View Full Version : Encounter at a Library Book Store--Who's at Fault

08-12-2006, 11:50 PM
I observed this encounter today, and I'd like to get all of your reactions to it:
I was at a used book store run by our county library system, today. Two guys were looking for books. Apparently, they run a book sale operation, and they wanted to find cheap stuff to resale. One had a camera he was using to photograph the books.
After a while, one of the workers confronted them and told them they couldn't buy up a lot of their stock just to resale it. One of the guys responded by telling her something about "This is a public access place."
Soon after that, they left. But the worker told another worker that she sees them come in every Saturday, and they buy up a lot of their stock. I guess she'll order them to leave, the next time they come.
What do you think? It could be argued that they're not doing anything wrong. After all, this store is a not-for-profit operation, and if they want to buy stuff to resale that's their business. The pair of them did act a little obnoxius, though. And the camera was kinda disturbing.

Mixed Bag
08-13-2006, 12:15 AM
Photos in any kind of store are considered taboo without permission, but what actual loss would come to this particular kind of store, which seems not to charge what they could, I don't know offhand; it doesn't sound like there's been strong resistance to these two before.

I find reselling analogous to stalking--I mean scalping :eek: ; if someone can buy a bunch of items cheaply and make a profit off of them, that tells me the original selller isn't charging as much as they could, and why should anyone object, unless they don't like being exposed as not optimally milking the market?

If the reason for charging less is to provide discounts to, for instance, locals, the poor, or library users, then that should be an official and posted part of the library's mission statement and signs should either restrict how many or how often someone can buy (at least at those prices), or indicate that bookstore employees are ineligible, or that those running the sale can use their own discretion, etc. And bring public pressure to bear.

Irving Patrick Freleigh
08-13-2006, 12:27 AM
I think the two guys can do whatever they want with the books after they buy them.

However, I don't think you can just go into a private place like a store and just start taking pictures without permission.

08-13-2006, 02:20 AM
The pictures, definitely a no-no. But I really don't see anything wrong with the guys reselling the books if they paid for them legally.

08-13-2006, 02:45 AM
As far as what I've always been told by corporate LP people - the reselling of items bought in the store is none of our business. People coming in and photographing the stuff is certainly not allowed, although I'm not sure of the legalities for non-profit organizations.

08-13-2006, 02:49 AM
As a book lover, I'm gonna have to come down on the side that the Library Book Store is supposed to be a place for kids or poorer people to be able to get a book for their very own, not a place for a couple of guys to make a buck. My business sense says it's a good idea for them, but it strikes me as similar to Safeway buying a bunch of product from Save-on-Foods and marking the price up because Save-on-Foods is now sold out of that item.

08-13-2006, 02:51 AM
Once someone buys something and actually exchanges money for a product, what's it anyone else's business what you do with it? I think the library is in the wrong here.

08-13-2006, 02:56 AM
I'm with most everybody else.

How much and of what they buy is their business. What they use it for after they pay for it is also their business.

They should have waited to take pictures of it until they got it home (or where ever).

08-13-2006, 04:03 AM
most places (discount places) will have signs up saying they will not supply to trade

if theres a sign up then its all good in my opinion, thats like going to a charity shop like the salvation army and buying their stock up to resale, not illegal, but not exactly ethical either

the stuff is cheap for the less fortunate to be able to afford things and the sallies also get a donation towards their cause

captialistic merchants should stay away IMO :p

Slave to the Phone
08-13-2006, 04:28 AM
What do you think? It could be argued that they're not doing anything wrong. After all, this store is a not-for-profit operation, and if they want to buy stuff to resale that's their business. The pair of them did act a little obnoxius, though. And the camera was kinda disturbing.

As long as the camera guys weren't bothering my other customers and asking me to not sell books until they got the valuation back, I'd lurve those guys. I'd even set up special times for them to look over my old books (after I marked them up ten cents.)

Most people who buy used books just want something to read, and they usually want current stuff. How many people do you all know who goes to Library sales to buy old textbooks and 1999 issues of National Geographic?

Libraries get SO much garbage that the booksales are their last ditch effort to get a dime a book before they pay to have the garbage towed away.

