Re: Why I Like Harry Potter

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That's 4 Harry Potter threads out of the last 5. Which ones are spoiler-friendly? All of them?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:40 PM
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READ A SERIOUS BOOK, BEEYATCH.

THEY OUGHT TO CHANGE THE NAME OF THIS SITE TO ALLHARRYALLTHE TIME.COM.


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:44 PM
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Great post, Ogged. I'd add that I like the way the characters all aren't just good or bad. There are many shades of grey and complex motivations. I also like that she shows kids that adults aren't infallable and even they do things for the wrong reasons sometimes.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:46 PM
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Magic is fun.

Pfft. Magic isn't real. You do know that, right? Or is that a spoiler?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:47 PM
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Now if you'll excuse me I have to get back to The Magic Mountain. Which has no magic in it, OK, so you wouldn't like it.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:49 PM
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But Harry isn't able to duel with Voldemort because he knows a lot, but because he has...something.

Interesting. Same thing that you like about sports?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:49 PM
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I bet Harry doesn't need a rashguard.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:52 PM
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WHERE'S EMERSON WHEN YOU NEED HIM, FOR ONCE?


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:53 PM
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Probably in line at Borders, in disguise.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:54 PM
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Unfortunately, none of Dumbledore's wonderfulness comes through in the movies; you have to read the books.

But what about the audiobooks? It comes through there, right? How could it not?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:54 PM
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It totally comes through on the audiobooks. He sounds like a big hug.

Liveblogging from Borders: OMG so many people! AAAAAAAAAA. Little claustrophobic here.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:57 PM
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I look forward to Ogged's followup posts, "What I Like About The Moonstone", "What I Like About Left Behind", "What I Like About Whatever the Fuck Sausagely's Book Gets Called", and "What I Like About Blow Bang 13"*.

* The blowing and the banging, I suspect.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:58 PM
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Motherfucker. I ban myself.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:58 PM
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He sounds like a big hug.

Gawddamn, that's a nice sentence, Becks. Try not die at Borders.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:00 PM
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11: Borders, right now.

(Yeah, I just linked this in another thread. Sometimes, there's too much awesome for one thread to contain)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:00 PM
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I just watched the B&N live broadcast of the launch from NYC. The first customer, some long haired guy, totally bogarted his place in line and took forever to check out, to the point where the people behind him were about to murder him. The atmosphere seemed funny, a combination of Beatlemania, The Polar Express and -- because of the constant walkie-talkie chatter from the staff in the background -- the Apollo landings.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:08 PM
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We do seem to be having these mass hysteria moments lately. The iPhone was just a month ago.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:11 PM
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They're going pretty quick here. 120 customers checked out already. (We have numbered and colored wrist bands and you check out when your group is called.)


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:13 PM
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So weird. Waiting in line: America's new hobby.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:16 PM
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Yeah, I don't get that - especially gratuitous waiting, like waiting in line for Star Wars for a week. I picked up my wristband at 9:30 and met DaveB at a bar for two hours and came back.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:19 PM
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Waiting in line used to be for the Russians.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:22 PM
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When I was at Burning Man last year, tripping modestly but rather drunk, I laughed harder than I ever have in my life at the Bad Idea Theater screening of this:

http://www.illegal-art.org/video/wizard.html

Perfect for the Potter-haters amongst you.


Posted by: A. Chandler Moisen | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:23 PM
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opnionated gramma is the BEST gimmick.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:25 PM
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Tweety, Are you coming next Thursday? E-mail SP or, e-mail me, and I'll forward teh e-mail to SP.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:28 PM
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Oh, yeah, e-mailed him earlier. He didn't let you know?!? What a jerk.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:30 PM
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So, does that mean that you're coming?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:32 PM
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Seems that way, yes'm.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:37 PM
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Damn, I'm disappointed in myself that I'm too misanthropic/shy to bother you all with my presence. An actual Cultist of the Dead Cow? In the circles I used to travel touching one of you would cure cancer.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:42 PM
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27: Oh, good.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:46 PM
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Pottered up!


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:50 PM
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28: I should tell you about the time I licked ogged's face and cured his cancer.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:52 PM
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I'm surprised she let you do that, Becks, seeing as how you barely know her.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:52 PM
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Sifu Tweety is Megan.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:53 PM
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Thanks for curing my cancer, commenters!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:56 PM
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Pottered up!

Woot. Let us know in a month or two how it turns out.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:58 PM
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Now starts the process of ripping them into MP3s...


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:01 PM
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36: and re-editing them to make confusing nonsensical spoilers

"and.. then... mrs... weasley... ate... voldemort's..."

Yeah, I'll just stop there.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:02 PM
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My favorite part about doing Book 5 as an audiobook: When Umbridge is trying to get Trelawney to leave the castle and Trelawney kept shouting "You can't! You can't!"

Read in a British accent, it made me stop in my tracks until I realized what was going on.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:07 PM
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"voldemort... knelt.. down... and... licked... Ron's... can't."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:09 PM
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Okay, I just finished the Deathly Hallows (I read the photographed pages) and it turns out the secret to magical talent is how many midichlorians you have in your bloodstream. Quite a fulfilling explanation, if you ask me.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 5:26 AM
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Waiting in line: America's new hobby.

I couldn't see the point of bothering--it's not like I'm going to read anything after midnight on a Friday, anyway. And hanging around a bookstore with a bunch of kids would interfere with drinking time. I just swung by the supermarket this morning and picked up a copy from the piles they had along with some cat food. You could wait all night at Barnes and Noble and they wouldn't sell you that.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 7:27 AM
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Ogged, you old softie.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 8:05 AM
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Why I Like Left Behind

Christians. Specifically, that the annoying ones are gone. Pure wish-fulfillment, but it's a big wish and well-fulfilled.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 9:37 AM
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Am I allowed to look down my nose at all you people who got your books at effing Borders or B&N instead of going to a real bookstore?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 1:59 PM
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You are, 44.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 2:05 PM
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hanging around a bookstore with a bunch of kids would interfere with drinking time

Agreed. There was a middle-aged woman at the bookstore last night who was QUITE LOUD about having bought ALL HER COPIES THERE including the FIRST EDITION of the first book, and about knowing ALL THE ANSWERS to the trivia questions, despite the fact that the kids were divided into teams who were supposed to be answering the questions *as* teams, and said woman was not on a team.

In contrast, PK was all excited about knowing the Weasley twins' bday, but he KEPT HIS MOUTH SHUT because he wasn't on a team (since we were wandering around doing other things while the teams were being formed) and he understood that therefore he shouldn't spoil the game.

Sorry. It didn't bother me nearly as much as it sounds like it did; mostly I was kind of rolling my eyes inwardly.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 2:05 PM
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Thank you, 45. I was going to do it anyway, but I now feel that doing so is right and just.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 2:08 PM
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You could put a cap in his Azkaban.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 2:18 PM
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My daughter reports from arts camp this afternoon that activities have come to a virtual standstill while everyone reads. Part of registration was where you made specific arrangements for delivery of your copy, should you wish.

She's not reading it yet, because she's loaned her copy to a girl distraught about the non-delivery of hers. On the other hand, she borrowed a copy for a few minutes and read the epilogue, which has outraged some of her cabinmates. No spoiling or anything, just "How could you do that?"

We'll be going to pick her up in a couple of weeks and then we'll stay in the area for vacation. My son and the rest of us can read it then.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 3:17 PM
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Am I allowed to look down my nose at all you people who got your books at effing Borders or B&N instead of going to a real bookstore?

More than allowed. Compelled, even.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 3:32 PM
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My daughter reports from arts camp this afternoon that activities have come to a virtual standstill while everyone reads.

