The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Charging for Yearbook Inquiries

Like many bookdealers I always pick up vintage yearbooks when I find them. These are generally good (if slow-selling) stock since the books were done in small print runs and there's rarely more than one or two copies listed online for any given volume. Also they're frequently purchased as gifts and people need them in a hurry (and don't blink at gift-level price).

Lately though I've been getting queries where it's clear I'm just being used as a genealogical researcher and the questioner has no intention of purchasing the yearbook. Questions on most books--even if they don't lead to a sale--are generally helpful because they reveal selling points on a title that you didn't notice and give you information to add to the description. With yearbooks though the information is generally only useful to the one person asking it, and answering the question can actually decrease the saleability or allow them to purchase the book elsewhere (perhaps from a less helpful seller).

Anyway the fifth or sixth time I had to haul an eighty-pound bin out of storage to check if someone's great Auntie was in chess club only for a "Thanks for your help!" was a bridge too far. So after much deliberation I've decided to start charging for yearbook queries and scan requests.

The charge would be $10 for an inquiry $20 for a scan, and would count towards the purchase price of the book (or perhaps any book in stock).

I don't like doing this but it will hopefully cut out all but the serious/motivated inquiries and make my unsold yearbook stock into a small income generator.

What do other booksellers think? Love to hear your thoughts.


jgodsey said...

back i the day i'd have said that's abhorent. but the culture has bred a class of 'customer' who think nothing of abusing the bookseller.

i say buy it or don't baby.

Kelly said...

I'm a librarian, so that's the kind of work we do for no charge, but we've got nothing to lose. I think that's a fair fee for your service since you're in the book business.