Monday, August 08, 2005

New vs. Used books

It's no secret that I am a fan of all books. I like to share books using, and am starting to investigate as well!

But something that this article seems to overlook about the used book phenomenon is that 'new' books in bookstores often look and feel 'used' thanks to the whole cafe/easy chairs in the bookstores.

Every time I visit a Borders, or Barnes & Noble, to buy a book as a gift, I usually walk out empty handed. Why? Because the books look like they've been returned. Scratched covers, bent spines - and my favorite interaction with an employee about the problem goes a little like this:

Enthusiastic Employee: "Can I help you?"
Me: "Yes - do you have a clean copy of this $40 book? I would like to purchase a new copy."
EE: "No, that is the only copy. But, we can order it for you and you could pick it up here in a couple of days."
Me: "Yes, well I can go to your website, and order it myself, and have it delivered to my home in a couple of days, too."

People have more respect for library books (as they should) than they do for these stores' merchandise. So, why don't they go read books... at the library? Is the library that un-cool for not having a cafe inside? Scuff up a glossy cover that someone won't want to potentially pay department-store prices for, OK? And if this is store policy, then may I suggest to these retail outlets that they start keeping clean copies somewhere that a latte lover won't be able to paw them?

Somehow, cool independent bookstores that have cafes in them manage to have clean books. Like, say, The Book Cellar on Lincoln. All my new books are purchased from them, even though I work across the street from the glossy Evanston Borders store.

Chicago Tribune | `LIKE NEW' BOOKS

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