Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Dutton's wasn't really All That

OK, I'll bite: I enjoyed Dutton's as much as the next bibliofiend. Whenever the words on my computer screen would bear down with such force that I had to duck out of the way, it was a nice place to browse for a well-earned break, to look at other writer's words and reassure myself that, yes, it CAN be done.

I have read all the encomiums in the local press - there have been many. Sure, the place had its haphazard charm, hidden treasures abounded, blah, blah, blah. But I have a beef with all of this Dutton's love and it has to do with the pricing system of the place. That is, for a used bookstore, the discounts were measly and hard to come by. Over the years, I became inured to the following routine: Pick up an interesting looking volume (invariably some well-thumbed paperback with crisp brown pages) flip to the inside cover, only to discount. This shock is similar to the one you get when pulling an empty carton of milk from the fridge that you assume is full: one thinks, Why on earth would anyone do THAT?

Dutton's would sell 30-year-old books that were worth no more than 50 cents for their original retail price. I found this to be an egregious, unconscionable offense, especially for all of those penny-pinching book lovers who look to used stores for their supply. It's too bad that L.A. is short another used book store, but I can't say I will mourn Dutton's passing with any rueful regret for its glory days.

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