Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Book sale justice

Jamie and I took a trip to Metcalf South Shopping Center tonight for the annual Johnson County Library Used Book Sale. It's awesome - seriously, check it out. It's the best used book sale in Kansas City, and it's going on all week.

After a few minutes at the sale, we noticed one of the things we despise most: poachers.

What are poachers? If you've been to a used book store, a thrift store or a used book sale in the past few years, you've probably seen one. They have little barcode scanners attached to their smart phones, and they scan each and every book they run across to see if they can make a profit by selling it online.

To put it plainly, these people are assholes. I hate them. If you are one, I hate you. What those people do is not illegal, but it's annoying an immoral as hell, in my opinion. Book sales are for people who love books; people who come in and take all the best ones simply to resell them at a profit are despicable human beings. They don't care about the books they're scanning; in fact, they generally don't look at anything except for the barcode.

Pictured: the hand of an asshole.

The poachers were out in force tonight at the book sale. They were working in teams; I saw three women who were connected to each other via bluetooth headset, talking over strategies wirelessly. All the poachers carted their finds around in big wheeled carts that, of course, blocked the stacks of books from the regular people who were just looking for good things to read. And they were aggressive, too; pity the poor soul who gets in between them and a table of potential profit.

Jamie and I shopped around for about an hour, then before exiting we found a bench and sat down to take stock of our selections and weed out the ones we really didn't want after all. We ended up with a stack of four or five books in a discard stack.

Before Jamie had a chance to re-shelve the books, I stopped her. I saw a poacher in front of us and I was struck with inspiration. I laid out my plan to Jamie, and we executed it brilliantly.

The poacher was scanning a table of books and had started to wander away from her cart. When the space between her and her cart got big enough, I stepped between the two. Jamie swiftly came in behind me and gently placed our leftover books in the poacher's cart, then walked off. When the poacher turned around and noticed I was between her and the cart, I apologized and walked away in the opposite direction.

We met up a few minutes later and high-fived.

The beauty of our revenge mission was that the poachers don't actually look at the books they scan, so she probably never noticed our books in her cart. When she gets home and scans the books again to post them on Amazon or eBay or wherever, she'll be confused as hell wondering why she put those books in her cart. Heck, maybe the four or five bucks we cost her will make her reconsider whether it's a profitable venture. Probably not, but a boy can dream.

As I said earlier, these people are completely within their rights to poach at used book sales. And I feel like I'm within my rights to screw with them. I have zero remorse, and I would happily do it again.

In fact, if you're a poacher, and I run across you at a book sale, don't be surprised if you end up with a few duds in your basket.


  1. Prior to that I spent about a half hour hovering over the education books which include books on teaching technique, classroom resources, reference books, & study guides. THREE poachers came and went spending anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes scanning books. I did whatever I could to get in their way. Anyone who is poaching books away from poor teachers & college students should eat crap & die.

  2. You all sound like nut cases.

  3. Perhaps their etiquette is incorrect and it maybe frustrating, but no illegal activity is taking place.

    1. That's exactly what I said in the post.

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