Friday, January 20, 2012

Sign of the Times

Many moons ago, before I even worked at the Booksmith, I came here regularly to unload my books in the UBC. I'm from a smallish town in the Northwest, so when I came into the store with a book SIGNED by the author, I thought Carl, the buyer at the time (and now my colleague!) would be so IMPRESSED, so EXCITED, that he would buy the book and put it in a special glass case for all to marvel upon. My fantasy was short lived as I pointed out the book was signed to him and he simply shrugged.

How could he not care that the author who wrote this book ALSO SIGNED HIS NAME IN IT?! Now that I've been around for a bit, I've come to understand that it was because 1) there are a lot of authors in the area, and a lot of signings, so signed books ain't so rare and 2) not all authors are created equal (story of my LIFE), and the only authors whose signatures are worth $$$ are sadly but-a-handful.
cartoon by Andrew Weldon
I'd say that the mission of the Used Book Cellar is to contain books you want to read, or will want to once you see them because they are weird and/or unique, and at a good price. We're a general-interest kind of shop, no super-academic books, no ultra-rare and expensive things. We're more about reading and less about making a museum to the book object. So we pass on a lot of antiquarian, rare books that may be worth a lot because we're more interested in carrying books for readers. If you have a signed book, we might take it because we think it will sell, but unfortunately only in extremely rare cases will an autograph affect the book's value. We get more offers from people who want to sell us signed books than we get requests for people who want to buy signed books. It's basically just a supply-and-demand thing. Nothing personal!

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