Monday, July 16, 2007

The Dead Guy Buy

Thanks to my pops over at Earthlight Books for pointing this one out. Great piece!

by Jaime Frontero
#98, 2 July 2007

A Personal Essay

After 40-some years of doing this book stuff, I've come to understand certain immutable laws and progressions in the trade. There are many that are easily categorized, some that are more difficult, and a few that I still haven't quite put together - although I'm working on it.

One of the simplest to understand and recognize is the Dead Guy Buy. Whether you get your large book purchases from people bringing books into your store or get them by seeking out people with large caches to sell, the Dead Guy Buy is instantly recognizable and of only two major varieties.

By far the most common DGB - probably in the neighborhood of 90% of them - is the book accumulation put together by someone who had a normal, reasonably long life; and died from a well-known, hard-fought, and expected cause - cancer, for example. Typically, these buys are offered in dusty (and frequently basement-dampened) cardboard boxes, packed carefully and lovingly with crumpled newspapers dated from two to ten years before you see them. It's hard for the relatives who offer these books for sale to do so, and they almost always keep the books for several years. Books are such personal things that letting go of them is perceived as tantamount to letting go of the decedent. As you go through the boxes, you go through a life ...

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