Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Please, Br'er Rabbit, Don't Put Me in the Corner!


Hey friends, today I'd like to introduce you to The World's Best Place to Spend a Rainy Afternoon.
It's not much to look at on the outside...


Unless the sight of crammed bookshelves makes you salivate.
The store is just a few miles from my childhood home in Raleigh, NC, so I've been slobbering over it ever since it opened back in the mid 70's. (Be assured, I was a mere babe then.)

See the shelves on the outside? Those books are sold on the honor system for 10-25 cents a piece. Just drop your change in the slot in the door, and the store will donate the money from those near freebies to NC Public Radio. Last year it was enough change to provide This American Life to the local station! That's a hefty bit of pocket change!

Before I gush on and on about Reader's Corner, I should give a little explanation/disclaimer/debate topic of the day. Here goes:
I have a rule about buying used books. It is: NEVER BUY USED BOOKS UNLESS THE BOOK HAS BEEN OUT IN BOOKSTORES FOR AT LEAST TWENTY YEARS.
I never thought much about buying used books until I had a book in bookstores. Did you know for your average trade paperback book, the standard publishing contract gives the author 7.5% of the book's list price? So if I pay $10 for a new book at my local bookstore, the author gets 75 cents. (Cha-ching! Let's hire a limo!) But if I get the same book at a fine establishment like Reader's Corner, the poor author gets nothing. Nada. Rien. Poor little author. The world is a cruel, cruel place.

What's that you say? "But what if a book has been out fifty years? Shouldn't the author still get her 75 cents? What if it's been out twenty-one years? Your rule makes no sense."
I say, "You're right. It's a silly rule. But I had to draw a line somewhere."
"Then why go to used bookstores at all?"
Okay. But what will people do with all the old books they don't want anymore? Add them to the landfill? Stack them in big piles in their bedroom until their doors won't open all the way and their husbands have to pass them pancakes under the door to keep them from starving to death?
And what about people who really can't afford $14.95, but desperately want not just to read the book, but to OWN the book. And what about Skinflint Aunt Trudy who only buys used, so that she can afford to drive her cats to Las Vegas for her annual week of gambling and kitty massages? You want to stand in Aunt Trudy's way?

To all that I say, "I can't solve the world's problems. It's just my rule. Make up your own."

But before you turn your nose up at Reader's Corner, take a peek.

And a sniff.
Ah! Deliciously musty. The perfume of old books.

Reader's Corner was where I found Judy Blume, (we must, we must, we must increase our bust) and where I bought my first record album (Simon and Garfunkel--an oldie, even then.)

And it's where I even found a few books I hid from my mother. (No freak outs allowed, Mom. They weren't that bad.)
And now it's where Todd and I snatch up volumes of The American Guide series, put out by WPA writers. Plus other junk that looks good.

But one of the best things about Reader's Corner has nothing to do with books.
Well, almost nothing. Take a closer look around the store and you'll find photos and various oddities taped all over the bookshelves and walls. These treasures were all discovered within the pages of the used books.
Like these...

(Click on the photos for a better look.)
And this...

And these...

And these...


Any of those belong to you?
Some are bizarre, some are hilarious, and some are just plain wild.

At least they seemed wild in the 1940's.

I hope you enjoyed the bookstore tour. So what do you think about buying used books? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Have a wonderful Wednesday, y'all!
Love, Becky
PS. Speaking of the wild, I thought I'd join in on the hoopla over this book turned movie. Has anyone seen it?

16 comments:

Southern Living: Preppy Style said...

Good point! I never thought of that...of course, I did host a book swap not too long ago (but your book was NOT included - it's a keeper!) So, I feel bad there. I just wish books didn't have to be so expensive as I read a LOT and the costs get high.

I now have a kindle. Do authors get their share if I buy it on kindle?

Susan said...

I often buy used paperback books at the flea market. Unless folks are shoplifting books to resell, aren't they getting paid? I figured the author was paid originally for the book, that was purchased at full price from a retail outlet. Don't they get the money from the stores that purchase them? Are you saying that the number of new books sold is reduced by buying used books? I'm a bit confused here. Just wondering. I read about 200 paperbacks each year and really would like to know. This looks like such a fun store, I know I would love it. Take care, Susan.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Yep, Jennifer, authors do get a royalty if you buy on Kindle. Yey!

Susan, yes, that's what I'm saying. The number of new books sold is reduced by buying used books, and the author only makes money from that first sale. If the book is sold used and then sold used again, the author misses making anything from those two readers. Writers want their books read, but most hope their work will help support themselves too.
You'd LOVE Reader's Corner. I could stay in there for hours and hours.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Ha ha. Cross out a royalty and make that royalties. I'm still waiting for my crown.

R and L said...

I have always enjoyed buying old books for the antique fascination about them. So what I buy is more like 50-150 yrs old. No rules about the subject matter, but more like what is funny, unusual, corny, or historical about the book or magazine.
I totally understand about your topic today, and it parallels the music business too. Buying used CD's, i'm pretty sure the musicians get no further cut after the initial sale as new, however Radio stations are required to report every time a song is played, to get royalties back to everybody involved.
A system I can think of, but probably wouldn't fly, is for the used book store to use the ISBN# to get the royalties back to the publisher and author, as would a new-book store. The main problem I see would be getting the used-book stores to comply.
In the music business where I have a publishing company, Sellet Publishing Co, royalties get paid to me to distribute, every time a song is played publicly. Though I still have to rely on the radio & TV stations and BMI or ASCAP to operate legally and report whenever one of my songs is played.
It does seem that authors should get enduring royalties as do song writers/musicians.
Good topic worth pondering, thanks Becky!
Randy

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Thanks, Randy.
Lovers of Used Books, please don't think I'm comparing you to skinflint Aunt Trudy. This post was supposed to just be a feature on my all time favorite used bookstore WHICH I LOVE! I'm crazy about old books, even water bloated ones from the bathtub. I just try to buy relatively new books new. It makes me feel good to support an author.

Renee said...

Give me a bookstore/cardstore and I am gone.

xoxox

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

And a book bought from Amazon leaves the author with EVEN LESS money.
That does look like a lovely spot to browse--especially for the stuff that is older and now far out of print!

Susan Tuttle said...

i love how you describe the scent of old books as a perfume:)

Sandra Evertson said...

I love book stores, I would have bought up every one of those $1.00 books! And now I am off to read Tanner's blog!
Sandra Evertson

JaxPop said...

Becky - 3 books a week gets to be expensive (my average) but no way would I buy used. Author gets nothing, as you've said - in fact, the used book store usually makes more on the sale of the "used" book than the author did when it was first sold.

Used books skeeve me out anyway. Who wants to get to page 273 & find smeared "something" or a half eaten Cheeto lurking inside? Ain't enough Purell....

If new books don't fit the budget -the library is an option, still kinda skeevey though.

Fete et Fleur said...

WOW! I didn't know how little an author gets for their published work.

Nancy

adrienne said...

It looks like a wonderful store, but I'm really fascinated by the stuff they found between the pages! Hmm...I'll bet there were some dollars tucked away in there, too...

Kat said...

Oh that place looks wonderful!!! I wish we had a bookstore like that around here.

Kelly H-Y said...

Oh my goodness ... you always bring a smile to my face and laughter to my day! I truly appreciate your blog! :-) I love that they have an honor system for those outdoor books!

Marie Antionette said...

I love old books.I have about 200 old comic books,very old romance comic books.I love this post Rebecca.Very kool.XXOO Marie Antionette