In Print One Year, Then Out?

Susan Ramsey, of the Athena Book Shop in Kalamazoo, MI, writes:

Out of Print, c’est moi. My official job at the Athena Book Shop is Out of Print searches, something the internet has made so much easier that any minute now people are going to figure out they don’t need me. What isn’t generally known is that Toro is responsible for the
current situation, in which milk has a longer shelf like than most books. A Supreme Court Decision (1981? 1984?) ruled that warehouse stock is taxable, no exceptions for books.

So every year, the little accountants who don’t give a rip about literature but sure would like to keep the boss in business tally it up and say “Hey, why are we keeping these titles? Why don’t we sell them to the remainder houses and maybe our next title will be Bridges of Madison County or The Secret Life of Bees?” And, God help us, sometimes it is.

So a book doesn’t have to be a classic from the 30s to be out of print — if it’s been around longer than a year, it may well be. Three years and it’s a near certainty. (Another bitter truth of bookselling, by the way, for people who get worked up about first editions, is that a first edition of most books is not nearly as rare as a second edition.)

All that said, I’d love to know why the last time I checked, everything by Rumer Godden was in print except In This House of Brede, which has been OP for years.


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