Awesome.

A decent number of people came into the real bookstore I was at after deciding the Borders down the street was too crowded. Maybe I should have felt angry at them, but I was just happy the bookstore was getting that much more business.


Posted by: oztk | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 3:48 PM
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There was a middle-aged woman at the bookstore last night who was QUITE LOUD

Oh yeah, should haven't blamed the kids--generally it's the parents who are worst. Um, except all the parents here, of course.

The camp news is interesting. The SO is on the board of directors for a regional council of a camping organization. One of the camps they run is doing discussion groups for kids on the book, dividing them up by how far they're in. So if you've read the first five chapters, or whatever, you can go talk about them in group A, the first ten, group B, etc. Not a bad idea; I'm somewhere over 400 pages in but don't want to open the "Chamber of Secrets" spoiler thread in case I see something from someone further along.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 3:56 PM
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should haven't blamed the kids--generally it's the parents who are worst.

She wasn't a parent.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 4:25 PM
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What's farsi for "dork"?


Posted by: peter snees | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 4:40 PM
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Ogged.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 4:48 PM
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I got to wait in line at the Post Office, as our postperson didn't hammer hard enough on our door [bell's broken]. We thought it was coming UPS, and the UPS guy knows what to do. [He's fairly amazing - he's shorter than I am (i.e., below 5'4"), yet took my recently delivered washer (87 lbs) upstairs for me without even breathing hard. And refused a tip for extra service.]

So, we went and joined the line at the PO, which was only a few people long, but mostly those who had missed delivery of their HPs. Not that I have time to read it today, but damnit, today's my birthday and it's a present from the Biophysicist. [My son gave me The Shins' latest CD. Good boy!]

Many years ago, the Offspring and I used to queue up at, oh, 4am, when new Beanie Babies were being delivered to Nordstrom's. There was a certain batch of regulars - we took to bringing various breakfast components for each other - and a nice sense of camaraderie. Fortunately, Nordstrom's was clever enough to hand out numbers and call a dozen people at a time. Otherwise, there might have been casualties...


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 6:31 PM
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Aww, happy birthday DE.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 6:56 PM
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Am I allowed to look down my nose at all you people who got your books at effing Borders or B&N instead of going to a real bookstore?

Nobody's going to stop you, but given the book in question, it's a bit like looking down your nose at people who buy cans of Chef Boyardee at Food Lion instead of Harris Teeter.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 7:15 PM
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Happy Birthday DE!

We don't have an independent bookshop to go to.

Because we were at a bookshop in the middle of town on a Friday night, there were lots of drunk people enjoying their evening out going past too. Favourite heckle: "Do yourself a favour and get some Oscar Wilde!"


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 7:17 PM
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58: Hardly. Given that it's the biggest selling book in donkey's years, it makes sense to support the independent bookstores that are struggling all over the world. Witness the fact that Asilon's town doesn't even have *one*.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 7:31 PM
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Well, I checked after writing, and there are two (not counting the Christian bookshops, and the antiquarian booksellers). But both are out in the suburbs, and I'm not, and wouldn't have headed out there on Friday at midnight.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 7:52 PM
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58: Harris Teeter!

Weird that I so strongly associate my 8 months in Blacksburg, VA with Harris Teeter. Which I was reminded of, the moment I read your comment.

Hmm, missing on that part of the East coast. I've got family up near Boone, NC; I don't expect there were any lines for Harry Potter in Brushy Fork or Trade, TN (closest towns).

I don't know you, but indeed, birthday well wishes to you DE.


Posted by: Roamsedge | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 7:53 PM
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Around here, the indies--or one store owner, anyway--aren't making any money because of markdowns and other costs. From the link:

And it's a price tag set by a publisher that charges bookstores a percentage of the cover price, not of the price at which the book actually sells. After paying the publisher's rate, plus costs of food and games for the party, staffing and running lights for six hours in the middle of the night and credit card processing fees, stores everywhere expect to lose money on the sales of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." A representative of a major bookstore chain even remarked in a recent Associated Press article that the chain expects to make money that night through sales of membership cards, rather than on the books.

Obviously, the fact that she would lose money on the deal isn't a reason not to buy at a local store if you've got one; it's just that it might have been a question whether she (and others) would lose a little or a lot. (And hopefully get other customers in the process.)


Posted by: hermit greg | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 7:54 PM
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63: The chains are doing mass discounts; I'm not sure that the independents are. Mine didn't. But bookstores, especially independent ones, are a very thin margin kind of business anyway, so I wouldn't be surprised if late night parties didn't, at best, barely break even; I wondered that last night when I realized no one was buying anything extra. I suspect that these parties, for the independents, are really just about maintaining customer loyalty and relationships.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 8:05 PM
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B's right, although it appears that 'donkey's years' should be 'history.' When I worked for Powell's, which has managed to achieve rare success as an independent, B&N and Borders were just becoming the competition-crushing behemoths they are now. I don't remember the exact details -- feel free to Google away -- but B&N was very open about its strategy to dominate the market by putting independent booksellers out of business. Bad for writers, bad for small publishers, bad for readers. Bad, bad, bad. This is exactly the kind of bonanza that could really help your local non-corporate bookstore.

On preview, I have to read hermit greg's link, but on the basis of the excerpt I stand by the above.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 8:05 PM
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"And might I say, were this fantastical world our own, I rather do imagine dear sweet DominEditrix as Harry, such a magician, such a gentle and proper influence the dear thing is on our humble Muggle world."
- Ron Jeremy

Happy Birthday, DE.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 8:06 PM
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B&N was very open about its strategy to dominate the market by putting independent booksellers out of business. Bad for writers, bad for small publishers, bad for readers.

Actually, bad for writers, bad for small publishers, good for readers. In that B&N has a bigger and wider selection than what most people had access to before B&N came to a place like, say, Wilkes-Barre.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 8:26 PM
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The store owner in my link in 63 was marking down 25%, which was standard for all the stores here; she had a 40% discount for everyone who dressed up. That, I suspect, was the bigger source of her concern. The store we bought at stuck with 25%, had lines through the building and out the door, and a lot of people were buying extras.


Posted by: hermit greg | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 8:27 PM
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67: bad for writers and good for readers do not contradict?

This is happy news. Down with authors! Free the novel!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 8:28 PM
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bad for writers and good for readers do not contradict?

It doesn't contradict in so far as lower prices and slimmer margins are better for consumers and worse for producers.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 8:46 PM
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Bad for readers in reduced choice in the long run and the chipping away of community that comes with the demise of one's local independent retailer. Good for readers in the same way that Wal-Mart is good for consumers.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 8:54 PM
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A 40% percent discount would basically mean selling at cost, extraneous costs aside; 25%, not much profit, but all the more reason to go to the store that needs it more. The real scandal from the link in 63 is that the price has been jacked up $5 over the last book in the series.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 9:09 PM
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She wasn't a parent.

Ah--I understand. She was someone like me! And I agree, we are the fucking worst.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 10:00 PM
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65:

When I worked for Powell's, which has managed to achieve rare success as an independent,

Powell's succeeds because it sells used books, buys them very, very cheaply, and sells them cheaply. Volume, baby.

67:

Actually, bad for writers, bad for small publishers, good for readers. In that B&N has a bigger and wider selection than what most people had access to before B&N came to a place like, say, Wilkes-Barre.

Fair enough. If the Wilkes-Barre readership couldn't support an independent bookstore, that says something about the community. And the bookselling industry.

Jesus McQueen is correct in 71.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 10:42 PM
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Bad for readers in reduced choice in the long run and the chipping away of community that comes with the demise of one's local independent retailer.

