go to one of my local stores to try to find a title before I make a purchase online, honest to god.

So how do I reconcile my role in the book market if it's not to be a direct competitor to brick & mortar stores? Bookstores are for treasure hunting; I am a treasure hunter for hire.

I like to think of myself and the rest of the online used bookseller world as a means to create access to used bookstores for those who do not have one in their own neighborhood. I like to think of the internet stock as an (almost) infinitely large "back room" of the bookstore that can house any title you can imagine. The majority of the books I sell come from physical stores and are then redistributed through this secondary market.

Think about it this way: Back in 2010, Google estimated that 129,864,880 books had ever been published. Imagine how much that number increased over the last 8 years. Now factor in how many editions have been published of each title. For example, WorldCat lists 350 different editions of "Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain. If you were to walk into one of the (estimated) 23,753 bookstore in the United States looking for an 1899 American Publishing Company hardcover copy of "Huckleberry Finn" in Good to Fine condition, what do you think the chances of finding one would be? While I will never be able to provide every single version of every title ever published, I can do my small part to track down great copies.

Buy from me, don't buy from me, no worries. But please do patronize your local used bookstore if you are lucky enough to have one. And if you make any amazing discoveries on your treasure hunt, I'd love to hear about!