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BBC News: The booming trade in second-hand books

As 2018 came to an end, the BBC featured a rising trend in collecting antiquarian material and how the internet has changed the trade. "The rise of online has helped revive the second-hand book market, but what impact has it had on traditional, second-hand book shops?"
Published on 07 Jan. 2019
BBC News Article December 2018

When a box of old books arrives at Oxfam's Witney bookshop in Oxfordshire, it's a bit like opening a treasure chest.

Manager Sally Lee and her team pile up the bulk of them to go straight on the shelves: the Jilly Coopers, the Lee Childs and the John Le Carrés. Some, the ones that have been dropped in the bath or scribbled in, will have to be sent for recycling. 

...

But what about the traditional, second-hand book shops? Aren't they undermined by the online trade?

Mr Davies says not. "Those shops are also serving a global community of book lovers now," he says.

He argues the online trade actually helps second-hand shops. "When they close their doors they're still selling. At the weekend if they're closed, we're promoting books on their behalf, and on Monday hopefully they've got some orders to process."

Pom Harrington, who runs an antiquarian bookshop in London, agrees. He's noticing a growing market in Hong Kong for European first editions of Karl Marx's works that in pre-internet days just wouldn't have found him.

And he says online has had an "immense" impact on the used-book sector, by putting information about the value of unusual books at everyone's fingertips, helping those less in the know make the most of valuable finds.

 

To read the full article, please go to the BBC website here. 

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