The combination of fourteen different dealers with fourteen different ideas of how a co-op should function makes for some interesting meetings and discussions. It works thusly; every book is coded and priced by each bookseller. One might find six copies of a book in six different booths at six different prices, or only one book in the entire place dealing with some weird, eclectic subject. Most dealers have a specialty that they feature and then carry other genres as well. For instance, we have one fellow who only has military books. One dealer loves antiquarian and “seldom found” books. One dealer carries an incredible selection of graphic novels, comic books, and related art books. Another dealer only carries unique or scarce LP records and CDS. My category specialties are Remarkable Women in History, Metaphysical (or I call them Woo Woo) books, Western Americana and Native American books, but I also have lots of others. There is one communal display case and one glass case downstairs in the main room with lots of shelves where dealers rotate their displays monthly. There are also several spinner racks and a table in front where special books are offered on rotation.
There is a rare book room downstairs, a recent innovation, and another in the hall upstairs in back of my booth. These areas hold cabinets with the crème de la crème securely locked up. The general overall stock is of a mid- to low- price range with lots of great sales going on in different booths. It is kind of a pain to keep track of who has what sale at any particular moment, but we work it out. Collectors often come in looking for something special and if one of us doesn’t have it, someone else probably does. One never knows what one might find if one looks hard enough. Name a category; there is probably at least one book to fill it!
Many people bring in books to sell. Whichever dealers are on the desk on any given day, have first choice of books that come in the door. There are usually at least one or two dealers beside the ones on duty who catch up any stray books that the first dealers turn down.
Maybe the big benefit to the co-op system is that we don’t have the expense of hiring help because we take turns working, two at a time, in the store. There is no money going out the door for benefits and wages. Each dealer works a required number of hours a month computed on how much space that particular dealer has, and rents are also calculated on occupied space. Booths are all different sizes and if one dealer wants more than one booth, then he or she will pay the rent on that additional space. Who gets what newly opened space is determined by who is next on the list. If a booth is empty, it is not so good, as the rest of the dealers have to split the rent on that space to pay the landlord until the space is filled, but that doesn’t happen too often.