Posted By DMB

Another common misconception that I have heard many times over the years is the erroneous regular accusation that booksellers raise prices on their books before a bookfair. My own regular response to this canard is as follows. You live in this city, you frequent the bookshops, you very probably have seen books in various shops that you covet. Maybe you have coveted them for a long time, but have resisted due to price – or other reasons. Imagine this: you visit a booth at a fair, see a book which you know was recently priced at 1/3 or ½ of its price at the fair; or afterwards, the next time you are in that shop, you see the same book back at half or a third the price you saw at the fair. My questions are these: would you then continue to frequent a bookshop when you had this clear evidence that the dealer was a sleazebag or a gouging crook? And further, would you not refuse to even attend any bookfair ever again, assuming, reasonably, that all the dealers were also doing that and all were sleazy crooks as well? Would you not more probably conclude that the entire trade is made up of rogues and scoundrels, and desist from bookcollecting entirely? I expect I would. One would have to conclude that any person who did believe all these things would indeed be a fool – at least if they did not immediately dismiss all used and rare bookshops.

I could go on with quite a few more examples of common assumptions which, if true, would also be compelling proof that these same booksellers universally believe that you and all their other customers, are stupid. And, since there is a finite pool of potential collectors in any society, if any of those things true, we dealers would be effectively committing business suicide. Yet every bookseller receives many hints these things are common assumptions. Perhaps it is a justified assumption since we live in a society where we all are afraid to call a plumber or an electrician or take our car in for repairs. And where the 6 O’clock news broadcast tells us daily about innocent citizens cheated on their roofing or their furnace.

What bugs booksellers is that no one ever makes these accusations directly to us, so we could defend ourselves. For myself I have a hundred retorts for such things, but have never had a chance to use any of them.

The crooked bookseller? Yes? Well, show me a wealthy one. Why have all the used bookstores disappeared? Why didn’t they buy a building with all that money they stole instead of always renting and getting kicked out, because they couldn’t pay the rents that normal businesses do?

There are lots of what I call stupid bookstore assumptions, so many that I’m compiling another pamphlet to point them out. Stay tuned! 

 
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