Used Bookstores

She had a kind heart, though that is not of much use when it comes to the matter of self-preservation. – Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bookshop

‘Why do you buy books you don’t even read?’ our daughter asks us. That’s like asking someone who lives alone why they bought a cat. For company, of course. – Sarah Addison Allen, The Sugar Queen

I’m back from having a few days off from the world. Cleared my head. Read a few pages. Had my fav dish in the whole world or at least in my part of the world. I live for this meal and I’m never disappointed. I eat it with my eyes closed so I can enjoy each and every mouthful. And then walk it all off! Not a beach but in this case to the local theater to hear author, Lee Child. I have never picked up his books except to shelf but now I have to. What a down-to-earth author. He came across as clever and fun. So I need to look through my stock and see what I have of his and start in.

During this trip I stopped in a number of used bookstores. This trip was different as I cut the number down to just three. I’m a shop owner who sticks to a budget and I met that amount with the three shops. One store is in the middle of closing his physical shop, one recently moved to a smaller and less rent space (his third such move in fifteen years), another has changed its focus and concentrates on only one subject matter. All are trying to survive and live their used bookstore dream. It is certainly a time to readjust one’s business plan. Actually I’ve changed my plan multiple times throughout the years. One has to in this market. I’m in the middle of adapting another change but frankly I’m not sure which way to go or how to handle things.

OCUB has met multiple goals that I set over the years. Many were simple such as keeping it open my first year. The early days were a struggle because no one was coming in. I constantly changed the Main Street window display so those passing by would notice that someone different is running the store. I constantly added inventory. Daily. Something I still do. I had to work an extra year at my previous employment to cover store bills. That was hard because I was leaving a job I loved but it was time to move on. It was a leap of faith to believe the store would start paying for itself. But it did!

We recovered from moving from Main Street – no one wants to leave Main Street! – to the MarbleWorks. It took several years for customers to find the store but they did. We could expand and by rights we should. But it would mean higher costs. I don’t want to make that jump. The store is maxed but yet the size is doable when I’m working alone.

We are hanging in. But soon a decision will need to be made.

Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world! – Neil Gaiman

Piles and Boxes

antiquarianpile.There weren’t any curtains in the windows, and the books that didn’t fit into the bookshelf lay piled on the floor like a bunch of intellectual refugees. – Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

I didn’t imagine that I would be a used bookstore owner of such a jumble of a store. Piles of books here. Piles there. In boxes. Out of boxes. Piles constantly around my feet. Piles on piles. Boxes piled with piles of books atop. Bought a stool so as to sit up at the counter and it is piled with books.

What are the piles? Piles to be sorted. Piles to be shelved. Piles to be cleaned. Piles to be looked up for pricing. Boxes of books to be sorted. Boxes to be cleaned. Boxes to be looked up and sorted. Piles and boxes.

Am I complaining? Somewhere in there is one.  Then I have to remind myself that this is a used bookstore and there are no rules. Have I also mentioned that I get claustrophobic? I’m sure I have. The worse place for cluttering is found in the front room when my desk is. Doesn’t affect anyone but me (and Hannah, of course). Unless you are a customer who wants to look at the piles around me. And that is okay to do.

You see, I always thought my used bookstore would be ‘dignified’. You know, wood shelves full of leather bounds. Dust free. Arranged alphabetically. Rare books under glass protected from dust and fingerprints.  Aged atlas hung on walls that aren’t covered in bookshelves. Various works of art around on the walls, tabletops. Vintage and fine antiques mixed. Brass. And a crystal chandelier. Always a crystal chandelier. Oriental rugs. Antique library tables stacked (not piled) with vintage and one-of-a kind finds.

And, this is silly but when I see my vision of this store I see myself as a man wearing a wool jacket with leather patched sleeves, corduroy pants. Of course a hand-knit vest under the jacket. Good sturdy leather tied shoes. And smoking a pipe filled with cherry tobacco. A pot of tea with all the fixings and biscuits always at my ready. Volvo parked outside.

Understand I am a woman. I don’t own a wool jacket. Anymore. Never with patched elbows. I’ve never smoked a pipe. Tea. Why brew it when I have the teahouse right nearby. The Volvo is outside in the parking lot. My outfit is based on my mood since there aren’t rules or standards to live up to. So there’s that. Still, that’s my vision, as strange as it is.

My store is what it is. I love it for what it has become. I’d like it more organized but when it’s just me in the store or Hannah at one time it is hard to maintain any type of standard. It is just what it is to the best of what we can do within the day. Fortunately I hear from customers that it is cozy. And organized. Huh. I’ll go with that. That makes me happy. But I would like to somehow hang a chandelier in here.

