The 1st of September heralded the start of my new three year lease. I have been at my current location for four years and am giving this location three years to get its act together. We were rumbling along okay until the train under the road project which commenced last June saw our passing trade plummet. We are slowly getting back on our feet but a strip shopping centre can be fickle. Icy weather last week saw our customers stay away in droves but now spring is in the air and more people are out and about.
Changes to the eBay Australia media rates have also lead to an upswing in online sales despite intense competition from the dreaded drop shippers. It really irks me that I have to charge the Goods and Services Tax of 10% when I am undercut by those that don’t have to, or may have to, but haven’t bothered to get registered.
I’ve been selling the usual suspects in the shop, Lee Child, Maeve Binchy, Wilbur Smith, David Baldacci etc paperbacks I would not put on line but do well for me in store. No offence guys but Australian domestic postage makes selling second hand paperbacks somewhat problematic. My classics also do quite well and I struggle a little to keep a decent supply but have found ordering in new budget editions allows me to keep a decent selection.
In fact September looks like being a very good selling month as I have just sold one Dutch and one Polish language novel. I made sure to tell the customer I have LOTS more Polish language books. When I start selling the weird and the wonderful I am really moving them out.
I cannot get enough Bukowski or Capote or Kerouac or Hunter S Thompson, they just don’t come in second hand and everybody wants them. The first time I went book buying in the States I thought the book stores would be littered with second hand copies but if I picked up 10 books in total in my three state odyssey I would have been lucky.
When I called in at the wonderful but no defunct Long Beach Books and asked for Beat authors the lady at the counter asked me if I wanted fishing books. I blame my execrable Aussie accent, though luckily another customer was able to interpret for me. Beat books not Bait books, you know.
That afternoon I spent out the back of Long Beach Books is a memory I will always treasure. I loved the orange crate book shelves. I loved the possibility that the book I was buying might have been sitting on the shelf for decades just waiting for me. I had a customer looking for Tallulah Bankhead’s autobiography and Long Beach Books was looking like my only hope before I flew home. After a little poking around I found a copy for just $6. I posted it home in a priority box as my container was somewhere between Chicago and Los Angeles and my excess luggage was already, you know, excessive. Tallulah arrived at home a few hours after I did. In the meantime my customer had moved to Sydney but I hung on to it as I figured he might come back for it. Two years later I finally managed to unite book and new owner (and get the balance he owed on it)
Visiting Long Beach Books was like getting to visit the Taj Mahal of second hand book stores, that and Barrons Books in Anaheim where I bought several Mbag full of books in the last couple of weeks surface Mbags were still in existence. The seemingly endless expanses of rows upon rows upon rows of books to someone coming from an single overstuffed couch of a bookshop (just an 80 square metre space) was a delightful experience.
Where am I going to find the likes of these stores again?
10 Station St
open 7 days