Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rant: Used Book Dealers

I have a cold. Ergo, I am crabby. Ergo, I want to complain about something. I am convinced that all great reformers had perpetual head colds.

Where do used book dealers get off? I mean SERIOUSLY! Used car dealers don't key their name on the doors of their merchandise! Thrift shop owners don't write the price in black magic marker on the front of every piece of clothing. And yet used book dealers seem to think nothing of defacing the covers of their stock!

Here are some of my biggest pet peeves:

1. Stickers that don't peel off easily and leave fuzzy remains and sticky adhesive patches on the covers.

Exhibit A: Does it really cost that much to get stickers that peel off?

2. Using a fat black marker on the cover

Exhibit B: They've already got a huge sticker - couldn't they have used it to cover the barcode and forgone the marker?

3. Making a HOLE in the cover.

Exhibit C: What's the matter, guys, couldn't get your big, nasty sticker to stretch far enough? Or was it just a love affair with a hole punch?

4. Stickers whose adhesive is so powerful IT TEARS THE BEAUTIFUL FRONT COVER with any attempt to remove it.

Exhibit D: Weep with me. Just Weep.

It's not that I don't appreciate used bookstores and sellers. Believe me, on a graduate student stipend I give them a LOT of business. But does having used merchandise mean it's ok to vandalize it?

(I should qualify that not all used book dealers are offenders. Half Price Books, for example, does a pretty good job of using small, easily peel-offable stickers.)


  1. Haha! I love this post. And I love the pictures to go along with the rant. Used college bookstores are THE WORST for these kinds of offenses.

  2. So true!!! And they really squeeze you on very battered copies.

  3. Tip from a former bookstore employee--paint thinner can help get most of those nasty stickers off, including the gummy stuff, and evaporates completely without leaving stains on the covers. :)

  4. Great post. I have NOT bought books because of stupid stickers. Rachel, good advice on the stickers. I worked at a bookstore too and never heard that one!

    BTW,I have stopped shopping my formerly favorite used bookstore because the owner launched into an anti-ebook/Nook/Kindle rant the last time I walked through the door. As if my Kindle was showing...

    He thinks the Nook and Kindle are just a passing phase... I think he needs serious help.

  5. Yeah. E-readers are NOT going away. (Maybe you had a scarlet K on your jacket? Hee hee.)