That presumes that there's actually a local independent retailer in the first place. When I first moved to Pittsburgh, there were *no* bookstores to be found; the closest one was a Border's an hour away. Barnes & Noble was a godsend.

(And you know, much as I liked Cody's in Berkeley, which was pretty much the gold standard of independent bookstores... Borders still had a better selection of the stuff I was looking for.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 10:50 PM
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The Borders history sections I've seen have been as good as or better than all the independent non-used non-specialty store history sections I've seen. B&N has been generally awful.

I generally buy used books in person, new ones online, so my experience in-store is limited.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 10:51 PM
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The Borders history sections I've seen have been as good as or better than all the independent non-used non-specialty store history sections I've seen.

That's exactly what I was thinking of in 75.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 10:52 PM
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The Borders history sections I've seen have been as good as or better than all the independent non-used non-specialty store history sections I've seen. B&N has been generally awful.

This has been my experience as well.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:04 PM
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I generally buy used books in person, new ones online, so my experience in-store is limited.

Used bookstores are for browsing -- to find things you otherwise might not have known you might be interested in.

New bookstores, meaning stores, whether independent or chain, that offer current, in-print titles, are for finding things you probably already know you're interested in.

The death of used bookstores is a function of the fact that people feel increasingly pressed for time and have increasingly limited curiosity.

The death of independent bookstores that deal in in-print books is a function of what someone somewhere, perhaps in this thread, noted about publishers' deals -- they just can't get a decent cut in the face of diminishing margins.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:05 PM
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Good for readers in the same way that Wal-Mart is good for consumers.

This just isn't true. When WalMart moved into Wilkes-Barre, it sold things that other stores already sold, but crappier versions of them, for lower prices, and with the added convenience of going to one store instead of several stores to shop for many different things. This put locally-owned stores out of business and reduced customer choice. When Barnes & Noble moved into Wilkes-Barre, it sold lots of books that no other store sold, did not sell crappier versions of anything, and was not any more convenient that the existing bookstore. This put Waldenbooks out of business (big loss) and increased customer choice.

As far as I can tell WalMart is a blight wherever it goes, whereas Barnes & Noble is a blight in the rare communities that actually had popular independent non-used book stores 15 years ago.

I'm assuming that it hasn't had a big effect on used bookstores, which may be false. Plus, I don't know why the Internet can't be blamed for the decline of local bookstores, just like it can for the decline of local CD stores.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:10 PM
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Used bookstores are for browsing -- to find things you otherwise might not have known you might be interested in.

New bookstores, meaning stores, whether independent or chain, that offer current, in-print titles, are for finding things you probably already know you're interested in.

This is almost exactly the opposite of how I use bookstores. But I'm not a model customer. I browse at both types of stores, but am more likely to have specific books in mind in a used bookstore.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:11 PM
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Second paragraph in 81 should be in italics. I forgot the second set of tags.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:12 PM
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Actually, you know what? I forgot that there is an independent bookstore a couple towns over from Wilkes-Barre. It seems to be doing fine, and actually expanded in, I believe, 1999, which I think was after the Barnes & Noble opened. (of course this expansion was largely to turn the cafe area into a full-fledged lunch restaurant, which may have been necessary after B&N bargained down the margins)


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:14 PM
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Borders are B&N are the Starbucks of bookstores. Sure they appear in areas otherwise devoid of worth, but they leech off of the original community that sustains them. If I lived in Ohio or Nevada or some such place, I'd love B & N, and offer them blood sacrifices if necessary. But I don't, and local bookstores that I like are hurting. In the Bay Area, Green Apple is irreplaceable, of course, but local bookstores are shutting down. Here in boston, the Harvard co-op is the gold standard, but the little used book places' inventories are suffering: I personally have extracted most of the good books from that place on davis sq. If this trend continues, no book read by less than 20,000 people will be available. To the avid used book reader, this represents apocalypse.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:25 PM
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If this trend continues, no book read by less than 20,000 people will be available.

Except on the internet, of course.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:30 PM
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On the internet, no one knows that your primary readership consists of dogs.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:31 PM
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This is almost exactly the opposite of how I use bookstores. But I'm not a model customer. I browse at both types of stores, but am more likely to have specific books in mind in a used bookstore.

Good. Data point.

Not that I'm involved in a used open-shop bookstore any more.

What you say is one reason that previously open-shop used bookstores are increasinly online only now: customers have specific books in mind when they walk in.

The fact of the matter is that when you have 30,000 books on the shelves, you just can't tell people whether you have a particular thing. You *may* know, but otherwise, they have to look for themselves. They don't like that. Why is it not all computerized?

Because it's not! Are you kidding?

Anyway. Yes, as Crypic Ned noted, the internet killed walk-in bookstores.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:34 PM
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The fact of the matter is that when you have 30,000 books on the shelves, you just can't tell people whether you have a particular thing.

This reminds me of something that irritates me about some (not necessarily all) independent bookstores: poor organization. There's a good independent bookstore here that has a huge selection, but it's fucking impossible to find anything there because it's so poorly organized. That, along with the fact that it's really far from my house, is the main reason I usually go to Borders instead.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:38 PM
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Powell's is successful in part because they have a good computerized inventory. They're not especially cheap.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:43 PM
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Anyway. Yes, as Crypic Ned noted, the internet killed walk-in bookstores.

Fuck that: I love walking through used bookstores, and buying something to read as caprice demands. Never will the internet replace that. Never will the internet produce the musty-sweet scent of used paperbacks, or allow the user to sit on a shelving stool and read. If I want one particular book at the best price, I will use this internet of ours, but this should never be confused with the act of entering a bookstore,which is sacred, and which I love.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:47 PM
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Ah--I understand. She was someone like me! And I agree, we are the fucking worst.

Heh, no--just saying, it's a kids book, there are gonna be kids.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:47 PM
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teo, maybe you should go work there.

Seriously, though, I realize you are young, but back in the day, an disorganized bookshop could -- I say *could* -- be a blessed afternoon spent exploring. And maybe again, and again.

Exploring. That's the idea.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:48 PM
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Hey, I don't mind exploring, and I've spent plenty of time at the bookstore in question. But if I'm looking for a specific book, or even a specific type of book, it's not the place I go.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:50 PM
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The thing about independent bookstores is both that you can more often find interesting titles that you haven't yet heard of--at good independents, I generally go to browse and discover. It's partly that you're relying on an owner who *knows books* rather than simply knowing the publishing industry.

If I want a specific book that's kind of unusual, e.g. something academic or social sciencey or what have you, I'll get it from Amazon. Of course I go to B&N if I want to just sort of putter around with a coffee in my hand, or if I want something semi-best-selling (most recently: Mouse Guard) that I don't think the independent will carry. I buy stuff off their "new authors" shelf and older mainstreamish academicy history or social science type books at B&N.

But in all honesty, the most interesting books I discover are usually the ones that are selected by an independent with a particular sensibility that I'm sympathetic too. Our (one) local independent here is mostly quite good--there are things I'm surprised they don't carry, and their small adults section is virtually all older stuff now out in paperback and kind of uninspired imho. But I like supporting independents regardless, and the woman lives in the community, and she does select some really neat new kids books. Whereas B&N's profits don't do a damn thing locally.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:54 PM
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Many indie bookstores and indie CD shops will order a book/CD for you and have it within a week—just as amazon or the publisher/record label would. If you feel there's a value in having a location nearby where you can browse and hang out and talk to people about the subject matter, buy that way. I do, or at least, I aspire to do so more often.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:57 PM
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Powell's is successful in part because they have a good computerized inventory. They're not especially cheap.

