Today, we had a little girl in our shop (about 8 or 9 years old) who said she had some books she wanted to sell and would I be interested. I looked at them and they were, quite frankly, not worth anything – even someone like me who specialises in new books and is still on a steep learning curve as far as second hand book is concerned could see that.
I looked at this little girl’s face. There was a look of intense concentration and worry there. So rather than say “Sorry, they’re not worth anything”, I ended up offering her more than I’ll probably get for them myself. Her face lit up, her eyes glowed and the smile spread across her face. And she thanked me.
And then a few minutes later, her mother came in and thanked me.
As I say, I’ll never be rich.
But there are more important things than money.
2 thoughts on “Does being a cold-hearted businessman have a place in bookselling?”
I disagree – you are already rich!
But for the mostpart, I do agree, there are many things more important than money.
We operate on a Zen-like principal. I tell our staff the bookbuying part of our business is sometimes much more of an art than a craft in its application.
Most of the books we see are going to be just “more of the same” so don’t get too wrapped up in the process.
Some people will tell you they really need the money and others will tell you they just want to get rid of the books.
Just pay what the books are worth – the figure should be the same in either case.
Forget yourself and then forget the person across the desk from yourself – let the books tell you what they are worth.
We have been around long enough to know things will balance out in the long run and overpaying can have its own rewards – money alone couldn’t buy what that little girl and her mother gave you … but then, what you gave them was at least as equally precious … and you threw in some cash to boot.
Thanks a lot for that comment George, well said. Your website looks terrific.
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