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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