Which books are selling most easily at used bookstores now

Danika Ellis Aug 15, 2016

A funny thing about working at a used bookstore is that there is only so much control you have over your stock. You can select from what people bring in, but you can’t make more people bring you the books you want the most. Book buyers have to mentally calculate how many copies of this title we already have, how many we expect to sell, and what space we have for it. Sometimes a book piles up for years only to sell out in a week when a popular radio show mentions it.

But there are some books that stay constant. Some books, despite being published decades (or centuries!) ago, still can’t seem to stay on the shelves. This is a mix of a) sheer popularity and b) the delicate ratio of how copies go out the door vs how many books come in. Some books we sell in huge amounts, but we also buy stacks of, so it creates a perfect balance. Usually, it just doesn’t add up that way, and we either end up with too many or not enough. Here are 17 books that are inexplicably difficult to keep on the shelf.

  1. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
  2. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julie Child
  3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  4. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
  7. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  8. Carrie & The Shining by Stephen King
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  10. Anything by Haruki Murakami
  11. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  12. Animal Farm & 1984 by George Orwell
  13. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Persig
  14. Anything by Terry Pratchett
  15. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  16. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  17. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

These are all books that have been out for many years, but have consistently sold at a rate higher than we can bring in used. You can begin to see some patterns, like books that are commonly assigned in school, books that are often passed down through families, but others are a mystery.

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