Oct 09 2008

New York Used Bookstores Suck

Published by at 17:03 under Books,New York

One of the neatest things about living in New York is that I get to use my commute time to read. Rather than sit behind the wheel and listen to music or the radio, I get to actually stand in a crowded, sometimes air conditioned car next to complete strangers and work on my reading stack. It’s worked so well, in fact, that I’ve had to go out any actually buy books to read to keep myself busy.

In Texas we have Half-Price Books – a place with many locations where you can buy anything recorded on paper or media. The stores are generally large – with very large inventories. My kids and I used to go most every weekend. You could find most anything there. All at half price. So, coming to New York City, with about twice the population of Houston I had high expectations. Certainly in a place like this, the sheer volume of used media should flow like the Nile in the rainy season. But, alas, I’m sorry to report that New York City used bookstores suck.

They’re small. They’re old. They have very, very, few books. They don’t sell used media such as software. Some do sell CD’s but are more interested in selling vinyl records. This is in direct contrast to the commercial bookstores which are huge operations – usually four floors of books with an integrated cafe and a public meeting area for “events” usually involving an author discussing their latest book (on sale!) The used book trade appears to be geared more toward the rare and collectible sector, so mainstream books are just not available. Forget about finding a used DVD.

I have traveled from Soho to Harlem looking at bookstores and they’re all the same. The only place that comes close to a Half-Price Books is The Strand Bookstore in Union Square (4/5/6/L to Union Square, S on Broadway 2 streets). It’s pretty big and they have quite a number of books (they brag 18 miles of books, so there must be more than one location or that includes what’s in the warehouse.) It also has the geographic advantage of being on my way home (as I change trains at Union Square, I often just go to the surface for a little bit.) There’s a Quizno’s across the street, and it’s down the street from a pretty good cinema. That’s as close as I’m going to get – but they don’t sell paperbacks. Go figure.

Sometimes, I just miss Texas. And having space. And quiet. Quiet’s good.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “New York Used Bookstores Suck”

  1. Brianon 10 Oct 2008 at 21:59

    Come join us in the country side…..still no bookstores, but all the quiet you can handle 🙂

  2. Duke’s Ain’t It | codefoolon 12 Oct 2008 at 16:03

    […] baby gift for a recent birth at the office – a little girl – and buy some books for subway reading. As I’ve noted before I’m burning through books on the subway as I’m able to get through 20 or more pages […]

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