Our used book buyers mostly see the same thing day in and day out: once-popular fiction, the Shipping News, old travel guides, the Road Less Traveled, and so on. We buy hundreds of books each day with confidence that they'll sell, but on some books we take a chance and hope for the best. Sure, we get excited sometimes, like when a great batch of quality cookbooks arrives, or when someone brings us all of Haruki Murakami's books in good condition. Still, used book buying is usually more rote than seat-of-your-pants kind of work.
But there's an interesting type of used book we see on occasion: cool books we'll never sell.
I got one today: After Dinner Science by Kenneth Swezey (circa 1950). The book has no dust-jacket, no blurbs; it' s not being reviewed on the radio or being pushed by Oprah; it's a "science" book, but the casual browser will never pluck this worn spine off the shelves. You can see what they're missing.
(If you can't read the copy, click to enlarge; the photo above is from the experiment entitled "Boil Your Coffee with Ice," and the photo at right is entitled "Sympathetic Milk Bottles.")
These books come in sometimes, and we have nowhere to put them: we don't see enough of them to merit a section, but they would get lost in the stacks. Mostly they kick around the counter until enough staffers have had a chortle, then they go out to the bins or the free box.
A few month's ago, there was a great book from the 1960s on professional rat catchers. And Le Petomane comes in from time to time. And there was the final Might magazine we stumbled on a while back. Want the Might magazine or After Dinner Science? First one to email me (pete at greenapplebooks DOT com) can have either or both; free if you can pick them up, $5 to ship. Really, we just want to match books to people who will love them.
Oh, and there's another Green Apple "Missed Connection" on Craigslist that works too well with today's Science theme to ignore. Is it physics or chemistry?