I visited a bookstore recently, while wandering the half-dead mall for twenty minutes waiting for a movie to start. It was the same location as a bookstore I had visited as a child and teenager some 10-15 years ago, but that bookstore had closed down, and a new one had since come to replace it. Apparently the interim owners didn’t even take down the shelves, because the shelves themselves were all in the exact same position as I remember, just the self-help books were in the old sci-fi/fantasy section I had always haunted, and sci-fi/fantasy was now closer to the middle rather than the back. I can’t even remember what books used to be in that section, which shows how much impression they left.
But the thing that really stood out to me wasn’t that the position of the shelves hadn’t changed. It was that the books hadn’t changed. Besides being on different shelves, it was basically the same selection as I remember, with an occasional smattering of “newer” titles that were all at least five years old. But mostly the Star Wars section was still stocked with Karen Traviss and Timothy Zahn and a few decrepit leftovers from the WEG roleplaying game, and the fantasy section still had a bunch of old books from the 60s-80s including – and bear in mind this is in a small town in hyper-conservative, “porn is a mental health crisis” Utah – several Gor books. The only thing that had changed is that now the Star Wars and Dragonlance books which had once had that new book stiffness and smell are now nearly as worn as the pastiches from 1978. Turns out once a book is one year old, it will – barring heavy use – remain in about the same condition for decades until it begins to fall apart completely. And also that this bookstore apparently deals exclusively in books from four or five years ago.
Maybe it’s specifically a used bookstore, and they just didn’t advertise that at all?