Check out Powell's prices online, on, say, Amazon. I think they do a fair portion of business online. What they have there is computerized because they're in-print titles with bar-codes, UPS codes scannable with a bar-code scanner. They sell a generic copy that may or may not be in generally readable condition. They will send whatever copy they can lay their hands on. They sell reading copies of books.

And yes, that's why they're staying on top of the game. What they do out of store(s) is essential, but they also have a market temporarily cornered on acquisitions.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:58 PM
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95 is true, and when I lived in towns where I regularly passed the independent on foot every day, I did that a lot and almost never used Amazon. Now that I'm in car central and tend to make dedicated trips, the convenience of Amazon tends to win on the special-order front.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:58 PM
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I'll buy the book or two I have in mind online, but have a hard time walking out of a brick-and-mortar store with a decent selection without making a purchase whether or not I had anything in mind.

One bad thing about B&N and Borders is that the buying is done centrally, which really is bad in the long run for consumers. Whether it's bad in any particular community depends on the community itself, of course; if it didn't have a decent bookstore (of whatever stripe; just being independent doesn't mean you've got good buyers) beforehand, then it will probably benefit from one of the biggies moving in. But overall centralized buying = less diversity.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-21-07 11:59 PM
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98 reiterates 94, I see.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:00 AM
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Kobe's new book rulz.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:01 AM
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They sell reading copies of books.

That could be a big drawback depending on the type of book. A novel, who cares; but if I bought an academic book and unknowningly got an advance, whose indices are frequently filled with "000", I'd be pissed.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:02 AM
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I'll buy the book or two I have in mind online, but have a hard time walking out of a brick-and-mortar store with a decent selection without making a purchase whether or not I had anything in mind.

Huh. I spend a fair amount of time in bookstores of various types, but I almost never buy anything. I'm really absurdly indecisive.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:02 AM
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I'm really absurdly indecisive.

This is why you're not getting chicks. Just pick one and buy her damnit.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:04 AM
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I can't believe so many of you prefer (or are defending) the big chains. Who are you and what have you done with the socially conscious left?

Not to mention the whole small business owner vs. international chain thing. Jeez, people.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:06 AM
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But it's so hard to choose!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:06 AM
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When peak oil hits, we're all fucked. Shipping through Amazon will be ludicrous. And no one will be able to afford to drive to Borders. We'll bike to the fledgling local bookstore and leaf through copies of neat(!) map books from the '60s.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:07 AM
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I admit that one reason I'm using Amazon a fair bit this year is that I accidentally ended up purchasing the $79 year-long priority shipping thingy. (Don't ask.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:09 AM
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104: Like it or not, big chains have their advantages. It's sad to see the state of independent bookstores today, and it's nice to support them when possible, but this is a story that's played out in many, many retail sectors before, and there's a reason for that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:09 AM
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I can't believe so many of you prefer (or are defending) the big chains. Who are you and what have you done with the socially conscious left?

Sometimes reality sucks. I've been in my share of small towns where I was wishing for a Starbucks so I could get a decent latte.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:09 AM
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There are used books I won't buy online because I don't trust them - meaning pretty much any seller - with edition/condition information. This doesn't apply if I really need the book, but in practice I'm fine with browsing and waiting. Plus, there can be 10+ books I'd say I "have in mind" at a given time, and it's not uncommon for me to buy something I considered less of a priority than what I was thinking of when I arrived at the store.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:10 AM
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I've been in my share of small towns where I was wishing for a Starbucks so I could get a decent latte.

gswift: the very face of the decadent left today.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:10 AM
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108: Yes, of course in the long run the big chains are going to win. Nonetheless, it's crappy to overlook small businesses when one is in a position to realize what that means.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:11 AM
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98, 110: How on earth can you starving grad students afford all these books?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:12 AM
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Not to mention the whole small business owner vs. international chain thing.

National chains are the new small business owners! Buy local*!

local = within the 50 states


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:12 AM
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90 gets it completely right, by the way.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:13 AM
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I've been in my share of small towns where I was wishing for a Starbucks so I could get a decent latte.

Me too. But I'm not talking about situations where the only option is the big chain because there *is* no small local business. I'm talking about situations where there are small local businesses, and people skip them because the chains are more "convenient."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:13 AM
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98, 110: How on earth can you starving grad students afford all these books?

That's why we're starving.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:16 AM
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How on earth can you starving grad students afford all these books?

I wish I hadn't bought a lot of them and have cut back a lot in the last 3 years. But that's sort of coincided with dropping out.

There's a Saroyan story where the narrator is forced to sell his books to pay for food, during the Great Depression, I think.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:18 AM
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I'm talking about situations where there are small local businesses, and people skip them because the chains are more "convenient."

Is this directed at me? When it's a choice between driving two miles to Borders or driving twelve miles to an independent, most of the time I'm going to Borders. I see no reason to apologize for that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:18 AM
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I rarely bought things at the big chains in the Bay Area. In Berkeley alone there were enough used bookstores for most of what I've wanted to buy. I can't remember the last time I got something at Cody's, though, and they may have helped put their own Telegraph location out of business with better parking on 4th street and another location in SF (I think).


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:23 AM
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The thing about independent bookstores is both that you can more often find interesting titles that you haven't yet heard of--at good independents, I generally go to browse and discover. It's partly that you're relying on an owner who *knows books* rather than simply knowing the publishing industry.

The thing is...I can't imagine doing that. For used books, yes. For new books, no. It's as simple as that. New books are expensive and they are antiseptic objects. Used books are lived-in and affordable and likeable.

It's sad to see the state of independent bookstores today, and it's nice to support them when possible, but this is a story that's played out in many, many retail sectors before, and there's a reason for that.

Yeah...it seems more tragic when it happens with bookstores than with hardware or groceries, but I don't think it is.

If I lived in Ohio or Nevada or some such place, I'd love B & N, and offer them blood sacrifices if necessary.

Even more than this. Places like that contain a huge number of people. And unlike having access to more fancy coffee drinks, having access to more, and more obscure, books is an objectively good thing for people in these places -- it's not something that can be set aside as a minor issue.

But I don't, and local bookstores that I like are hurting.

I can't see B & N having a huge negative effect on readers in places that you cite, the Bay Area and Boston. The very fact that such good local bookstores have been supported lo these many years means the demand for obscure books will continue to be there, and the people who constitute that demand are not particularly price-conscious. I'm envisioning college campus bookstores becoming more and more expansive as the not-entirely-profit-driven alternative to homogenized chains.

Finally, I think the effect of amazon.com is much greater anyway.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:24 AM
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I concede that I wasn't thinking upthread about places without independent bookstores; fortunate for me, I haven't lived anywhere without a decent one at least as close as the nearest B&N.

While the chains often have deeper inventory, they do limit choice in the long run. They don't accommodate small publishers, including most university presses, as well. Small publishers run on tight margins, for one thing, and can't offer big volume and deep discounts; when they go under, their backlists go with them. This isn't entirely the chains' fault, certainly. Internet sales have also hurt (that said, chains' business models aren't dictating what's available in books online, and the situation with music, which can be downloaded, is very different).

Remember, if your local bookseller doesn't have something in stock, they should be happy to special order it for you. If not, well, fuck 'em.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:26 AM
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I'm envisioning college campus bookstores becoming more and more expansive as the not-entirely-profit-driven alternative to homogenized chains.

Maybe, but an awful lot of them are already owned by B&N.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:28 AM
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I'm envisioning college campus bookstores becoming more and more expansive as the not-entirely-profit-driven alternative to homogenized chains.

Let a thousand Seminary Co-ops bloom!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:29 AM
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I agree with the point about small publishers. But their situation was never good, their back catalogues were never steadily available, and hasn't the internet made their situation better rather than worse?

