You may have, two Sundays ago, read a piece in the NYT called “Bargain Hunting for Books, and Feeling Sheepish About It.”  If you haven’t, go take a second.  Perhaps you will have the same reaction I did, which is to say, you’ll feel slightly peevish, read it again, and still be peevish about it, but not have the ability to say WHY you feel peevish, just know that something about it is irritating and feels wrong.

Well, lucky for you, on Shelf Awareness today there was a link to a smart, well-written, concise blog post that explains exactly why you/I felt peevish, and pokes its fingers in every hole of the article.  I give you: “Bargain Hunting for Books, and Being Confused About It” from The Regulator Bookshop, which is also being added to my reader and blogroll by virtue of being a very good blog.


1 comment so far

  1. Amy on

    A number of thoughts:

    1. Books don’t go bad, unlike rotten meat.

    2. It did peeve me that Streitfeld blew off the amount you pay in shipping as not worth mentioning. There’s many a cheap-looking online thing I have e-walked away from after adding up the actual total cost. The low profits are also why I haven’t ebayed so, so many things junking up my closet.

    3. Moving on to the Shelf Awareness piece: I wish I knew more about the inner workings of USPS than I do (which is more than most people, as I do all the shipping for my company), but I have always figured that if you were concerned about the carbon footprint of anything you’re going to ship, the USPS would probably be the best way to go. They have planes and trucks running around the country every day whether they’re carrying 7 boxes of mail or 27. I think of it as your mail taking the public transport of shipping. No matter how many people buy a ticket in Allentown, the bus to New York Transit Autority is still gonna run at the same time, and I’m not significantly increasing the carbon footprint if I go along for the ride. (This is not at all to say that mailing is better than buying local, or that carbon taxes would not make this more impractical.)

    4. I really expected this to be an argument against buying used books, and I was preemptively angry about that. I’m fond of used books. They have character, I feel like I’m giving them a new home, and it means they don’t need to cut down another tree and produce another copy of the same book, because I can just read one that somebody else doesn’t want anymore. And I think a lot of the modern hippies who are jumping on the Support Local Businesses train are also the kind of people who appreciate thrift stores and reusing clothing and housewares, so why not books?

    5. I would really like to see an indie bookstore with a hip, up-to-date website host a civilian-to-civilian used book listing and take a listing/transaction fee, like what Amazon’s doing but on a smaller scale. I would be willing to list my rehomable books on a website where I’d be sharing my proceeds with a local shop instead of an internet giant, and no money or books have to change hands until we knew that somebody actually wanted what I’m trying to sell. Of course, you would still have to wait for the book to be transferred. Thoughts on that?

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