Spending Only $20 in Book Buyers (or Maybe a Little More)

I was supposed to spend only $20 in Book Buyers, a used bookstore on Castro, but I failed. I exceeded the limit and spent $23.68 (on Amazon I would have spent $29.82 — quality is different of course) on two books — “Let the Great World Spin” by Colum McCann and “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger — and a set of two Moleskine journals. Overall, I spent about one hour in the store looking for these things and deciding whether I should buy them.

Book Buyers is overwhelming, to say the least. It was like entering Netflix instant and realizing how many movies exist that I have never even heard of. From Castro, the store appeared small and unintimidating. Upon entering, however, I saw the shelves of books hidden by the store layout. Book Buyers carries a lot more products that can fit in the store. Beyond the entrance lie rows of books like science fiction, romance, politics and even movies and calendars.

While it is always great to go into the store with a clear idea of what you want to buy, it’s not a great idea to get too hung up on a certain book. I ended up buying books that I was satisfied with — and didn’t initially plan on buying — but I can only imagine how frustrating it would have been to search for a specific copy. You can, however, call ahead of time and ask the store’s employees if they carry a copy of book you want. (A few days after, I called to see whether they carried a certain author, and within a minute he gave me an answer.) Though I didn’t need to ask for their help, the employees seemed friendly and eager to answer any questions I had when I went to check out.

I spent a few minutes familiarizing myself with the shop. I navigated myself through the children’s section to the science fiction section. The amount of books available overwhelmed me (I avoided the comics and adventure sections), and ultimately I ended up in the popular fiction and non fiction sections.

In the popular fiction and non fiction sections, I saw books by Isabel Allende, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, all of which I want to read. In that section, I found the book “Let the Great World Spin.” Normally, I don’t like buying books that I have never heard of, but judging by the cover — something I do often — I had a good feeling about it. So far, the book has been satisfying.

On my Amazon cart, I had kept “The Catcher in the Rye.” Even though I already read the novel in English last year, I loved the it so much that I wanted to own a copy to lend to my cousins or sister when they were being too hypocritical (everyone should have one, by the way). Additionally, it was in the “Banned Book” section in honor of Banned Book week, a week where bookstores and libraries encourage people to read books that have been banned, so I felt pretty rebellious buying a copy.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a rational explanation for why I bought Moleskine journals — it’s mostly because I wanted to feel smart. Pablo Picasso, Thomas Jefferson, and other successful individuals have been inspired as they wrote in their Moleskine journals, so likewise, I also hope that something revolutionary will come to me as I scribble my thoughts down. The reason I did buy the journals at Book Buyers as opposed to anywhere else is that they’re cheaper there — one can only imagine what rights an office supply company has when Picasso has used its products. Though Book Buyers doesn’t carry many colors or styles of Moleskine Journals, it’s one of the only products that are brand new.
Book Buyers surprised me for two reasons. Primarily, I thought it wouldn’t be that expensive because they are used (the books, movies and calendars, however, are cheaper than those atBarnes and Noble or Amazon). But the prices weren’t cheap enough for me to feel enough freedom to buy whatever I wanted. Also, now that I know that they carry a comprehensive selection of books and potential gifts, everytime I’m in downtown Mountain View, I feel compelled to take a look.