I love books. I love reading. I think that anybody who rescues books from a Library booksale before the books become pulp is a good person. I really don't care much about their motives.

That's just me, tho. Sorry if I came across too strong about the dead book issues.

08-14-2006, 01:14 AM
I do think a council run library is different to a private store. It's not private property. Council property is public property. So that said, while the camera is creepy, there probably isn't much that can be done about it.

As others have said, if they want to resell to make a profit, then obviously there's profit to be made. Either the Library is in it for profit (so put the prices up) or is just trying to get rid of old books (so who cares who buys them and what they do with them?).

08-14-2006, 01:20 AM
Thanks for your responses.
I had a friend who owned a record store, and he would often go to places like that to buy stuff to resell. He wasn't as outragieous as that pair was, though. I recall that other dealers would look through his stock, and he didn't have a problem with it. (He died a few years ago--RIP)

Slave to the Phone
08-14-2006, 04:02 AM
As others have said, if they want to resell to make a profit, then obviously there's profit to be made. Either the Library is in it for profit (so put the prices up) or is just trying to get rid of old books (so who cares who buys them and what they do with them?).

I've worked in 2 Libraries. IME, donated books are sorted by the Tech Service Librarian. S/he doesn't want to bother with books that won't be checked out or will fall apart on the first check-out. The books get tossed into the "sell" bin.

All valuable books will be found at that time and either put into the collection and/or "traded".

S/he will also weed broken/outdated books from the shelves.

Stories of finding one of the original copies of a rare manuscript at a Library booksale are a fabrication nowadays. (and prolly were in the past)

Back to topic, the books then get pawed over by the Library employees. Its one of the perks of the job. If we see fluff we want, we buy it at the bookstore price.

I and many of my coworkers would volunter to pay extra for books we valued, even though the covers were ripped off and the binding broken.

Library booksales get whatever is left after the winnowing process. A book sold is a book saved.


08-15-2006, 02:10 AM
Okay, so the guys were running their own book-sale business, and shopping in the library's used-book store, right? If that's the case, then I'm with Kiwi. What they're doing might not exactly be illegal, but it sucks massively as far as being fair to everyone else goes. Yes, the stuff's mostly beat-up, but I've found a few things in good shape that just didn't ever get borrowed for a long while and taken them home with me.

08-15-2006, 03:32 AM
What business is it of the libraries to tell someone to leave, if they are doiing nothing. I take my camera, just about everywhere, just incase I find a good thing to get a photo off, and ofcourse I don't do it, if I think I am not suppose too.

08-15-2006, 06:00 PM
A simple way to sell books, give the public a chance to buy and still give books a home would be have a staggered system.

Books which have recently gone for sale would have a limit on how many could be purchased per day. Perhaps 10 per day for books which have been on sale a week or less. If book dealers want to invest the time it takes to buy stock ten at a time, fine.

After a week the limit would be lifted and anybody, including book dealers, could swoop in and buy as many as they want.

But I wouldn't care much for book dealers coming in and acting as if they owned the place, as it sounds like these guys were doing. There's nothing wrong with banning picture taking in the stacks either.

I'd even take it a step further and ban cell phone use in the stacks. If a regular customer needs to call Aunt Millie and ask her if she wants a certain novel, that call can be made from the lobby. But if my boss wants me to list off 150 books so he can tell me which five to cherry-pick it's going to be harder to do that if I'm not in front of the books.

08-16-2006, 11:41 PM
Camera is out of line, but I don't see the point in blocking these guys from buying books for resale.

Maybe they have a shop, maybe they sell online. The library could list the books on an online site and sell them that way, probably for more money. But that takes time and staff resources they might not have.

I've picked up used items a few times that I've ended up selling online. Not a huge profit, but it helps support my reading and collecting habit.

Dips has a good idea. A lot of clearance stores have a similar system. For 2 to 4 weeks it's the original price, and the date is printed on the ticket. Then every week or two, the price is dropped another 10% or so. You (I mean non-SCs) can figure out how much the price is or will be, then you can take the risk of leaving the item in the store for the price drop, or buy it when you find it. This way the staff doesn't have to keep going through the merchandise and remarking it every week.

