From time to time we like to post profiles of used bookshops. If you ever find yourself in the area please pop in on these great little places, we need more of them and they need your support. Of course I don’t need to say this to other used book dealers, you guys are crazy for these places and likely would drive a hundred miles if you find out about a new shop, but if you are a casual buyer of experienced books then please continue making the effort. The small shop owner needs more visits from you (and bring a friend).
We recently received a note from Therese Holland of McLeods Books, Melbourne Australia. She casually mentioned that about once a year she would fly to the US to purchase 10 000 books for her small shop. Holly Cow. I thought that was a little unusual and asked if she’d mind sharing the details with you guys. Here is Therese’s reply and please do pop in on her if you are in the Melbourne area.
I used to buy Mbags full of books from sellers in the United States when it was a princely $1.05 per pound for surface mail print post but I heard through the grapevine that surface mail was going to be abolished in May 2007. A few of us had said we would go over and buy books and send them back but never did anything about it. I really, really wanted to go and I have a pocket full of frequent flyer points to get me there.I asked about coming over on the eBay US booksellers board and got some really great responses with one ebayer sending me a message that if I wanted to come across her way she would take me round (in exchange for a little Aussie culture for her kids). We were able to go across school holidays so it worked out well. I had seen her post on the boards a few times and she seemed to be a really nice person -anyhow I took the plunge and found myself and my son in Iowa in April 2007.
The eBay bookseller was indeed the salt of the earth she came across as on the boards. We are still great mates and I have been over to see her twice since. The kids have managed to get a little info about Australia including taking my son to school as their show-and-tell. We have a great time book hunting together, we don’t overlap much on what we are chasing (do a bit of you take that oh you can take it if you need it) and we have a nice little partnership going and chat online most days. Once I got a hang of the Mbag thing and found a good PO back in Chicago I hit a few more sales and found another bookseller in Arlington Heights who I also visit on my return trips. I made a few mistakes on the way -for example Mbags and very heavy books are not a good idea.
After that trip I didn’t know how I was going to ship books home but word of mouth found me a good shipping agent that could ship out of Chicago so the last two trips I have been filling up a container and sending it home.
I remember the first time I went over I turned my nose up at a bookcase full of Oprah titles, big mistake -now anything Oprah I take. I mostly buy paperback fiction for my Bricks and Mortar and if I spot something that would do well online, well that is a bonus.
Of course book selling is constantly changing and maybe shipping books home may not work next year but at the moment is it is a great way for me to get books that I can sell that are not so easy to come by at home.
I really enjoy the business. I had a serendipitious moment in 2006 when I was desperate to leave my old job bought a book at McLeods during my lunch break and said to the owner John McLeod I have so many books I need a bookshop and John said you can buy mine if you like and I said how much and he said a sum and I said okay and he said I will get the papers drawn up and the rest is history. And yes that is exactly how it happened!
10 Station St
McLeods eBay Store