The bookstore itself was cozy but not crowded… And it was filled with that wonderful book smell that anyone who’s ever even been near a book will recognize. It’s more than the smell of paper; it’s the smell of the high seas and adventure and far off worlds. It’s the smell of a billion billion worlds, each a portal to somewhere new. – Shaun David Hutchinson, At the Edge of the Universe




etiquette of book selling or ‘what do I need to do to sell you my books?’

ocub_hallwayIn the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody’s best friend. _- Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind. (A great read!)

This is all my opinion.

I am a laid back owner. At least that’s how I view myself. This is ‘no rules’ store. No restrictions. No hold backs. Look in boxes on the floor. I’m okay to be interrupted. Ask whatever question you want. Climb over me to view the books I sell online. Etc., etc., etc. Except don’t go behind the curtain to the backroom. It may or may not be safe with piled boxes or even a path.  I’m in the business to sell used books and that’s pretty much all I care about. Books, reading. literature, publishing, and all that great stuff. And embroidery. Sure there’s more but I’m keeping it used books.

If you believe you have books to unload it would be a good idea to call ahead to make sure there is someone who will be able to assist you. In other words, here to negotiate with. I don’t always buy but generally will accept donations. Or offer store credit. I never do consignment. Never. It can become complicated and this is a used bookstore with no complications. No conflicts. No complications.

I make final decisions as to what is accepted and the price I offer because this is my store. I know. That reads very stern. Well, sometimes I allow the customer to dictate to me and frankly, that never goes well. For me. So I’m trying to ‘buck up’ and be more assertive. You see, when I first bought the store I was so thankful for anyone walking into the store. Potential regular customers. No. Most times when people brought in books to sell I realized they weren’t going to be regular customers. Potential customers. Maybe. Generally, I never saw them again. Not that I need to but I had hoped to. Still true today.

Books need to be clean. Seriously. I’ll offer more if they are clean. If I have to clean them I probably won’t buy them unless they are say, Hemingway first editions. I’ll even fight off spiders for them. Kidding. I do not like spiders. At all. No spiders in boxes! Check them first! Please.

I will go through the boxes or bags to determine which books I’ll accept.  Or as I like to say, will work in this store. In other words, will sell. Not all books are sellable. Or are right for this store. I have limited space and as you can tell if you’ve been in here recently we are maxed out. Hence the sales. And I’m feeling another one will be planned soon. If you’ve been in you know exactly.

The price I offer for books I’m buying might be considered low to some. The some who are looking to make a lot of money. I feel my used book prices are somewhat low. As low as I can make them. I do have an overhead I need to take care of – rent, utilities, and such. My competition is the internet. Not another used bookstore. Used bookstores complement one another. I have to determine how long the book will sit on the shelf, what price the book will sell in the store, condition and other factors.

So call ahead. Clean the books. I make final decisions. Never take the situation personal as I never do. And that’s it.

Please remember I do get claustrophobic. I work really hard to not get anxious about the boxes or piles of books surrounding me. I think I do rather well. Like for instance, I’m writing this blog rather than addressing all the recent arrivals into the store or that are still in the back of my truck that I know I have to content with. Just not now.

And all, thank you for your patronage. I really appreciate it. It is hard to have a retail business in this business climate but yet, it is so much fun. I love it. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

When you sell a man a book you don’t sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night – there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book. – Christopher Morley


50% OFF SALE! 9/10-9/29/2018

OCUB_ext1“You can’t put a price tag on love. But if you could, I’d wait for it to go on sale.”
― Jarod Kintz,  This Book is Not for Sale

Yep! All books are on sale. Half-off. 50%.

I follow the example of a fellow used bookstore owner, Ben, of The Country Bookshop in Plainfield, VT. Check his store out! He suggested years ago when I have a sale make it a good one. His sales are always 50% off. So not wanting to miss out on all the fun he has, OCUB sales are always 50% off.

ocub_entranceThis sale celebrates completing our move from Main Street to where we are now in the MarbleWorks. Can you believe it’s been seven years we’ve been in this amazing location?

The Half-off Books Sale will run Monday, Sept 10 through Saturday, Sept 29.

“…Wow, when you put it that way… sure, I think I’ll buy a copy just to try reading, why not?” Mandy replied with a smile.”― Rebecca McNutt, Shadowed Skies: The Third Smog City Novel

Hope to see you.



The Life of a Used Book Store Owner

“In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody’s best friend.” – Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind.


