2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 0 books toward her goal of 39 books.

Monday, July 13, 2009


After all my mishaps on my first day, I was seriously wondering about what I had gotten myself into!!!

Predictably, I had some major battles with the insurance company - since secondhand books are very difficult to assess price-wise - they wanted to give me .10 cents per book that was damaged - which was ridiculous (I won't even mention to you how HIGH my insurance premiums were because of a) the neighborhood (which has a reputation for fires b) because I was right next door to a restaurant and c) because insurance companies DO NOT like to insure used bookstores (as a matter of fact, I had a heck of a time finding one that would).

We ended up arguing for weeks and going back and forth until they came up with a somewhat better (still ridiculous) offer plus they offered to replace my carpet.

Next, they wanted to know how many books (exactly) were damaged. This was also incredibly ridiculous as a request since, as you may know, when books are on a shelf and they get hit with water, they bloat and basically merge into the next book - we used a crowbar to remove the books off the shelf and they would come off in large chunks - we also had to put them in green garbage bags and put them in the garbage because wet, dirty books are non recyclable!

We counted 203 garbage bags!!! I really regret not having taking pictures of all the bags - stacked up in the back yard - it was sad and felt a little bit like Ripley's..... Finally, after what felt like months of bickering, I got my money!!!! and my new carpet which looked very nice in the store.

I thought I had seen the end - but over the course of the 4 years, I would have ANOTHER water damage (in the exact same manner) AND a fire!!! But I thought I would share, with you today, some good things about owning a bookstore.

One of the very best things about owning a used bookstore (as opposed to a bookstore that sells new books) is the hidden little gems that I have found over my 4 years at the store.

Yes, one of my favorite parts was ALWAYS when a customer would walk in with a box and say "I have a box of books to sell or give away". Usually they wanted to sell the books, but sometimes, they just wanted to leave the box with me for free.

What was a little odd about that was that usually when people were selling their books, the books were average in terms of resale value or rarety (is this even a word?) but often, when people just gave me books, the box ended up being full of great little treasures. There is no better feeling than opening up a box - all those great books to discover and they are all MINE!!! MINE!!! MINE!!! (he! he!).

Contrary to what some of you might think, these boxes rarely contained "precious, rare 1st editions", but that was fine with me as I dealt mainly with bestsellers and various other types of used books. However, over the 4 years I was at the store, I did manage to snag a few rare books and these included:

- Two gentlemen came into the store on a rainy, summer day, after telephoning me asking me if I was interested in Nancy Drew books. Since I do have some young clients who liked the Nancy Drew series, I told them to come on in. Usually, I just sell the hardcover version of this series for $2.00 each or something like that - because, of course, they are not collectible because of the later editions. Well, these gentlemen arrived with a box full - and as I opened the box, I realized that these books were ALL 1st editions WITH intact dust jackets. Of course, I tried to keep myself from squealing - there was a total of 14 books - all in excellent, excellent condition. The guys told me they wanted $40.00!!! no sooner had they finished their sentence that the $40.00 was in their hands. They left totally happy and I cannot even begin to tell you how thrilled I was.

Of course, selling these precious books in my bookstore was out of the question as I did not have the market for it. So, I sold them on Ebay for a lot more than $40.00. But I also loved, loved having these books in my hand. The dust jackets were beautifully done and the books themselves were older than I was (and in better condition!!!!). I love the feel of books, but I think there is something magical about touching a book with so much past history.

Another great "find" happened to be in a box full of Harlequin romances. Surprinsinly enough, Harlequin romances were actually HUGE business for me as I had a very big seniors home a few streets away - and these ladies were always looking for Harlequin romances. So many of them told me that they never learned how to read when they were younger, so they learned by reading Harlequin (these types of stories were priceless to me and I heard tons and tons of these while at the store). So, I just took a quick peek into the Harlequin box and offered the seller a few dollars - which she took and left. As I was pricing the books, I saw a lonely little hardcover book at the bottom of the box and was annoyed - I do not buy hardcover fiction as it does not sell at all. I picked it up and it looked in great shape (no dustjacket though). It turned out to be a 1st edition of Hemingway's "For whom the Bell Tolls" - needless to say I was beside myself. I was even afraid to touch it - but, here again, I HAD to open it up and touch it.....such history.....

These are two of the "finds" that really stick out in my mind. I came across lots of cool little things while searching these boxes, including great blank journals (a personal favorite of mine), bookmarkers and lots more.

Of course, I also came across some pretty gross stuff like books that had cat urine on it (disgusting), dust bunnies, family photos (tons and tons of these over the years), some books even had a few dollars inside (unfortunately I never found a book with lots of money tucked into it), although the previous owners once told me that they found a book with $100.00 inside of it.

This was definitely one of the best parts of owninga bookstore!!!!!

What great "finds" have you made throughout the years, searching for books? at sales, auctions, etc?


Kathy W said...

Wow how neat to have found those little gems. I have never found money in books but have a couple times found peoples library cards they used for bookmarks and forgotten to take back out. Once I found a guys drivers license.

bermudaonion said...

You did find some treasures! Did you keep For Whom the Bell Tolls or sell it?

Tina said...

Yes Bermudaonion, I did decide to sell "For Whom....". I sold it on Ebay and it went for a nice little amount of money.

I am not a big book collector - so to me, it was more logical to sell it and have someone enjoy it.

As a bookseller, you can't get too attached to your books because eventually - you end up selling them anyway :)

Donna said...

Great stories, Tina. Selling those treasures would be a problem for me! I'd want to keep them for sure.

Kathleen said...

This is great, keep up these posts, they are very interesting! I feel so bad that you lost so many books. I love little used bookstores!

avisannschild said...

I'm so glad you decided to write a series of posts on this, Tina! Wow, over 200 garbage bags, that's heartbreaking! I once visited a secondhand bookstore with a friend and for some reason the owner showed us one of his finds, which was a book published in the 16th century (or something like that). It was amazingly old and in fairly good condition. I can totally see why you would feel like there's something magical about touching a book with so much past history. (Not that the book owner let us touch his book, but seeing it was pretty amazing!)

Libby's Library said...

Oh how I wish that there was a used book store close to my home! I hate having to go into the Big City. Had a wonderful little store near me, when I lived in Florida and oh how I miss it! The husband gets flustered every time I go back to visit. We always seem to have to buy another piece of luggage so that we can bring home all the "must have" finds
when I visit the Book Bazaar!

Serena said...

wow what a great story...thanks for sharing these benefits of owning a used bookstore

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