How to shop in used-book stores: 14 tips from a bibliophile

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Say or nod hello to the manager or clerk on duty. If asked whether you need any help, the time-honored response is “I’m just browsing,” unless, of course, you really would like some guidance. After a few visits to a store, you might exchange names with the people you deal with there. As at bars and restaurants, becoming a regular tends to elicit a warm reception and extra attention. For instance, if you cheerily ask “Anything new?” in a D.C.-area shop, Dylan, Lance, Eli, Zachary, Julia, Susan, Dave, Allan, Chuck, Joey, Hi Lee, Tom, Hélene, Debbie, Patrick, Lauren, Nathan, Victoria, Camille or Aaron might reply, “We just purchased the library of [insert one — a Famous Professor, Georgetown Socialite or Science Fiction Fan]. Want to take a look?” Sometimes you might be permitted into the backroom or sorting area. As the material there may be “raw stock,” you can sometimes negotiate a quick-sale price for a wanted title.

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