|This isn't McKay's. I forgot to take a photo|
while I was there.
As an author, I have mixed feelings about used bookstores. I know when I buy a book there, the author is not getting any royalties. On the other hand, I view it kind of like a library—it’s an opportunity to discover new authors whose work I wouldn’t otherwise have tried.
I used to buy more books from local bookstores. But as our budget got tighter and books became much more expensive, I became more and more selective. For a while, I bought remaindered books and found books that way. But more often than not, the remaindered books were blockbuster authors or authors the bookstore hoped would be blockbuster authors and the books didn’t quite sell.
Then when we moved to Tennessee, I found an amazing used bookstore, McKays. It’s a two story warehouse of books—a real honest-to-goodness treasure trove. And I found the “bargain section,” a spot where they place novels that aren’t selling fast enough. This is where the real gems are. The books are usually under a dollar and are a mixed bag of everything from spy/legal/mystery/thrillers (which I like to read on the treadmill) to literary novels. Lots of literary novels. And I’ve discovered new authors. I won’t spend $25 on a book whose author I don’t know and love. But I’ll risk a dollar. For 25 cents, I’ll buy a book I think I probably won’t like but want to read for purposes of learning more about writing—and sometimes I fall in love.
The other day, I found a book by Geraldine Brooks. I read her novel People of the Book a couple of months ago and fell in love. If Year of Wonder is just as good, then I’ll buy her new book when it comes out. I’ll get her novel March (a retelling of Little Women), even though I’m not fond of Louisa May Alcott. Brook’s writing in POB was that good.
In a sense, used bookstores were the forerunner of Amazon’s Kindle Bargain Books. They’re an opportunity for a writer to share his/her vision and catch a new follower.