It was a “soft opening” this past Saturday but a good, steady turnout, according to Eddie Burton, general manager of the Booksellers at Laurelwood. “We’ve had a good reaction. We’re already really positive about it,” he said.
Burton was referring to the launch of the store’s latest undertaking: used books in good condition (out-of-print titles welcome). Individuals are invited to clear their home shelves of unwanted books in exchange for cash (20 percent of the book’s resale value) or store credit (30 percent of its resale value, and that includes credit at the Booksellers Bistro). Those rates translate to customers receiving roughly $1 to $2 per hardback; 50 cents or so per paperback in return. It’s a move that the Booksellers’ owner, Neil Van Uum, observed in other independent bookstores across the country.
To clear up a big matter, though, the Booksellers will NOT be accepting the following: books in poor physical condition; textbooks and lab manuals; magazines and journals; Bibles; library books; computer manuals; mass-market series (such as Harlequin titles); Reader's Digest books and other publishers of condensed books; hardcovers without dust jackets; book-club editions; advance readers’ copies; and encyclopedias.
Customers who bring in several boxes of books should know that they may not be leaving the store that day with cash in hand or instant store credit, because it takes a few minutes per title for staff to examine the books and enter information on them into the store’s computer. Two to three minutes per title multiplied by a couple dozen or more titles takes time. But the store has forms to keep customer contact information on hand.
By Tuesday of this week, trends were already beginning to emerge. According to Graves, hardback mysteries and fiction were running roughly 80 percent of the books received so far and especially works by popular authors such as Stuart Woods and David Baldacci. Cookbooks and children’s books were in shorter supply. Coffee-table books? A few, but don’t go in expecting a big return based on the original retail price. They could each be worth, tops, $10 on down to $2.
Among the more interesting early cloth editions: titles by John Kenneth Galbraith, Steven Millhauser, Judith Guest, Pete Dexter, Denis Johnson, and William Kennedy. Even the store’s staff was impressed.
“We’re not looking to become an antiquarian dealer, however,” Graves, who did indeed co-own a used-book store in the early '90s, said. “We’re not dealing in rare books. That’s not the goal. Neil wants to expand our inventory of backlisted titles, fill in holes in the inventory. Our used-book section will of course be another good reason for people to drop in and browse.”
The Booksellers at Laurelwood (387 Perkins Ext.) will be accepting used books Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information or to schedule a good time to drop off books, call the store at 901-683-9801. •