“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.” --Neil Gaiman, American Gods
We all know that independent bookstores are important. Each one helps people explore their curiosity in a unique way, but used bookstores are particularly special.
Used bookstores can have a wider variety of books than new-only bookstores because they aren't stuck with what publishers are releasing right now. It's why we at Moe's can stock out-of-print books, rare books, and cult classics. It's why no two used bookstores will have the same selection. Also, used books are less expensive, making it easier for more people to afford to own books.
And here's the thing that really makes used bookstores special: the way they interact with their communities. A used bookstore is only as good as the books that are offered to us by all of you. If people in our community keep reading, and keep selling and donating and trading books to us once they have outlived their usefulness to them, then the cycle of knowledge continues and the whole community keeps learning.
That said, it does sometimes seem like independent used bookstores are becoming less and less common every year. Our block of Telegraph Avenue has, in just the past few years, lost two fixtures of the neighborhood. Cody's Books and Shakespeare & Co. had both been around for decades prior to closing, and the street feels emptier for it.
It's crucial that we protect our used bookstores, because while it may seem that independent bookstores are all the same, used bookstores are places that offer things that new-only bookstores can't.