Rare Book Monthly
"It grew willy nilly for the next five to ten years," said Jerry, "but with this last generation the book business in Albuquerque has blossomed and now there are a half dozen reasonably big, well organized stores and people are getting used to us. Now, all of us are going through this next change, whatever it is." I asked him if he meant the Internet. "The Internet and increasing rents in urban areas," he said. "We are generally immune to the Barnes and Noble thing. A really good book to us is one that continues to sell year after year as opposed to selling 50 copies in a month."
Jerry noted that "The beauty of the book business is that there is no one right way to do it. If you find sought after books for your regular customers they will keep coming back. This is a fairly large area, about 500,000 people here, but about 200-300 people pay all of our bills every month. They use places like this for recreation regardless of what sells on the Internet. They enjoy the dust and the mold and the banter, and in that way I think there will always be stores like ours. The Internet has stolen those people from us that used to come to us by default because they didn't have anywhere else to turn for a used book, now they just ask their secretaries to get on Amazon and they get their book in two days. And that's all right. The flip side of that is access to customers for specialized books. It used to be that if we got a really scarce book like a $200 book on Stage Designs of the 19th Century we had to spend a fair amount of time to figure out what it was worth unless you spent the $2000 a year on an ABA dealer catalog. Now all that reference material is there on the Net. The market is there, it doesn't matter what happened last year.
"The market is there online every day for an amazing amount of stuff. In a way, there is a real irony to it. In the old days, the real cavaliers of the business were the specialists. They could come in and shop a store like mine, buy really weird books, take them home, and put them in a catalog, use a specialized mailing list and make a good living at it. But now, the entry level to the trade is so minimal and reference is so accessible that people who specialize are getting squeezed out. If we get a $200 book on stage design, we put it online and the next day the three people in North America who care about it see it there and buy it."