[Flag] Issue 2: August 1999
Rising Sun
"For the next Age of Magnamund..."

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Collecting on a Shoestring II
Methods to the Madness
by Andrew G. Black.
edited by Lawrence Ritchie.
Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved.

As I said in the last issue of Rising Sun, I've got an obsession with finding rare Joe Dever books at used book stores. My reasons are many, from providing the Lone Wolf community with inexpensive copies of desirable books, to upgrading the quality of my collection.

In this article, I discuss methods for effectively visiting many book stores in a short time period, and talk briefly about independent and chain used book stores. This article may not be for everyone, but it can apply to anyone in the world who wants to find desirable Joe Dever books at used stores. You can't realistically find a Magnamund Companion or first edition copies of Lone Wolf (with a color map) at a retail sellers nowadays. To get these and other treasures, you have to hit the backdoor.

Going to used book stores can be a time consuming process because travel is involved. Generally, the more second-hand shops that are visited, the greater are the odds of finding a treasure, so volume can generally correlate to quantity and quality of desirable books. To hit as many stores as possible in a limited time frame requires efficiency.

I use a three step process and several tools to efficiently hit as many used book stores as possible. The first step involves defining an area of focus, the second is determining a travel route in the area of focus, and the third is what book stores are actually visited. Notice that there are two planning steps to one action step. This helps ensure maximum efficiency.

Define an Area of Focus

More than likely, it isn't possible to visit every bookstore in your area, at least not all at once. Boundaries need to be set, and specific plans made within those boundaries. For example, on occasion I visit the city of Minneapolis for business trips. I want to hit as many used book stores as I can during my business trip, and still have time to go sightseeing. It is unrealistic for me to try to go to St. Cloud which lies many miles away from Minneapolis just to visit one or two stores. I want to go where the highest density of book stores are relative my location or travel route. Giving a quick glance through the phone book, I find a high density of second hand book stores in Minneapolis and St. Paul, which are all very close. So, my area of focus is the Minnesota/St. Paul area.


With that determination made, I need to make more decisions. As it turns out, there are so many stores in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area that I can't possibly visit them all, even on my five day business trip. I need to be more selective with what stores I choose to visit. Looking closely at the phone book, I cross out stores that specialize in any field that doesn't relate to General Used Stock, Science-Fiction/Fantasy, or Children's books. By doing this, there is the chance of missing some good books, but it is a necessary sacrifice.

After doing that, I often find that there are still too many book stores to choose from. What am I to do?

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