B. Rex’s Adventures in Bookselling

I put a bunch of child-rearing books on my baby registry recently, and we decided to make room on our shelves. This weekend we picked out about 30 books we have duplicates of and are definitely not going to reread. Many of them we would not recommend to anyone.  Among them: Foucalt’sMadness and Civilization, Nabokov’s Ada, Lisa Suckdog’s Rollerdurby, two editions (two too many) of Gunter Grass’s Tin Drum, three lesser books by Bukowski, and a bunch of other crap that proper Communists at your secondhand bookstore should salivate over. Almost all books were in like new condition; many — hardcover.

We went to Waldenbooks by lake Merritt because last time they gave us a pretty good deal. Last time was about a year and a half ago when we bought our house, and had to sell books and clothes to avoid clutter.

We got a good deal because my now husband showed up a while after me, and the book buyer, a balding alterna-commie in his late 30s who clearly didn’t have a woman in his life to tell him how to look appealing, was trying to hit on me. Back then I probably wore a band t-shirt and cat print socks. This time I wore an Anthropologie coat purchased at Jeromy’s for $25 and I had a ring on my finger. Plus, my husband was a bit conspicuous.

None of this probably mattered because we got a different buyer. This balding alterna-commie was in his mid-40s and he looked like he doesn’t have a woman in his life to tell him how to be appealing. I don’t think he liked me for a second. I think he figured me out. He went through my books, although he didn’t bother to get to the very bottom of the crate. He saw P.J. O’Rourke’sPeace Kills, and dropped it like a hot potato. Apparently, Gunter Grass was OK because this balding alterna-commie went patiently through both copies and selected the cleanest. He looked at a hard cover edition of a rather ideological and not particularly interesting book on Oppenheimer and mumbled under his breath: “What, you have it, and you don’t want to keep it?” He would pass on Rollerderby if his female coworker, in her mid-20s and already with a strong and scruffy alterna-commie air about her wouldn’t tell him that she wanted it. All in all he found about 20 books, all in excellent condition, all will be sold for around $10 a piece, and offered me $30 cash.

I should have walked away, but I took the money.

For comparison we next went to Pendragon where we got $5 for 2 books.

Even if books don’t sell for much nowardays (and they probably don’t) that Waldenbooks place seems to be a bit stingy. I can’t help but to think that the buyer didn’t like me. He didn’t like my clean and cute coat, and he didn’t like that P.J. O’Rourke book.  So he quoted me the price on the low side.

In any occasion, I am not doing business with that place again.  If books are selling that low right now, what’s the point of driving to some overtly political establishment when I can just drop them off at Goodwill? Or offer to friends?

There is one conciliation, though: While I was selling the books my husband managed to do a little rearranging. For some reason Waldenbooks had Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept and The Caged Virgin by Aayan Hirsi Ali’s; they probably couldn’t ignore the books, or the corporate office ordered it, or –whatever. So the lovely employees stuck them up on the bottom shelf. My husband picked them up and moved up to the shelf with the books about the crafty Jews, the top shelf.


November 22, 2006. Breedosaurus.


  1. thealamedist replied:

    For the record:

    * we have two copies of “ADA” – perhaps Nabokov’s best novel and “Rollerderby.” anything from Foucault,

    communist and enthusiastic fan of the Iranian Revloution
    is unfit for our home.

    * Guenter Grass has lied about his Nazi past for the last 50+ years, finally coming clean recently!

    * Sold Bukowski’s “Pulp” – his worst novel, along with a few of those sub-par postumous collections of poems they trot out each year.

    * “Walden Pond”, the name of the bookstore is obviously a reference to Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden”, where he describes roughing it and living life in the wild on Walden Pond in order to get away from the trappings of civilization, and by living life “deliberately.” Unfortuantely, the whole thing was bullshit. He was a staggering 15 minutes from civilization, had frequent visitors, often stayed with friends and frequented a local pub. Earlier in his life, Thoreau also accidentally started a forest fire that burned over 100 acres while trying to cook a fish.

  2. Lupo replied:

    I sold a couple of books to “half price” up the street, and a couple to Moes. Both places gave me $10 for a big pile of books. Half Price wanted to keep the books they didn’t want to give me money for. I took them home and put them out in front of my apartment, where someone else took them and presumably put them to good use.

    A friend who lives in a very small condo with his wife sells most of his excess books on amazon. It helps she works at home and has the postal service’s software for printing shipping labels. I, personally don’t have the time to even get $10 for my books; I’d rather just give them away to random passers by.

    Funny about Gunther Grass being a big nazi, since his favorite moral pose was accusing everyone else of that sin. Then again, I dated a lot of “take back the night” types who had handcuffs, so it shouldn’t be a big surprise.

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