The fact that if a publisher disappears the backlist is sometimes permanently out of print is another issue, I think. Damn copyright system.

Since I hardly buy new books anyway, but like to imagine myself as someone who does, I've been talking ex recto for this whole thread, and will stop now.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:30 AM
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123, I had no idea.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:30 AM
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While the chains often have deeper inventory, they do limit choice in the long run. They don't accommodate small publishers, including most university presses, as well. Small publishers run on tight margins, for one thing, and can't offer big volume and deep discounts; when they go under, their backlists go with them.

This is definitely true, and a major downside of the growing strength of the big chains. I suspect the upshot will be even more consolidation in the publishing industry rather than the total disappearance of those backlists, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:31 AM
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In the eighties, there was no bookstore in Baltimore with nearly the inventory of one of those mall-sized Borders that are all over the place now. You had to drive to Washington or New York to get any type of selection.

My position is "fuck independent bookstores". They weren't around when I needed them so why should I care about their fate now.


Posted by: Joeo | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:32 AM
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110:

There are used books I won't buy online because I don't trust them - meaning pretty much any seller - with edition/condition information.

Now, see, this pisses me off.

Write to me. Either about any book you might ever buy from me, or about a book you might want to buy from someone else. I am able to answer questions. I do it every day.

mmpgph. That is, harrumph. Those of us who sell books online are aware that those of you who buy buy books online are increasingly suspicious of us. How do we correct this?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:32 AM
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Since no one's mentioned libraries in awhile:

Books, check em out! Books, check em out!
Read about cars and stars, playin' electric guitars,
Or cops that work hard patrolin' the boulevard,
A heavyweight boxer and his craziest bout
Books, check em out! At your library.

And with that, I say good night. You buncha nerds.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:34 AM
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I suspect the upshot will be even more consolidation in the publishing industry rather than the total disappearance of those backlists, though.

Sure to be an unmitigated good.

My position is "fuck independent bookstores". They weren't around when I needed them so why should I care about their fate now.

That's idiotic.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:35 AM
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Apparently, B&N has left downtown Berkeley.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:36 AM
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Michael Powell's greatest innovation was to shelve used and new books together. That computerized inventory has been key to their transition to Internet sales, but it's not quite as accurate as you might think.

Powell trivia: back when his dad ran the store and M. was scouting used books, he won an auction for a lot that included a first edition of The Whale, which he got for a song because none of the other bidders recognized it as the first edition of Moby Dick.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:39 AM
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I suspect the upshot will be even more consolidation in the publishing industry rather than the total disappearance of those backlists, though.

The problem is that the new owners cherry-pick top sellers and drop the rest.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:42 AM
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134: Okay, but non-top-selling backlist titles are likely to go out of print whether there's a merger or not.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:46 AM
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Anyway, my point is that a new owner still has the right to publish the backlist, even if it chooses not to; it doesn't just disappear as it would if the company folded.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:49 AM
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While this has been an unusually pleasant and productive discussion as recent Unfogged threads go, I really should leave it and go to bed. Good night, all.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:51 AM
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Night, teo.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:54 AM
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Data points:
(A) why would one assume that internet booksellers will never implement technology such that the cheerful Kismet of browsing online will match that of a large-scale indie? Have they not solved this problem for (e.g.) everything else?

(B) the funnest book store I've ever been to is as far removed from the traditional metrics of commercial bookselling as it is possible to be, basically. Containerized in the deep desert, it is free to expand in every direction, and since it is patronized mostly by weirdo geezers, you can find, e.g. complete yearly runs of mid-sixties Astounding Science Fiction, implausibly autographed first editions of throwaway Arthur C. Clarke nonfiction paperbacks, and dodgy 500-run self-published guides to marginally existent local ghost towns, all of these niche products that will presumably outlast the googlesque indexing of the used book market, and all of which will probably cost a quarter in perpetuity.

The large, popular, urban indie bookstore that deals in first editions is probably as done for as its record selling counterpart. Who cares?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:58 AM
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Those of us who sell books online are aware that those of you who buy buy books online are increasingly suspicious of us. How do we correct this?

To be fair, there are only a few books I'm thinking of in this category, where the edition information provided online is confusing (more than one edition listed, with varying levels of completeness in the info). As I said, if it's not urgent, I'm fine with waiting to see if I come across it on my own.

I have had the wrong edition come in before, as well as a couple of books come in in what was not what I'd consider "very good" condition; I wasn't naturally suspicious.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:59 AM
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131:

That's idiotic.

Christ, thanks for saying that.

Jesus McQ: it seems to be getting rather late here, and it startles me a bit to hear someone on this blog speaking the language of book scouting.

I was going to add a link to a classic riff by drif, but I can't find it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:00 AM
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The large, popular, urban indie bookstore that deals in first editions is probably as done for as its record selling counterpart. Who cares?

People who like art and music, and like talking to other knowledgeable people who actually live near them rather than thousands of miles away on the internet. People who like having a healthy local economy. People who like the idea of quirky individuals who know a lot about books and music being able to run successful small businesses rather than having to work for minimum wage for a big chain.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:04 AM
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The large, popular, urban indie bookstore that deals in first editions is probably as done for as its record selling counterpart. Who cares?

Yeah, more or less. As long as the large indie used bookstore continues to exist and potentially foster a community of bibliophiles. And as long as people who want first editions can get them online and then sell them to the local used bookstore when they're done. Jesus McQueen seems dubious of these things, though.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:06 AM
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I did some desultory scouting myself, but Powell's was getting big by the time I got to know people there; the scouting business was already pretty demanding and, at estate and library sales, even ruthless.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:10 AM
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People who like having a healthy local economy.

Much like the concepts of "privacy", the concept of "a healthy local economy" seems inevitably doomed to those of us like teo and I who were born in the eighties. Quite unfortunate. It'll return when Peak Oil hits, though.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:10 AM
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144 to 141, obvs.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:11 AM
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Jesus McQueen seems dubious of these things, though.

It's howling at the wind, I guess, but I see it as a net loss and just another sign of the inexorable progress of homogenization and corporate control.

Where's my lance? I've got windmills to tilt at.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:16 AM
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Among signs of the inexorable progress of homogenization and corporate control, though, it's one of the least destructive.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:20 AM
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148: True enough. Having been on the inside for a while, it's just been hard to witness. The idea that books are just commodities is fundamental to the way the business works, but it still sticks in my craw.

Night, peopoe.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:26 AM
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146:

fuck house rules at this point. Yeah, scouting is ruthless, and bookselling has to be sort of ruthless, or at least, er, ever inventive, if you want to actually survive at it.

139:

Who cares?

Sifu, I'm surprised at you. I realize you were talking about -- what, first edition shops? -- and the sorts of purveyors of quirky material you describe in 139(b) are fabulous.

Fabulous, I say! But aren't making a living.

Unless they deal in special things. Which is also hard to make a living at unless you really hustle.

Bookselling is hustling, you know.

Now I'm really tired and must go.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:37 AM
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Damn. I should have stayed up.

Powell trivia: the Powells are ethnic Ukrainians with an Anglicized name (or else Walt was a big fat liar). Walt was impossible to bargain with. "If you want the book enough to argue about the price, someone else probably wants it more". I got exactly one bargain shopping in Powells for 20 years -- Part II of a book of which Part I was never published. Michael Powell's Chicago store was the flagship, and the Portland store a branch run by his dad. Kotsko still shops at the Chicago store. (Another ethnic Ukrainian. Coincidence? I think not).

Online buying keeps indies more or less alive. ABE books especially. A friend of mine formerly around the corner from Powells (Great NW Bookstore) does all his business online now. He sold the storefront.

