The $40 Book

So I just paid $40 (really $42 and change) for a book that I could have gotten for $26 plus free shipping. I had originally borrowed this book from the library and about 50 pages into it I had marked (with post – its!) about 10 different pages. It was pretty clear I needed to own this book. A quick online search told me it didn’t come in paperback, used editions weren’t readily available but I could get it from “The Jungle” for just $26 including a dose of that virtual opiate, “free shipping”.

I have never been a fan of “The Jungle”. I like to buy my books from someone who knows me. My all-time favorite bookstore is City Lights in Sylva. I have been a customer there since I was in college and they were on Main Street. I sell my used books there, buy my (adult) Christmas gifts there, and have been known to have passionate conversations about politics, pregnancy, extended breastfeeding, and yes – books! When I found Spellbound – back on Haywood Road – I remember thinking, “Oh, City Lights for kids in Asheville.”

The first time I remember shopping at Spellbound was one day in December 2004 or 2005. My mother was watching my sons and I decided to do all my Christmas shopping that day. I have seven nephews, one niece and two sons. I buy a lot of Christmas presents, and the majority of these gifts are books. I decided to simplify my life and do all my shopping then and there. Leslie was (and still is) very patient in my constant quest for the best book for that particular child that particular year. She is also very understanding of my odd hangup with spending EXACTLY the same amount of money for children of the same family. She is also indulgent of my self-imposed one hardcover, one softcover per kid rule. This makes for some pretty intensive salesmanship.

I will admit, I HATE Christmas shopping. I am worse than Scrooge. But that day in Spellbound changed holiday shopping for me. I actually enjoyed it. Not only that, I was starting to look forward to shopping for birthdays, graduations, and yes, even next Christmas. Not only that, but my nephews, my niece and my sons loved the books chosen for them. Could I have gotten the books cheaper? Yes. Would I have made the same choices? No. Could I have had the same experience online? Definitely not.

I buy the majority of my books used, buying whatever catches my eye at the Goodwill, library sales and the like. The specific books I want to own, certain authors’ new releases, reference books, books we have renewed one too many times at the library, I buy from an independent bookstore. They are happy to accommodate my requests. I am happy to pay for their services – especially since the exchange invariable leads to the question, “Have you read . . . ?” The rest, as they say, is priceless.

Published in: on June 30, 2009 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

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