Monday, November 06, 2006

Jim Benton, Haunter of the $.99 Shelf

Jim has a plan for all those cheap paperbacks...

Because I am cheap, broke, and have a high reading speed -- and all three have been true most of my life -- I very rarely buy new books. I much prefer building my library, particularly the fiction part of it, by frequenting thrift stores, second-hand book stores (or used book tables at general book stores) and, since I've been living in Brooklyn, taking advantage of a public library that has permanent book sales in every one of its 40+ branches.

Yes, I lose the chance to walk into a bookstore with a particular book in mind, finding it, and buying it -- provided it is both in print and in stock. But there are a number of compensations.

I like the "grab bag" situation, the never knowing what you will find when you check a particular place. I can check a particular spot four times running and walk out empty-handed, and the next time I may find so many books that I can't carry them all, or afford them even at those prices.

I like the opportunity to take a gamble on an unknown author or book, much easier when what you are risking is $.25-$1.00 rather than $5-$25.

I like the fact that if I have, say, $7.00 to spend, rather than getting just one paperback, I can come home with anywhere from 7 to 70 pbs or hardcovers -- yes, there are places to get books for as little as $.10 for paperbacks and $.25 for hardcovers.

Since I've been doing a fair share of book buying recently, I thought it might be fun to start reviewing the books as I read them. You won't find the latest bestsellers here, but you might find the occasional book or author to look for -- or to avoid. (I'll be doing them as I read them, except that sometimes a book will send me onto my shelves for others by the same author.)

I'll try to check availability for each of them, at least through Amazon and Alibris. So here goes...

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