I have bought 500 or so books online and have been disappointed in quality (marked-up books or proof copies) about five-ten times. The times I remember, I had bought a copy distinctly cheaper than the others (e.g. $5 instead of $10). I only buy "reading copies" (?), however, I'm not a collector. (One time I bought a rare book mislabelled as Part I instead of Part II, but I later was able to sell it for about a 200% profit).

ABE and Amazon Marketplace do have a complaints process and a few uncorrected errors would put someone out of business. As a seller I've had to deal with 2 serious complaints about book condition, and did so promptly to the buyer's satisfaction.

For a buyer things are infinitely, exponentially better now for someone looking for a specific out-of-print book. In my first 2 years of internet buying I bought about 200 books which I'd been looking for for about ten years each on the average.

For sellers, markups are down but turnover is faster. If three copies of a rare book exist in the world, they all compete with one another now, whereas in the old days of physical browsing you'd feel lucky to find any one of the three and you'd have to pay a premium price for it. Some of the oldtime booksellers don't seem to have adapted, so you'll still see the same book at $600 and $200 sometimes.

You can't make much money selling books used as undergrad texts, book club books, or best sellers. Oriental religious books also seem to be glutted when people drop out of the group and sell off their texts, which they aften haven't read. Your best sales are specialized and cult books with a very small but intensely-interested market -- too small to justify reprinting. (In some cases a copyright problem may be involved.)

Everyone in the world now has a source as good as people in Boston, Berkeley, Palo Alto, London, etc. had 20 years ago. I now browse electronically and in the bibliographies of books I'm reading, and then buy from ABE or something like that. Amazon is usually not the low price. (Amazon marketplace is independent booksellers, BTW).

As for new books, the only thing an indie can offer now is a careful selection, with some kind of specialization, including a lot of books by obscure publishers. Bestsellers, where most of the $$$ are, might as well be sold in bulk like potatoes and lumber. Good indies are only possible where there's some kind of density of customers.

Last, Walmart: I usually shop at the small local store, but around here Walmart offers equal or better quality and price, and much more selection. People here will drive 50 miles to shop (not as bad as it sounds, since none of it is city miles.)



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:10 AM
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I don't buy from B&N. But I do buy from Amazon. I suspect that there really isnt much of a difference from a big corp v. little guy mentality. I always forget about Powells.

I do try to regularily support the locally owned kid's book store.

As far as Walmart, my daughter LOVES Walmart with all of her heart and soul. She simply does not understand that she worships the devil. Occasionally, I give into her begging and let her go. (I've convinced her that Walmart is frequently closed.)


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:30 AM
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94: foolishmortal, the used bookstore in Davis Square that you're thinking of is probably McIntyre and Moore. They used to be in Harvard Square on the way to Central, but I bet that the rents got too high.

I think that independent bookstores are dying everywhere--even in places where you would expect them to thrive. I don't know of many in the Boston area. Brookline has Booksmith in Coolidge corner, but I don't know of any others. Even Harvard Square has lost a lot of independent bookstores, and that's a place which ought to be able to support them, but Amazon is a better source for a lot of things--particularly for used textbooks.

The Grolier, which I think is the only all-poetry bookstore in the country, nearly went out of business. They were already getting a break on the rent from Harvard real estate. Schoenhof's remains, because all the instructors of foreign language classes at Harvard (and maybe at other schools) order their books through them.

Wordsworth was an early discounter, and I think that it died because of the rise of Amazon and the resurgence of the Coop under B&N management. It was never great for special orders which weren't discounted. They frequently told me that it would take 6 weeks to get a book in whereas the Harvard bookstore used to do it in a week--even titles from foreign university presses. I think that the Harvard Bookstore survives because of its emphasis on scholarly stuff. The Globe Corner bookstore only does travel stuff, and it's good. The Coop was awful for a long time and lost money for years. 10 years ago members got no rebate, under Barnes and Noble management they do.

There's no good independent general interest bookstore in the area.

Denver, of all places, has a great, huge independent bookstore with a really nice restaurant; I think it's bigger than Powell's. That still sounds like a lot of bookstores, but rents are ruthlessly pushing everything distinctive out of Harvard Square. There used to be a lot more of them. I wonder whether the Harvard Bookstore owns its own building. I think that they purposefully limit their poetry section to help keep the Grolier viable.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 10:14 AM
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the resurgence of the Coop under B&N management

WTF? The Harvard Coop is now run/owned by B&N? That really depresses me.

151: Emerson, I'm not going to argue with a damn thing you say, in part because there's not much to take any serious issue with (this is Unfogged, dammit), but mostly because I live and breathe that stuff, every day.

Fucking shop talk, dude.

This:

For a buyer things are infinitely, exponentially better now for someone looking for a specific out-of-print book.

Is the other reason, besides increasing rents for brick-and-mortar stores who weren't bright enough to own their own buildings, and decreasing foot traffic in our busy busy busy, can't-focus-or-relax-for-very-long society, that b&m stores are closing in favor of internet-only selling:

You can slap up online an utterly obscure geological survey, or some such, that sat on the open shelves at $15, unsold, for 10 years, and sell it on the internets now within 6 months to some sucker buyer in East Orange for $30.

Why would you be trying to sell obscure geological surveys in the first place? Or Cat Dancing books, for that matter? A very good question.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 11:00 AM
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154: Why would you be trying to sell obscure geological surveys in the first place? Or Cat Dancing books, for that matter? A very good question.

What else are you going to do with surveys at Cat Dancing books, if not sell them?


Posted by: hermit greg | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 11:09 AM
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"surveys at" s/b "surveys and"


Posted by: hermit greg | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 11:10 AM
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You can slap up online an utterly obscure geological survey, or some such, that sat on the open shelves at $15, unsold, for 10 years, and sell it on the internets now within 6 months to some sucker buyer in East Orange for $30.

So sellers can get much higher prices over the internet than they used to, and buyers can get much lower prices over the internet than they used to!

On a related note...I have some rare vinyl records. Every now and then in the late 90s I would notice that people would put up lists of records they were auctioning off on their personal websites, or post lists to newsgroups. I thought collectible records was a good business. About a year after eBay appeared, all these things that were being sold on alt.punk.hardcore for $35 were on eBay with an opening bid of $8 and no takers.

So......maybe after eBay has been around for a couple decades, and the market has stabilized so that there are fewer would-be buyers of these but also fewer would-be sellers...my records will be scarce and worth something again. Maybe?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 11:41 AM
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Greg, are you the one who bought that Cat Dancing book, under the buyer pseudonym of "Tammy"?

You are so transparent.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 11:43 AM
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Parsimon,

Is anything available like the the trend in overall sales volume of used books available? Or is the marketplace just too fragmentary for reliable data?

I would be fairly certain than when you get into the specialty "sub-book" genres like geological surveys etc. (or one of my stupid interests, roadmaps) , that the Internet has led to much more buying and selling. The high-end market seemed to always have been there, but I suspect that the buyers and sellers of the cheap stuff were just too sparsely distributed to make carrying the inventory worthwhile.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 11:46 AM
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158: Egads! kitten_twostepurr_13! Small world!


Posted by: hermit greg | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 11:50 AM
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142 People who like ... talking to other knowledgeable people who actually live near them rather than thousands of miles away on the internet.

That's just crazy talk.


Posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 11:54 AM
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159:

Is anything available like the the trend in overall sales volume of used books available?

Not as far as I know. Emerson might know. There are attempts at surveys every couple of years, but getting independent used booksellers to cooperate in them is famously like trying to herd cats.

It's true that the general wisdom is that online used book buying is a major market to be plumbed, or whatever. Yet booksellers are going out of business left and right.

