Used Bookstores Come Back – But Did They Ever Really Leave?

The Washington Post published an article in December on used bookstores and their “comeback”. While it is a little DC centric, there were a few interesting points that are worth highlighting. The first is that a lot of independent bookstores that mostly sell new books are also selling used books these days – something that isn’t possible with e-only publishing. The second is that many places lost their new bookstores – either independent or chain – during the recession and so the only bookstores left were used bookstores. While DC has several independent bookstores, both new and used, the city proper saw the closing of the last large chain bookstore at the end of 2015 so the city that supposedly buys more books per capita than any other will be relying all the more on used bookstores.

Which leads to the questions that I thought almost the entire time I was reading the article – Used bookstores were never gone so is this really a comeback? Is this increase in business at used bookstores just another part of the increase in shopping at independent bookstores overall? My suspicion is that there are a number of reasons used bookstores are so popular and that the independent bookstore resurgence for both new and old is part of the “buy local” movement that is increasingly popular with customers.

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