Taking the Mystery Out of the Book Scout
One of the most frequently asked questions in my bookstore is “Where do you get all your books?”
The answer is #1. book sales #2. from customers who want to sell their books #3. from my book scouts #4. donations.
Every bookdealer has behind-the-scene scouts, even if they are just family members. Once you have done a little book scouting you are hooked forever. It may be something primitive in our DNA, the old hunter-gatherer instinct. It is the most fun aspect of being a bookdealer…the thrill of taking your knowledge of books, hoping for some modicum of luck, and going out into the world searching that rare first edition or other remarkable prize.
But that is not all we look for. A used bookstore must keep up its general inventory. It may not be too obvious, but unlike a new bookstore that orders bestseller books from an intermediary warehouse supplier, a used bookstore must HUNT for all of its stock.
What books do we seek? I have a four page list. Other dealers have their own ideas and favorites. Often we are looking for the very same books. Generally we are a step behind the bestseller list. People buy the book new. Once read they decide whether it is good enough to keep in their library. The most popular books do not usually show up until six months to a year later.
I have three intrepid book scouts. They are my hunting dog pack. I show them the list (give them a sniff of the prey) and off they go. My scouts are already knowledgeable in what books should be in a bookstore. Each has knowledge in a special field or two.
Let me introduce you: (All descriptions written by a ghost writer.)
The Artless Dodger
This elusive character occasionally emerges from the murky shadows of obscurity to deplete the local supply of reading materials both esoteric and exotic. It is his purpose to provide items not easily found through conventional means for those who are drawn to the arcane. Ever the cunning skulker, this mysterious figure’s identity remains so unclear that even he does not know who he is.
Inspector Agatha Holmes-Marple
No book evades the shrewd investigative eye of Inspector Holmes-Marple. No detail goes unnoticed, no volume left unscrutinized. All are suspects. Due to their elevated level of intellectual content, some of these may have concluded that they are beyond apprehension. Their arrogance is not rewarded for they have failed to take into account the nearly superhuman abilities of the Inspector. This error becomes clear as they are taken into custody. Great numbers of fugitive books have been brought to justice and detained on the shelves of The Eclectic Reader due to Holmes-Marple’s relentless pursuit. When she is on the case, attempts to avoid detection are futile undertakings, indeed.
The Silver Fox
Utilizing his considerable SpecOp skills he launches devastating raids on thrift store bookshelves, appearing out of nowhere to inflict maximum damage, leaving nothing of tactical advantage. This stealthy biblio-warrior possesses an uncanny ability to select targets of critical value to readers.