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Category: scanner people

Apologies to the Book Scanners

Hiya bookies. Yesterday morning we were having an epic garage sale when I came into the garage and found a lady using a scanner on the walls of books. I told her those were not allowed and she acted like I had slapped her. She then left.

Lessons here are myriad. Scanners have always offended me, I have always considered them a shortcut to avoid learning the bookcraft, and in many respects they are just that. They allow anybody to become a ‘bookseller’, not only diluting the inventory pool with lots and lots of badly described books, but those bad descriptions lead to poor buyer experiences that whittle away at the overall pool of customers willing to buy books on the internet. The Scanner People are marketers, not booksellers, and they are the bane of those who are booksellers. Obviously, this lady did not know enough about her craft to peruse my books without her scanner, and that is on her. She needs to learn her craft without any tools or crutches first, so that the tools do not become crutches.

But I have also condemned the tool itself, the scanner, which makes about as much sense as condemning a hammer for being a hammer and not a torque wrench. A tool is designed for a specific purpose, if you misuse the tool that’s your fault, not the tool’s.

So, now I have apologized to the scanners, let me also apologize to the Scanner People. See, while they muddy the waters of bookselling, I have to admire their spirit of entrepreneurship. A lady standing my garage at 9 am on a Saturday morning has just the drive and determination to be a successful team member in the new business. I don’t want to partner with just anybody, I want people who want to be a success and are willing to work their butts off to get there. Not all Scanner People will be like that, of course, but some will, and to date I have condescendingly written them off as being somehow beneath my notice.

No more. The new business has refreshed memories of when I was that new guy with a new business and lots to learn, how much fun that was, and how much hard work, and I’m ready to do it again. Anybody interested?

Scanner People pods?

Morning bookies. Why does hot coffee taste so good on a blazing hot day when you’re sitting in the A/C watching the grass turn brown? After all, you’re only a power outage away from shriveling up yourself.

In thinking about my recent screed about the scanner people, it did occur to me just how useful such a tool could be for someone who actually knows their business already. Like me. It could help cut down on all of those tempting books I buy that look so wonderful, but are selling for less than a dollar on the net. You know the ones, where the first 50 entries for sale all say something like, “May or may not have tool marks. May or may not be ex-library. May or may not have food stains. Good condition, mint, acceptable, a great copy, might be falling apart.” These are canned descriptions that scanner people and mega-listers put on every single book in their inventory, because they can’t be bothered to inspect them. The computer prices them, then their software monitors the internet, and if another copy comes available cheaper their machines automatically undercut the new price. But, since the new guy probably has the same software, they respond by cutting their price and so on, until the bottom has been reached and there is a glut of crappy copies all cluttering up the website so that the better copies are all on page 2 of the search results, all sold by a bunch of people who could just as easily be selling tires or Hummel figurines.

Some business, huh?

But with a scanner, maybe I could avoid buying those books in the first place. I could use the scanner to avoid the scanner people. I like that concept, using their own technology against them. So we’ll see, I might think about that one, and if I do get one I’ll let you know. But I recognize that it could also be dangerous, a slippery slope into bookseller hell.

The ride of the scanner people

Hiya bookies! Summer might not be here yet, but summer is here, if you know what I mean. It’s hot outside! Ain’t it grand?

Several months ago I bought a collection consisting of at least 3,000 books, at a guess. So, naturally, I woke up this morning and decided that what I needed was…more books! So I went to an estate sale, got there about 45 minutes early and was surprised to be 2nd in line. They advertised 1,000’s of books, which in reality was more like 300 or so, but I doubted the whole 1,000’s thing anyway. While in line I chatted with a new bookseller I had never met before, a nice guy who had already met some of the other sellers. The time passed fairly quickly, although by opening time of 9 am it was getting really hot out there.

So, anyway, as we’re all mulling about looking at books, I realized the new guy was one of the Scanner People. Regular readers know how I feel about them; I don’t get it. Why sell books, if you aren’t going to bother learning about them? Why not sell some other widget, if all you’re going to do is let a bar-code scanner tell you which books are worth money and which ones aren’t? Heck, if a book doesn’t have a bar-code, you’re clueless, and most books don’t have bar-codes. Like I said, I don’t get it.

I bought a box of books at that first sale and went to a second, although I debated this because I was getting hungry. But I had seen some Nazi memorabilia in the photos advertising the second sale, and some books, and I figured that a guy who collected Nazi stuff was into WW2 books, so I went. As it turns out, the guy didn’t collect the Nazi stuff, he took it off the battlefield when he was in Europe with the 84th Infantry Division. And, just as I had suspected, he had some great books. I bought two boxes full, with some stuff genuinely rare, and other stuff signed by some cool people. When I post them you’ll see some neat new stuff in my history categories.

And not one of them had a bar-code. I’ve often used the example of the scanner person who scanned a copy of Cold Mountain and walked on, since the book went through about a million printings and there are thousands of them out them you can pick up for nothing. Why bother looking at it? Except, I did. And it was a rare first edition. Pristine, in fact, unread. And signed. I let it go for $100, which is cheap. But, as my website says, that’s what I do. And the scanner person? He didn’t have a clue what he missed. Just as he would have walked right by all of those great books at the second sale today.

What a shame.

For him, not for me. For my part, I hope he keeps using his scanner and never learns a damned thing about books. He was a nice guy and he probably makes good money doing it his way. More power to him.

I guess.

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