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View Diary: All Things Bookstore: Bookstores I Have Loved & Lost (130 comments)

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  •  Twice Sold Tales in Seattle (3+ / 0-)

    I managed the Capitol Hill store on Broadway and John in the 1990s (before the store had to move to a lesser location because it was torn down for the light rail line). We sold used books – hence the name, “Twice Sold Tales.”

    Certain books would always go in the window if we thought they would sell quickly. Anything about Wiccans or Anton LaVey or crystal magic. Anything old and collectable by Philip K. Dick (a classic science fiction author from the 50s and 60s).  Anything related to LGBT issues (Capitol Hill is the gay part of Seattle). Grateful Dead books. Madonna’s Sex book (with the aluminum book cover). The Oxford English Dictionary. I hate to admit it, but Ayn Rand was very popular, too. We'd put those books in the window and they would sell. I remember we put a book in the window about the Marquis de Sade. The book was about 500 pages and it was called "Sade." Someone walked in the store and asked to see the Sade book (but she pronounced it Shar-day, like the singer Sade, who was popular in the 1990s).

    We had rules about buying books. Never ever buy a romance (they didn’t sell well for us – except for Diana Gabaldon). For most fiction, we wanted no more than three copies of a book, unless it was really hot. We’d always buy Strunk and White’s Elements of Style (because there were college students who had to have it for classes – inventory would build up during the year, then disappear in September). Computer programming books get outdated, so only buy them if they’re less than two years old (but always buy Kernighan and Ritchie’s book about C programming). There were lots of other rules (which everybody learned eventually).

    I convinced the owner of the store to pay more than minimum wage. We paid more than most other bookstores. So employees tended to stick around. They didn’t quit. They got to be pretty good about recommending books and knowing how to find them. And because people didn’t quit, we didn’t have to spend a lot of time training people.

    Some customers would come in just to see the cats. Or they’d sit in a chair and read a book. Or to hang out with the guy who worked the overnight shift. In other words, people would just come there to spend time, but not money. And that was fine.

    It was a really great bookstore (back in the 1990s).

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 11:21:59 PM PDT

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