When does bulk buying for your bookshop get out of hand?

One of the challenges of selling books in either a retail setting or an etail setting is finding stock. I’ve been offered books on many occasions and their condition and genre has been variable. One friend asked me to come out to her mother’s house as they’d had to put her in a home as her dementia was at that point where they could no longer look after her. Her father had died some time ago and as her mother didn’t understand they were clearing out the house and preparing it for sale. She found out I sold books after another dealer had been and he’d left a large number of women’s magazines and part-work magazines as well as various other books. I took the lot, the women’s magazines went to the op shop where they sold nicely. The part-work magazines helped me become the Australian Distributor of www.partworks.co.uk which specialises in connecting new owners with pre-loved part work magazines.

One friend put me in touch with another friend moving to Switzerland who very kindly called me out to his house and let me have several boxes of quality science fiction including some Edgar Rice Burroughs, all in decent condition for their age. I often wonder if I’m in decent condition for my age. This, in turn, led to another lovely man who’s supplied me with some other quality science fiction and some mysteries and likes me so much he’s going to refer me to some friends of his in the area who also have extra large book collections that should be culled at some point.

One of my problems is that I absolutely adore buying books in bulk and that has gotten me into trouble at times. I’ve blogged about these times on my own blog and you can read about them there, but I’ll make quick mention of the first and biggest one that had me stymied. It was a win on an online auction site. The listing was for 2,000+ books and I won it for some ridiculously small amount, totally stunned at that as I kept on reducing my top price before I actually put in my bid. When I got there, with my nephew for muscle, there were more like 4,500 books. I know it’s not a lot compared to some other people’s buys but it was a lot for me at the time, bear in mind I was really only starting out and I used to buy a handful of books at a time at op shops and garage sales. I was floored and unable to deal with them for some time.

This is absolutely nothing compared with a story a friend shared with us on a forum. It sort of puts all of my collection and bulk buys into perspective. Anyway, they were called to this falling down trashed shed in the middle of nowhere, the windows had no glass, the floors were rotting away, there was no electricity, no running water and it was in
the hills so very isolated. There were somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 books but it was impossible to look at them in detail and get any idea of the numbers as there were so many problems. They had been sitting there for about 10 years without human interference and the rats, mice, snakes, bugs and other interesting critters had taken over.
There were snake skins, droppings from various creatures, smells and rain damaged boxes. They did actually open some of those old archive boxes, about 50 of them, might as well since they’d made a long trip out there. Most of the books were useless, out of the 50 odd boxes they opened they found nothing they could have taken away with them and were hopeful that maybe 2% of the books might have been okay, but the emphasis in on the word ‘might’ as there was so much smell that it had almost certainly permeated any of the books that were still in a sellable condition, thus
making them unsellable. There are so many ways of storing books and this is not one of them. Myself or one of the other authors on this blog might discuss some better methods of storing books in the future.

I sell pre-loved books and part-work magazines online. Should you be interested in reading more about my bulk buys you can find me on http://suzsspace.wordpress.com/.

Suzie Eisfelder
Suz’s Space
Your online home for pre-loved books and part-work magazines

Twitter: twitter.com/SuzsSpace

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  • Dear Suzie,

    Since I started in the book business on a small scale… buying a few at a time from various libraries and used merchandise stores… etc., I have had a few interesting experiences as well. One friend of a friend was planning an estate sale with a ton of very large art books. I took a look but was in no position to buy such a large number of very huge books.

    My question is: Can you give advice for dealing with estate sales? These people are rather difficult to deal with especially involving family matters, and one has to tread very carefully on their sacred ground which is often a barn like your example or sometimes a person’s home or basement full of books. How does one go about making this type of bulk buy? What is a good price to offer for older books which have been sitting for ten or twenty years?

    Louis G.

  • […] posts as they are published so that you won't miss a thing. Thanks for dropping by!I wrote about buying books in bulk sometime ago and had a comment on it.  I’m not used to getting comments on articles so I […]

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