Tag: Abebooks

11th October 2008 / / Books
Costly pile

As an avid reader, it often occurs to me just how second-hand book retailers manage to turn a profit. Even assuming the raw stock can be acquired at very little cost, the vast majority of books can go unsold almost indefinitely, all the while occupying shelf or storage space that costs money to maintain. I read somewhere that on average a second-hand bookseller can expect a third of his stock to be sold within six months, another third to be sold on an indefinite timescale, and the final third to simply go unsold. Obviously this has a knockon effect where turnover is slow. On a recent trip to Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town, I came across plenty of bookstores that clearly have to elevate prices to remain profitable. No doubt in their case, the annual book festival and holiday season are a major source of revenue that would otherwise cause most to close their doors in an otherwise small and overcrowded market ecosystem.