I went to a used book sale recently and overheard a comment about the behavior of used book dealers. I was the only “dealer” in the immediate area. The implied comment was maybe in humor. Maybe not. Maybe to send a message. Maybe not. I wasn’t sure. I let it pass but then maybe I didn’t. Obviously not if I feel the urge to address it and feel the need to set the record straight. Or at least to introduce myself and present myself as to how I feel I represent a dignified group of people. The type of people I associate myself with. And to also point out that some private citizens behave badly at used book sales. Worse than dealers. But then I generally find people are quite civilized at most of the used book sales I attend. Granted, I don’t attend many since I purchased the store. I have come to rely on book scouts to represent me and the store. And I know they are very polite. Even the one who is trained for outdoor living skills.

I get it. Used books can trigger a need of possession. The need can be overwhelming to some people. They will go to great measures to be the one to scout out the book, grab it, shield it so others will not discover they are now the owner of the book. You know. They are the type to keep window curtains closed to their library from prying eyes who also will want to possess their books. Yes, I do know people like that.

modern_libraryThat is not me. Far from it. I enjoy books. I take great satisfaction from books. I seek books out when I’m in the need of a good friend. Books offer comfort. Stability in a crazy world. A good cup of tea  or milky coffee, a comfy chair, an afghan for chilly nights or rocking on my front porch to catch a cool breeze. I’m not married to books. I don’t personally need to possess them. When I finish reading my books they come into the store to resell. I pass them along and get great satisfaction to see someone picking up a book I just finished. Don’t get me wrong. I do have a library at home. Of books I want to read.  See the difference?

And in case you are wondering, dear reader, yes. We are daily going through boxes of books and getting then on the shelves – or piled on the floor.  Inventory is coming in, it seems, daily. Trying to keep up.

“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books.” 

Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 


Half-off Book Sale is On!


“You can’t put a price tag on love. But if you could, I’d wait for it to go on sale.” -Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not for Sale.

Yep! The summer’s 50% off all books sale is here!

I’d type more but don’t want to over exert my arm from my recent minor surgery. And anyways, all you really want to read is that the sale is on, right?

Monday June 18 – Saturday June 30. Open Mon-Sat 10-5.

FOODAROO: Fourth Annual Festival will again be held in the MarbleWorks Sunday, June 24, 2018 from 4:00 to 8:00pm. Food trucks! Music! And more! OCUB will be open 2-5pm. Stop by.





Trying to Be a Better Otter


IMG_2576I can’t do much. I had minor surgery on my arm and I’ve been told I can’t lift anything over 5 lbs. Seriously? But, I own a used bookstore! I lift all day long. Ugh! So as I look around me all I see are piles of books: to be sorted. to be clean. to be shelved. I don’t work one-book-at-a-time. I work in piles. Armloads. I told my family I’d be good. Can’t even embroider. Truly a unhappy face.

Today and the rest of the week I’m going to do things I enjoy doing. Like grabbing fun  books I want to read. Like reading and listening to everything Fleetwood Mac. Listening to their early stuff with Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer and reading Mick Fleetwood’s “Play On: Now, Then & Fleetwood Mac: The Autobiography.” Then digging into “Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks”. A definite departure of what usually goes on in here. And eating fish & chips from Costello’s Market. Diet schmiet.

And if you are reading this you might want to mark your calendar for the upcoming 50% sale. June 18-30.

“You can’t put a price tag on love. But if you could, I’d wait for it to go on sale.” -Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not for Sale.



A Neglectful Otter

piles.jpgI know. I haven’t updated this website for a couple of months. Very bad. The good thing is I have been so busy working on inventory. We receive boxes just about daily and I try to go through them as they come in. SPS is my daily thing. Sorting the books, pricing and then shelving. Cleaning when needed. It’s just Hannah and I in the store and we  generally work alone so whoever is in has the responsibility of maintaining the inventory and shelving. I envy those stores who have assistants dedicated to shelving. On top of all that I currently have an overflowing box full of books needing protective covers. Always things to do.

Seriously working on turning this site into an online shop. I think I’m almost ready. It is not only a cost but time commitment. Entering books and keeping the inventory current.

Know the store is doing well. We are busy and all is great!

If you cannot read all your books…fondle them—peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them, at any rate, be your acquaintances. -Winston S. Churchill

Crossing the Mississippi – 2018!

mississippiOk, to be totally upfront, I really, really wanted to post about a situation that recently occurred in the store with a ruder than rude customer. But 2018 is a year of  being positive. At all costs. So instead, I am going to write about checking-off items on my personal bucket list that I’ve neglected for so long. So pooh! to that person and here’s to positive energy and being happy and joyful.