There are, of course, data available from Amazon, but they're a portion of the market, and not a very reliable marker, since their so-called Amazon Marketplace is still at this point chiefly a venue for selling only post-ISBN'd books (post roughly 1973-something). They're trying to get into the pre-ISBN market, but in a hamfisted way so far.

Your roadmaps aren't going to be available via Amazon, obviously. Ebay is a consideration.

I would be fairly certain than when you get into the specialty "sub-book" genres [...] that the Internet has led to much more buying and selling.

I understand what you mean, but I'm actually not certain about this. Obviously, while there's increased access online, it's pretty seriously offset by the fact that people just do not, in our modern society, browse around and buy used books in open shops the way they used to. The majority of book buying now, both online and in open shops, is targeted to specific titles.

I blame Harry Potter.

You're probably in the minority as a buyer. Many people are in eb's camp (upthread): fearful and distrusting of buying online from anything but a branded name. They've been trained to this stance by all the Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid rhetoric.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 12:29 PM
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157:

So......maybe after eBay has been around for a couple decades, and the market has stabilized so that there are fewer would-be buyers of these but also fewer would-be sellers...my records will be scarce and worth something again. Maybe?

Supply and demand, baby.

The market is increasingly saturated. Buyers see that they can lay their hands on something whenever the fuck they decide to, and what they would once jump on for $35 is now a ... meh, maybe, whatever, another copy will show up soon enough.

(Some in the book trade wish there were a bit more hiding of merchandise. Shh, don't tell. Some don't; sit on it and wait for it to regain value.)

Will it ever stabilise? I dunno. Sellers are dropping out, but new ones crop up, and the downward price spiral continues. As long as buyers maintain a Walmart mentality, I don't see it ending.

One thing: the selling venues, Amazon, ABE, eBay and so on, are driving smaller-time sellers out by raising the cut they take.

So sellers can get much higher prices over the internet than they used to, and buyers can get much lower prices over the internet than they used to!

Apples and oranges. Higher prices for obscure material, lower prices for common shit.

On a different note: how in hell did I wind up being a purveyor of goods and talking like this?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:04 PM
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I suspect that there really isnt much of a difference from a big corp v. little guy mentality.

Maybe I'm a stupid dick, but I kind of justify Amazon by thinking of it as a local Seattle business.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:09 PM
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What's a Walmart mentality, in this instance?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:12 PM
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I kind of justify Amazon by thinking of it as a local Seattle business.

I assume you're talking about buying new from Amazon themselves.

But if you're talking about buying used from independent sellers who advertise on Amazon, did you know that many of them (the ones who aren't idiots) raise their prices on Amazon by, oh, say, 25%?

If'n you can figure out how to contact a seller directly, you might can get their direct-sale (cheep cheeper!) price.

You might have to wait a few extra days for yer item to arrive. Though. Sucks, eh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:20 PM
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What's a Walmart mentality, in this instance?

In this instance, it just means that buyers want the cheapest price, instant availability, and convenience.

Your choice! Buy it now! One-click shopping!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:26 PM
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I'm not a real bookseller. I spent 25 years buying books in case I ever had time to read them, and now I'm realizing that I won't live long enough to read them all. Probably I have 50 books I'll sell above cost, and 300+ I'll sell at a loss.

"Obscure geological": my bro the BC geologist (work sin the Yukon) bought a book at Powells called something like "Subsoil Drainage in Subarctic Soils". It got a joke out of the clerk: "That one hasn't been moving as fast as we thought it would". Powells clerks are usually strictly business.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:27 PM
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But if you're talking about buying used from independent sellers who advertise on Amazon, did you know that many of them (the ones who aren't idiots) raise their prices on Amazon by, oh, say, 25%?

I just try to get the lowest price on Amazon, which sometimes is twice the lowest price on bookfinder.com.

Amazon charges independents a higher percent than ABE and allows less shipping cost. Basically, though, I'm trying to sell of my stock as fast as possible.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:31 PM
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B in 164: Maybe I'm a stupid dick, but I kind of justify Amazon by thinking of it as a local Seattle business.

A while ago BuyBlue.org (now defunct) rated Amazon as Republican leaning. It wasn't as bad as Wal-Mart, but it wasn't great. Powell's was considered quite blue.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:32 PM
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if you're talking about buying used from independent sellers who advertise on Amazon, did you know that many of them (the ones who aren't idiots) raise their prices on Amazon by, oh, say, 25%?

If'n you can figure out how to contact a seller directly, you might can get their direct-sale (cheep cheeper!) price.

Cool. In that case, my sloth is helping out an independent seller's bottom line. More power to 'em. (Usually I just buy new, but yes, I've bought stuff used when it was out of print or otherwise unavailable.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:35 PM
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170: People tell me this all the time. I suppose I should switch to Powell's, but then again I know a lot of people who are or have been employed by Amazon.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:37 PM
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Cool. In that case, my sloth is helping out an independent seller's bottom line.

Are we misunderstanding each other? Independent sellers raise prices by 25% because Amazon takes what amounts to a 20% cut. It's no more money in the bookseller's pocket.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:41 PM
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Ah. Well in that case, if it's not *hurting* their bottom line, I'm willing to keep doing it. You underestimate exactly how lazy I am about contacting strangers.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:43 PM
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Powell's was considered quite blue.

Even before an ugly period when management fought employees over the right to unionize, Powell's was famously liberal. Now employees have a union, too.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:53 PM
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You underestimate exactly how lazy I am about contacting strangers.

Witness: Walmart mentality.

(shh. Joke, partially. Looking up a bookseller's independent website and ordering the same book there doesn't amount to much contacting.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 1:56 PM
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I don't go to Walmart, no. And I understand the problem of inertia very well indeed. But since your point is that they raise prices to make up for the difference, I don't see much effect on the bottom line, and if I'm willing to pay the extra so they make a profit, what difference does it make?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 2:03 PM
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if I'm willing to pay the extra so they make a profit, what difference does it make?

They (independent sellers) don't make a profit; Amazon does.

What difference does it make?

Well, B., in a way it doesn't to you. For bookdealers, it means that their books have to remain saleable at a 25% price increase; either that or operate at a near loss if they don't mark up their prices. This prices some sellers out of the market.

It also plugs into the larger issue of enabling middlemen (e.g. Amazon) to mediate, for a percentage, between you, the consumer and the provider.

It's not clear to me how you might look down your nose at those who buy their Harry Potter at Borders or B&N, yet not follow through in your actions by directly interacting with small businesses.

But, you know, consumer behavior is what it is.



Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 2:17 PM
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Many people are in eb's camp (upthread): fearful and distrusting of buying online from anything but a branded name. They've been trained to this stance by all the Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid rhetoric.

I assume that by "they" you mean people not me, as I've never heard such rhetoric. And I make my decisions on whether to buy based on both the book - if there's confusing edition information out there - and the seller, not on a "branded names" basis. I'm just careful, not fearful.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 3:55 PM
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EB, that's been an issue for me, as I said, perhaps ten times out of perhaps 500 buys.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 4:18 PM
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I've never heard such rhetoric

I don't mean to make you stand for all the consumers (isn't that an ugly word?) out there -- apologies.

Generally speaking, though, you probably have indeed heard such rhetoric, whether you notice it or not. It seeps into your BRAIN.

In the specific case, Amazon's own order confirmation emails to customers say something like "you should expect the same level of service from our [sic] sellers that you get from Amazon direct".

Oh, ick.

More globally, everything on the telebision reeks of Be Afraid: they (unspecified, but you know they're out there) are out to get you; identity theft; consumer fraud; protect yourself; protect your kids (keep their environment controlled)!; we monitor the streets to ... protect against ... the terrorists. The bad guys, anyway.

