Sunday, September 5, 2010

In Praise of Old Books

Despite the fact that used books occupy 2/3 of the space in our store - and that used book sales support our smaller stock of new books - there's a tendency for us to blog almost exclusively about new (in both senses: new as in unused and new as in recently released) books. There are reasons for this: mostly due to our, well, quaint point of sales system and the sheer volume of secondhand books that come across the buy counter in a single day, it would be almost impossible for us to catalog every used book.*

Then, of course, there's the tendency to tout the new, the in-the-news, and ultimately for our purposes here, those books we can link to.

But, sadly (or fortunately, for those who prefer to retain some distinction between the virtual and real worlds), there are thousands of books that fall into none of those categories, most broadly those books we don't stock new for whatever reason (space is usually a determining factor), out-of-print books, remainders, etc. Thousands of these kinds of books will never make it onto our blog, even if they're in our hearts. They'll sit on our shelves, unlit by the glare of the computer screen, waiting for the winds of fate to blow someone toward them; some sooner, others later; some by chance, others by necessity.

So while we continue to sing the praises of our monthly picks, the latest work by one of our favorite authors, or the book gracing the front page of the New York Times Book Review, remember that the serendipitous charm of a used bookstore - and for the browser, the curious, the hopeful-for-happy-accidents, the reason to get off the internet and stand in a physical space overburdened with possibility in the form of books - is that you just might find something unexpected. Or something you've been searching a lifetime for.


* Changes, I'm told, are imminent; which means that soon this post will be as antiquated as our MS-DOS based inventory program.

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