Wormwoodiana has a fine article on charity shops today, and specifically on “Why the net is not a good guide to book prices” for such shops…
Readers who spend any time in charity bookshops will quite often hear the manager or volunteers explain, when a customer queries a price, that they “value” their collectible books “using the Internet.
Wormwoodiana posits one plausible possibility for the ludicrously high prices often seen online. Money laundering…
A book is listed at a ludicrous price: a buyer pays it; shady money is transferred in a seemingly innocuous transaction. Who could possibly suspect second-hand bookselling of involvement with dark money?
Small sub-$150 payments, unlikely to draw notice, and with the excuse that “the robot did it” if the police start sniffing around. Seems plausible to me.
In the U.S. such physical shops are called ‘thrift stores’, or they were the last I heard. Possibly there’s now some trendy new hipster-ised name for them.
In my neck of the woods there are plenty of such charity shops and even a couple of second-hand bookshops (‘used bookstores’) left. But the days of bargains are long gone in either type of shop, as the proprietors think they know the value of everything, and add £3/$5 on top.
The other problem with charity shops is that they are so relentlessly professionalised and commercialised. Big charities now have a small army of professionalised retail managers and regional managers. Pop in to hand over your bag of donated books, and you will be immediately slammed with a robo-request from the poor volunteer staff member to “sign up to a direct debit” etc. They have to ask that of every customer, but it just means that, next time I have a bag of books to donate I’ll be stepping into another charity shop.
The exceptions to rampant commercialisation are the ‘out of town-centre’ shops, often run by a delightfully haphazard cat-lady hoard-minder for a local independent cat-rescue charity. Still the best kind of old-school charity shop. Still the best kind of charity too. If Lovecraft had made his fortune, I suspect he’s have left it all to the local cat charity.