C'mon now, you know this is the atmosphere today; I fear that we've all internalized it to some degree, to my deep sadness.

(/diatribe)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 5:00 PM
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telebision

I think you mean "marihuana."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 5:04 PM
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It's not clear to me how you might look down your nose at those who buy their Harry Potter at Borders or B&N, yet not follow through in your actions by directly interacting with small businesses.

Ditto.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 5:07 PM
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¬°Biolencia!


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 5:08 PM
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What's with the unstated sentiment that personal contact is a good thing? Some internet nerds you all are.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 5:11 PM
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telebision

Intentional, babe.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 5:14 PM
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that's been an issue for me, as I said, perhaps ten times out of perhaps 500 buys

As I said, if it's not urgent I'm fine with waiting to see if I come across it. Any excuse I can find not to buy a book immediately I'll take since I know the odds at this point are that it'll sit for years without me reading it. However, I've had problems at least 5 times out of less than 100 buys. I've either accepted the book - too lazy to call to complain and it was at least readable - or gotten a refund (at least 3 books have never arrived, but a couple never shipped - out of stock after I ordered).


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 5:14 PM
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Intentional, babe.

That's what's disturbing, oldster.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 5:17 PM
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My bad experiences have been with Alibris and Amazon (marketplace), actually. I'm more likely to buy directly from a seller at this point, but I've cut back almost completely on online book buying while I try to read through what I have.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 5:17 PM
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EB, the problem is that God hates you.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 5:23 PM
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God wants me to accept the books I already own.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 5:26 PM
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it's a kids book, there are gonna be kids.

I've been away since last night, and it's probably not worth bothering, but: I know. That's why I didn't go.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 5:39 PM
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That's what's disturbing, oldster.

Disturbing?

It's a term of disrespect. If you can't handle wordplay, you must be shot.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 5:57 PM
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We knew ogged was shot long ago, parsley.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:03 PM
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wordplay

For your own good, I give up.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:10 PM
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Don't be a quitter, obbed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:11 PM
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Ogged sucks at word games.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:14 PM
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Parsimon, you should know that Ben will not help you when you're down, particularly not when to do so would mean siding with me. Perhaps a kinder soul will explain to you the sin that is "telebision."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:20 PM
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We knew ogged was shot long ago, parsley.

I have no desire to shoot ogged.

This "parsley" business, however, I may not be down with.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:25 PM
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I don't claim to speak for parsimon, with whom I've had major disagreements in the past, but to me the primary problem with telebision is that it's mostly watched by ex-crck baby morons.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:25 PM
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199: ya, parsley mon, need garnish for your duchy, mon. (hoarse laugh)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:27 PM
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the sin that is "telebision."

Okay, whatever? Don't care? It's not like I do it often.

If it has some long history, fine, explain.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:28 PM
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to me the primary problem with telebision is that it's mostly watched by ex-crck baby morons.

Ah.

Our wordplay comes from different internet backgrounds, that's all.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:30 PM
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"Crck" ws neither typing error nor wordply. I blme my keybord.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:37 PM
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I have to use at least 4 ply words to clean up the shit that comes out of my mouth.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:39 PM
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201: I'm contacting the Jamaican-North American Anti-Defamation Front. And he's going to be pissed.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:39 PM
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Just tell Ben not to call me parsley. It annoys me.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:40 PM
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206: yet chill!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:42 PM
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I submit that I derive more hedons from calling you "parsley" than you derive anti-hedons from being called "parsley" by me.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:42 PM
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And to the world's ample supply of oxymorons we can now add "hedonistic arithmetic".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:44 PM
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Boy, are you in for a surprise, Sifu.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:45 PM
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And what the fuck is a hedon supposed to be? I can construct something for it, but you excel at the production of anti-hedons when you try.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:47 PM
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I'm not, really. One can always sense if one is in some manner an asymptote.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:47 PM
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212: presumably the quanta of hedonism, indivisible, but containing the Up, Down, Top, Charm, and Strange beers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:48 PM
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In some way different than a util. Perhaps a hedon is 10 mouse orgasms.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:51 PM
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I like the idea of doing a seven dimensional vector integration in order to figure out the most entertaining way to spend one's time, though. No wonder they called it the Enlightenment!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:51 PM
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215: hedons are fuzzy utils, maybe?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:52 PM
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Individuals measure pleasure in hedons, communities measure it in utils.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:55 PM
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So the "m" in "m-fun" stands for "manifold"?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:57 PM
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It's dualistic, idealistic, inflationary, and wrong to speak of hedons or utils except in terms of a common physical measure, such as mouse orgasms. No fiat hedons! Mouse orgasms in Mouse Knox must back all of our ethical calculations.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 6:59 PM
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220: But what kind of mouse orgasms? Really good ones, or just okay ones?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 7:02 PM
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Measure pleasure, measure pleasure.

Idiocy. I did not think that Ben was a closet utilitarian, even in jest.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 7:05 PM
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Generic OK masturbatory mouse orgasms. Not involving romance, foreplay, unmeasured heights of intensity, the earth moving, and shit like that. The histrionic drama queen mouse ladies will be weeded out.

Because of the recharging problem with males, the unit of measure is lady mouse orgasms.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 7:08 PM
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Because of the recharging problem with males, the unit of measure is lady mouse orgasms.

Emerson, you're so charming, I can't imagine why you continue to recall that we've been in dispute in the past. Let it go.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 7:14 PM
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220: mouse orgasms, the unit vector of hedonic space.

∂/∂<parsley>( calling_parsimon_mean_names( <parsley> ) ) > -1*(∂/∂( <parsley> )( inverse(calling_parsimon_mean_names( <parsley> ) ))

for all Eigenvectors in the set { Things w-lfs-n Thinks Are Funny }∩{ Things That Annoy Parsimon }


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 7:21 PM
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After all that fucking around with escape codes, 225 doesn't even make sense.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 7:24 PM
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Nope.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 7:26 PM
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Because a female mouse orgasm contains more hedons than a male mouse orgasm, I conclude that parsimon's discomfort at the nickname outweighs ben's enjoyment of the nickname.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 7:35 PM
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Idiocy. I did not think that Ben was a closet utilitarian, even in jest.

I'm not any sort of utilitarian.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 7:35 PM
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I'm not any sort of utilitarian.

I didn't think you were.

Nor am I any sort of parsley.

Get it?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 7:39 PM
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As the standard for hedons, a mouse orgasm neither is nor is not one hedon in size.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 7:55 PM
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230: so you garnishing his wages in pursuit of a greater good would be a no for both of you?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 7:58 PM
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225.2 is the best of the day, hands down. So what if it doesn't work?


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 8:13 PM
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Re. my hypocrisy:

If I understand what parsimon is saying, then independent booksellers mark up their books about 25% to make up for the 20% fee Amazon levies when they sell a book through Amazon. In other words, *there's no difference in the independents' profit* between selling it through A at a 25% markup and selling it directly without.

So there.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 9:03 PM
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B., yes. There is, though, a difference in what you're contributing to. Pay fucking attention. Some sellers go out of business because the 25% markup is insupportable. People won't buy their books when priced that way. They would if the customers bought directly, without that markup.

I am done with this. It's starting to sound like a whine on behalf of internet booksellers who can't cut it, and frankly, I'm not one of them, but I do feel for them.

Don't quibble about the state of bookstores and bookselling when you don't get what the situation is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 10:09 PM
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Pay fucking attention.

This strikes me as a bit much. B did say "If I understand...."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 10:14 PM
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This strikes me as a bit much

Understood. I apologize to B. for overstating.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-07 10:20 PM
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