My favorite local bookstore is 75% used and 25% new books. They accept used books for trade. If they don't want the book, they tell the customer that they are willing to donate it to the library for the book sale if the customer just doesn't want the book anymore. And they do it regularly. I think it works out well for everyone.:)

08-17-2006, 02:16 PM
The same thing is done in some used record stores I've been to in London. They'll start out with one price. If it doesn't get sold in a couple weeks, they lower it. A couple weeks more and they lower it again. I've gotten some great values that way!

08-17-2006, 02:48 PM
What do you think? It could be argued that they're not doing anything wrong. After all, this store is a not-for-profit operation, and if they want to buy stuff to resale that's their business.

They aren't doing anything wrong. Once the money is exchanged, they become the owner of the product...and can do whatever they want with it. The store's status as a "non-profit operation" has no bearing on that. How is this any different from the people who buy those $5 model kits (or other cheap crap) at Wal-Mart...and then list the item in their "store" on Ebay?

They were wrong about the camera though--quite a few places don't allow cameras. They can be used to 'case' a store for a future robbery/break-in.

I've picked up quite a few things at "thrift" stores over the years--boxes of Legos, model cars, furniture etc. Do I get hassled because I'm in some of them frequently--usually on the weekends? No, the employees don't care, they simply want to sell their crap, and I usually get a deal on it.

Last month while on vacation, I bought an old diecast (metal body, for those non-modeler types) VW Beetle model that someone was selling in an "antique" store. It was in pretty good shape, considering it was about 30 years old. Because it was somewhat dirty, and metallic brown, nobody seemed to want it, and it had been marked down to less than $20. Since the Bug is one of my favorite cars, I bought it, and a red one in slightly worse shape, for a grand total of $20. The store owner didn't care--he'd had "those damn cars" for months and was happy to be rid of them.

Once cleaned up, I had someone offer me $50 for the red one. I declined, not because I could "rip someone off," but simply because I don't sell my cars.

What I'm trying to say is, that it's all supply and demand. If I have something, and someone wants it badly enough, they'll pay whatever I'm asking. There's nothing "unethical" about that. It's simple economics.

08-17-2006, 07:10 PM
The only excuse I can think of to take pictures in a store is if you're either an art student or just like the patterns. I've asked for, and recieved, permission to photograph a whole tablefull of cups of tiny beads arranged in rainbow colour, and those big racks of expensive Jelly Beans. I keep the pictures cause they're pretty, and even so I had to show the bead piccy to the owner to make sure I wasn't stealing designs. I deliberately didn't get in any of the finished necklaces hanging on the wall because I knew she wouldn't like that, so she let me go on my way.

Mark Healey
08-18-2006, 06:51 AM
I'm one of those resellers and there are some things people here need to know.

Books are what I know so I will limit myself to them.

Libraries get far more donations than they can reasonably handle, most of it crap.

They could shelve everything at used retail prices but they would quickly run out of space and wind up dumpstering most of what comes in once the space is filled.

They could shelve everything at used retail prices and throw out old stock as new comes in but then they would be throwing away good merchandise in less than a week (given the amount of space they have), including some specialty titles that can sit on a stores shelf for years before the right customer comes in.

If you go to enough library stores/sales you realize soon that the non-dealer shoppers (mostly grannies and brood mares) don't spend enough for it to be worth the effort.

At a good sale I will spend hundreds of dollars.

My advice to people who run the stores is to price them at used wholsale (1/6 current new price) for a week then mark them down to half that for a week then dumpster them.

Numerous times I've seen thrift stores get new management who decide to raise book prices to what they see in the used book stores. The books stop moving, the revenue falls and they eventually take the dealers's advice and start pricing them lower.

As to the guys mentioned in the previous post, they are amateurs. They are going to go home and look up the books on varioun internet sites, not knowing how to interperet the data intelligently, and come back to buy the ones they think they can sell at a profit. To their dismay they will find that the good ones have been bought by someone who knows what he is doing and the ones left won't sell at they price they think it will.