Used bookstores have bigger fans than I. Used bookstores aim to satisfy a different kind of shopper — the open-minded dawdler.
The OMD shopper is a special variety of the OMD person. Most OMD people will crack under the pressure of shopping conditions; when faced with the added pressure to buy, they will become speedier, more purposeful people. Only the OMD shopper-type, the most hardcore of the open-minded dawdlers, will remain. Whether their wallets are full or empty, they will ignore the front door, the cash register, the proprietor, and the balance of their day.
But I am not that type of person. I think used bookstores are massively blown opportunities to sell me books. I like books. I enjoy them. But when you take a desired book and bury it like pirate booty, I am not willing to cross the seven seas to find it. If a bookseller wants to sell me a book, such seller should make it easy for me. How could this goal be achieved? Putting the books in sort of order, for instance. Or perhaps providing a sign directing me to different areas of the store. Even, maybe, having a list of all the books in the store could be helpful. I realize all of these suggestions are anathema to OMD shoppers and the booksellers they patronize. But people, please. Throw us a bone.
Visiting historic Stone Mountain, Ga., yesterday, I stopped in the “Memorable Books” store. The store’s book count, according to the Georgia Antiquarian Booksellers Association: 25,000 hardbound, 6,000 softcover. The shelves were packed, all the way to the 15-foot ceiling. (There was a ladder available in the back of the store.) In front of the shelves were piles of more books, each pile rising up and blocking the bottom 3-4 feet of the shelves. The aisles were wide enough for one person to walk through sideways. It was an OMD shopper’s dream.
After half an hour of claustrophobia, I found the music section. Seeing the letters “RSH” sticking out from a pile, I pulled out Dave Marsh’s Heart of Rock & Soul. I had previously read his list of the 1001 greatest singles ever, but here in this book he spent 700 pages chronicling their stories. Store proprietor George Hoak took my $12.84 and let me leave. My success disturbed me.