I am a freelance author, writer, critic, artist, and entrepreneur living in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.
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How does CommuniTea Books price our books?
The vast majority of inventory at CommuniTea Books are used and remainder books. It might help, first, to establish what used and remainder books are. Used books, well, yes, they are exactly what you might expect them to be, used books are preowned books that we have acquired either through our community as trades or direct sales, off premises at estate sales, or inventory purchased at other used bookstores. Remainder books are new books printed in excess by publishers, and are being liquidated at vastly reduced prices, and resulting we are able to offer fantastic prices for.
We price our used books, generally, at 60% the list price. We do this, in part, because we are independently owned, and are in business to support ourselves, and our employees. Also we only accept used books that are in pristine condition, in most cases it would be very difficult to recognize the difference between one of our used books, and a new paperback. We will, on occasion, accept books that are below our typical standards of quality, and we might do this if the book is rare, or collectible, or under stocked in our store, in such cases we price accordingly; if the book is not rare or collectible, and is beneath our general standards of condition/quality, the price will reflect that. It might be important to note that our pricing standards are based on the example of a high quality trade paperback book. All used mass-market books in CommuniTea Books are priced well below 60% list price. Inasmuch our rare or collectible paperback books will be priced according to the market value of that particular rare or collectible book.
Half Price Books, which is located throughout 16 of 50 of the United States, the company started in Texas, and as advertised they price their standard quality trade paperback books at half of the listed price, unless it is a rare or collectible books, then it is priced—actually, I have no idea how Half Price Books decides the prices of rare or collectible books, there doesn’t seem to be any consistency or rhyme or reason to that decision. CommuniTea Books is slightly pricier than HPB because we offer a better quality product, considerably better service, and a more comfortable environment.
Yes, remainder books are new books, they have not been previously owned; these books were printed and shipped to a bookseller or distributer, and never sold. At which point the additional copies were bought by remainder outlets and are sold to various, usually independently owned bookstores, for considerably reduced prices. CommuniTea Books prices our remainder books at UNDER 50% the list price. And remainders do make up the second largest selection of our inventory at CommuniTea Books. They include classic, commercial, and obscure titles from almost any conceivable author.
We are grateful that we can offer these new books to our customers, and to our community, for less than is available almost anywhere, especially in, and around the San Antonio area, and Texas Hill Country (Boerne, Bandera, Bulverde, Comfort, Fair Oaks Ranch, Fredericksburg, Kerrville, Leon Springs, New Braunfuls, and Spring Branch).
Rare & Collectible Books:
Rare and Collectible books are books that are, obviously, difficult to come by, or have been printed in low numbers (First or Early Editions/Printings), and/or have been signed. The market creates a demand for these books, and therefore the value is increased, and the market is willing to pay. The value of these books is decided, also, by the market. CommuniTea Books researches the value of like or similar books that are considered rare or collectible because they are hard to find, they are an early edition/printing, and/or they have been signed, and we price them as low as the market suggests. Some booksellers involved in rare and collectible bookselling will sell at average or higher than the market suggests, it is important for us to get the book in the hands of someone who will appreciate it, and therefore we want to make it as accessible as possible for our customers.
Also, being a collector, I have a personal appreciate for precious literature, and would like to see that appreciation, and love shared, and continued by our community, by people.
With that said, we have collectible books priced as little as $5-10 and upwards to over $1,000. One of the most interesting things about books is that you could hold something in your hand, and never know the value of what you have, and, at the same time, hold something in your hand and over-estimate the value of what you have. An old book, just because it is old, does not necessarily mean that it holds value, and more often than not, it doesn’t. I have seen antique stores, and bookstores, over-price antiquarian books simply because they’re old. People will stamp a price of $20 on it, when it could be worth next to nothing—$1, 2, 3, or less—in that particular instance what gave that book value was nothing more than not knowing what it was, and ‘you’re’ willingness to pay for it. And, if that book maintains a sentimental value to you, at home, on your shelf, then great I’m not going to challenge or disagree with you, but if you could have found the same book on Amazon for pennies, or if no one else on the planet gives that particular book value, and that’s what you’re interested in, you probably should have invested that money in a comparably priced book on my shelf at CommuniTea Books—because we definitely, always do our research. We know what we have, we know what you have—you know, if you share it with us—and we do it because we love it, and we love sharing.
Harry Potter: if you have a first printing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Philosopher’s Stone), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and/or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban than you have something special, what you have is rare, and collectible and they have a monetized value. However, first editions after the first three books are, essentially, worthless. Don’t get me wrong having first printings of all 7 books is really cool, and is an awesome collection, but, again only the first three are worth anything…why? Because Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and every book following had massively large first printings, which is to say that sometimes it’s actually more difficult to find a copy that IS NOT a first printing.
In Santa Fe, New Mexico some of my friends and I had a running joke that if we found a copy of any book in the bibliography of a certain author we knew, that WAS NOT SIGNED it would be more valuable than the seemingly hundreds of copies we would persistently find that were signed. There is a well-known author there that loved to sign his books, I mean if he could get his hand on a copy, he would sign it—and no, this isn’t George R. R. Martin—it became a game for us, every time we went into a bookstore, to the point even that when I came back to Texas I would flip through his books if they were available in whichever bookstore I was in, and still, more often than not, I would find his signature on the title page of his books regardless of where I was.
It was funny, and it also illustrates the point about the value of books. You could have the most amazing, collectible book sitting on your shelf right now, and never know it, or you could have a collection of old leather back books with the newspaper inside torn slightly so that you could make it out as part of the cloth cover, sitting behind glass, and tucked away in plastic bags, and they could be worthless.
If you have questions about our pricing standards, or about rare or collectible books in general please feel free to message me, I hope this continues to offer insight into the world of books, bookstores, and CommuniTea Books!