Slate Explains Why Used Book Sales Are For Chumps

Have you ever combed a used-book rack and come up with nothing but the uncorrected proofs for a novel written by the guy who won the first Survivor? Slate explains in a recent essay why your scheme to secure pre-owned books at cut-rate prices was doomed from the get-go: professional used-book sellers. They’re scouting, they’re busy and there’s no way you can compete.

A gentleman who has some 1,000 books listed on Amazon’s second-hand Marketplace wrote the piece, called “Confessions of a Used-Book Salesman.” Armed with a PDA that will tell him the value and popularity of a given book, based on its bar code, he roams book sales and confesses to making a decent living. “If I can tell from a book’s Amazon sales rank that I’ll be able to sell it in one day, I might accept a projected profit of as little as a dollar,” he writes.

But he was once a reader, and he envies them!

When I work with my scanner and there’s someone else shopping near me who wants to read books, I feel that my energy is all wrong-high-pitched, focused narrowly in the present, and jealous. Someone browsing through books does it with a diffuse, forgetful curiosity, a kind of open reckoning that she learned from reading.

Not mentioned: the fact that she’ll never find anything because he’s already completely picked over that pile.

Earlier: The Strand Resorts to Luring Customers With Candy

Slate Explains Why Used Book Sales Are For Chumps