If “Been there, done that” isn’t your mantra, then make haste down your “bucket list. -Gina Greenlee, Postcards and Pearls: Life Lessons from Solo Moments in New York.

A vacation is external. A pilgrimage is internal. An adventure combines them. -Eddy L. Harris, Mississippi Solo: A River Quest.

One of my top items on my bucket list is crossing the mighty Mississippi. The further west I’ve been is Kentucky. I’m not a flyer. Put me behind a wheel and I’m fine. I’ve missed out on some adventures but… Seeing the Mississippi is important to me because of its history, its value to our country. Abe Lincoln to Sam Clemens. Ulysses S. Grant.  I want to visit the western Civil War sites as well as places Grant called home. Vicksburg won’t be included in this trip. That’s for another time.

Galena, IL is as far north for this trip. Walking over the Mississippi via the Chain of Rocks Bridge then driving over via the newer bridge. Tennessee offers up a scaled model of the Mississippi where you can walk the 1,000-mile alongside the actual river. I’m such a nerd.

I’ve been preparing. Collecting maps. Downloading maps and other literature. Sent for information. Making lists and taking suggestions. Starting to really focus in on what I want to see and learn. There is so much but if I stay focused it’ll all be fine. You see, there are so many museums, historic sites and used bookstores between here and there. I want to visit each and every place. Obviously I can’t. And yes, I have a folder titled, “Crossing the Mississippi”.

I have an awesome friend who’s assisting me in this venture. She’s my floor whisperer, provider of chocolate, confidant, bearer of bouquets when a person really needs flowers, and everything in between. I can’t wait to see what she finds and we start comparing sites, landmarks and such.

I’ll keep you all posted. But you’ll have to ask.  I’ll be heading out Saturday, March 17 and returning on the 31st. The store will be open but the hours will be different. Once the schedule is nailed down it’ll be posted. I hope everyone will be patient and understanding. Thank you in advance.

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.
-Augustine of Hipppo


February! It’s Here Again…

“Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?”
-William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

“February is pitiless, and it is boring. That parade of red numerals on its page adds up to zero: birthdays of politicians, a holiday reserved for rodents, what kind of celebrations are those? The only bubble in the flat champagne of February is Valentine’s Day. It was no accident that our ancestors pinned Valentine’s Day on February’s shirt: he or she lucky enough to have a lover in frigid, antsy February has cause for celebration, indeed.” -Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

One more….

“February – the month of love..?!!
No wonder the shortest one in the calendar.” -Dinesh Kumar Biran

See, I’m not the only one who hates February. Ok, maybe they don’t actually hate it but frankly, February stinks. Except for chocolate on Valentine’s Day, even if I have to buy it myself. For being a short month it still is a crappy one. I know, I write about my strong feelings for the Feb every year. This isn’t a new thing. It goes back many years to when I was a little girl. What is the purpose of February? Just a thorn in my side. One month before my birthday month so it was in my way.

The recent snow we’ve had is beautiful. Today’s temperature is hovering around 40. Good signs but not good enough for me. So, you know what that means? Yep!

I Hate February Sale! 

Monday, February 12 all books – ALL BOOKS – will be 50% off. Yes, all books. Every one. Every stinking book. 50% off. Yes, the one in your hand. Yes, your pile of books. Yes, even that one. And yes, that one. And that one. Every book. Every book in the store.

I take my cue from Ben from The Country Bookshop in Plainfield, VT. He’s one of my go-to guys when I have questions about book buying, book selling and everything bookstorish. When he has a sale it’s always 50%. His philosophy is that when you have a sale make it fun! Fun for your customers which will translate into fun for you the bookseller.  It’s fun to tell customers a sale is on and to see their reaction. And to bag their books and present it to them full of great savings. The purpose of a used bookstore is to sell used books, right? We want books out and read. It helps us turn the inventory around. It’s all good. You know, it has turned into so much fun because many regular customers know and expect it. A number of them have stopped in over the past number of weeks asking if I still hate February. Why wouldn’t I? Why would I like it? Yea….

So…all books. Yes, all books are on sale. February 12-February 28. Stop in and save me.

“In February, the overcast sky isn’t gloomy so much as neutral and vague. It’s a significant factor in the common experience of depression among the locals. The snow crunches under your boots and clings to your trousers, to the cuffs, and once you’re inside, the snow clings to you psyche, and eventually you have to go to the doctor. The past soaks into you in this weather because the present is missing almost entirely.”

– Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love

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