Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The quandry of thrift store book prices

It was about a month ago when I stepped into a local Goodwill, promptly making my merry way back to the book section. This particular Goodwill was a place I'd found many good books for my own collection as well as for resale. I scanned through the books and found a couple of interesting ones and headed up to the cashier. She gave me the total: "That will be $4.28."
I said, "What?"
"Our paperback books have gone up to $1.99 per book and the hardbacks are $2.99."
"I can't do that," I answered back. Paying $4 for two paperbacks was not something I really wanted to do in Goodwill. I was taken aback at their new book prices.
Apparently I am not the only one who feels frustrated over Goodwill's new higher book prices. Others in the store were complaining also.
I went back a couple of weeks later just to have a peek to see if there was anything to make my day. I didn't find anything but noticed that many newer and popular paperback books were just sitting on the shelves. No one was buying them. As more and more people begin to find out about the higher pricing, they won't be buying as many books as they once did. I think this won't be good for Goodwill. And I personally thought it was a bad choice for several reasons. First, we live in an economically depressed area where high paying jobs are hard to come by. We are the second poorest county in my state. Children in my city go to school hungry and without proper school supplies.
Raising book prices at thrift stores has its unfortunate consequences in that poorer people who shop at thrifts for books because they are the only place they can afford to buy them won't have as many affordable places to obtain books for their kids. Raising prices even a dollar or more can hurt the working poor.
I'll be watching the Goodwills in the next couple of months to see if they have the same books sitting on their shelves.
Perhaps I'm a bit cynical, but I find the greed of the larger thrifts to be ever increasing.
In a small town not too far from here is a Waterfront Mission, a religious based thrift store. Waterfront Mission charges different prices for its books. Hardbacks are usually $2.00 unless they decide for some strange reason to put a $5 or $10 price on a hardback because it's big.
What's the worst thing anyone could do to books besides tear them up? Mark in them or on them. Waterfront will sometimes mark books with a permanent black marker. Some Goodwill stores do this as well. The other day, I found an antique book from 1902 with poetry by some famous guy (can't recall now) - lovely cover in gold gilt, small book in blue cloth. I would have purchased it for $1.19. But it was $2.99. And an employee had put a nice large "K" on the spine of this 100 plus year old book. So I placed it back on the rack and decided to leave.
These are the times when I get a little frustrated. Don't get me wrong, I love book scouting. But sometimes it's frustrating to see these books marked up with black marker by the employees.


If you want to do something to an old book, you can be creative. Here's a great example. Now some people get upset when books are altered and used in art projects. I have no problem with it. I'll address the issue of using books in altered art projects in a future blog. In the meantime, enjoy this video on how to make a book purse.

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