Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dawn of the Book Scanners

This past weekend, was a big weekend for me. 4 different libraries near me all had their annual book sale. I loaded up big time. At least at one of them. Last year, I loaded up at none of them. The difference being, this year, the biggest of the sales, banned Electronic Scanners.

It vastly improved the selection of books, and also improved the overall atmosphere of the sale. Over the last few years, these sales, along with Goodwill stores have become demon haunted wastelands thanks to the efforts of some of these " Resellers ". They show up, riffle through all the books as fast as they can. Scan all the bar-codes, using a PDA and cartridge, loaded with software that checks Amazon for sales chart status and approximate value.

On the one hand, this is a good thing. Instead of the book languishing at a goodwill for a few weeks before being sent off to be pulped.. it gets bought and put online and some one who wants it can buy it. It's also fueling an ultra cheap after market for college text books. At least some of the time.. some of the resellers simply list them for at or slightly below cover price. A second hand college text, bought 2.00$ at goodwill.. can net them a 50-60$ profit. On that note, they are buying a Donated book for a very small amount of money and then reselling it for many times what they paid for it. That's not the worst aspect of them though. Their attitude is.

Of the ones I've had the misfortune to run across, they tend to be rude, they elbow you out of their way. Treating other shoppers, as if they are literally taking food out of their mouths. I've seen them go through other shoppers carts if they think no one is looking. At a Library book sale last year, I even saw one of them going through the 'Hold' boxes you get up at the front of the room under the check out tables. Until the library people made them leave, he was taking books that other people had already picked out and put aside to continue shopping. They denude goodwill stores so badly sometimes that its not even worth going to them anymore to look for books. I've read of people having confrontations with the. Its a related concept to that scourge used to plague the toy world. The Scalper. They engineered scarcity, but didn't take advantage of a charity.

I know there is nothing legally wrong with what these guys are doing, it's almost always men, but I can't be alone in feeling that perhaps its unethical?

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