Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Local, independent used bookstores are better than Amazon!

You may have heard of the ruckus that erupted around Amazon this weekend when a glitch caused the site to make many books on gay, lesbian, and sexuality themes largely unavailable for search by its customers. This was apparently a mistake on the site's part and not an outright act of attempted concealment -- but I am here to tell you, gentle readers, that such a mistake would never happen here! For one thing, we have an entire section on Sex/Gender/Sexuality that is just as available to the public as the rest of our books; indeed, you may recall that -- just two months ago -- I wrote a blog post that included "Kama Sutra Marketing Through the Ages". More to the point: if we make an inventory-tracking mistake around the store, then we lose just one book, not entire categorizations. We're better than Amazon. Convinced yet?

No? Well, these Affordable and Interesting items demonstrate another reason we're better than Amazon:



A lovely antique fairy-tale book, illustrated by Frank Adams, was recently badly damaged -- it lost many pages and the binding came apart. We could have simply thrown it out, but instead we elected to save as many pages as we could and then sell them each for $3.00. Amazon would never show such tender loving care. As you can see from the above, the pictures are lovely, bright and sickeningly cute: ideal for people who ... enjoy cute things! There must be people like that out there.

This week's Favorite is another excellent example of our betterness.

Here's the thing about bookstores that you could never, ever find on Amazon: random chance and serendipity. Personally, I love knowing that I could come upon an 1899 book called Fables in Slang at any time. It's not that I wouldn't live a happy life without it, but I just think my life is better now that I've read "The Fable of the Visitor Who Got A Lot for Three Dollars", the main character of which is referred to as the Learned Phrenologist. (Did you know that there are still phrenologists out there? Learn all about the history of phrenology at this very pro-phrenology page: click here!)

Check out how the 1899 slang book characterizes phrenology:

The Learned Phrenologist sat in his Office surrounded by his Whiskers.

Now and then he put a Forefinger to his Brow and glanced at the Mirror to make sure that he still resembled William Cullen Bryant.

Near him, on a Table, was a Pallid Head made of Plaster-of-Paris and stickily ornamented with small Labels. On the wall was a Chart showing that the Orangoutang does not have Daniel Webster's facial angle.

"Is the Graft played out?" asked the Learned Phrenologist, as he waited. "Is Science up against it or What?"

I love this book. $30.00, and you get tons of Fables in the above style. Did I mention that all of them are illustrated?


People who buy all their books on Amazon don't come across slangy 1899 fable books with awesome illustrations of stern phrenologists. Nuff said.

Or wait, not quite enough said. I still need to cover this Collector's Item!

Not only is this pamphlet unavailable at Amazon, but when I tried to search for it, I was confronted by a horrible banner of grinning and cavorting Disney characters. We will never assault you with obscenely vivid moving advertisements, gentle readers -- that's a promise that makes O'Gara and Wilson much classier than Amazon. But to return to my point: this incredible item -- all the way from 1922 -- is too rare to be found on Amazon. I assert that the cover alone makes it worth the $40.00 we are charging, but the pamphlet's historical perspective is icing on the cake.

The moral of the story, gentle readers, is that we are better than Amazon. Love us!

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