The Book Rack – North Olmstead

Holy Bad Bookstores Batman!

Maybe I’ve been pampered with very well set up and organized used bookstores – even when said bookstores are in less than ideal locations. The Novel Idea and Frogtown Books in Toledo, Ohio are crown jewels of used bookstores. The Book Abbey of Adrian, Mi – opened by a former employee of Novel Idea and whose influence is clear in her own store – is wonderful. Even the little book shop in Tecumseh, whose name I forget and who is in a less than fantastic space, is very well organized, lighted and clean. Looking through the books and finding what you want is easy. The prices are fair. And the experience enjoyable.

None of these things can be said for The Book Rack. the lighting was mediocre, the aisles cluttered and the shelves were incomrehensible. After wandering among the shelves for thirty minutes I am still not entirely sure how they choose to organize their store. Since one section specifically said “Recently Alphabatized,” I’m guessing that this marvel of a system for organization hasn’t been employed before and they were warning their regular customers, if they exist, that they may actually be able to find something with ease for a change.

Looking past the near impossibility of finding what you are looking for on the shelves, the space itself is cramped. They clearly try to cram too many books into too small a space. Part of this, understandably, is simply economics. Space costs money so sometimes you only have what you have and you make the best of it. But treating the store like an abused storage shed isn’t necessarily the best way to display your wares. Sometimes you may just have to face facts – you can’t display everything.

They do get credit for having their prices easy to find, stamped on the inside front cover or first page. But there’s also the problem – they’re stamped. It might be a small thing but it’s ugly as all hell. And they have no set pricing system so there’s no telling what one book will be priced compared to another. Their website claims their pricing is half off the cover but this store doesn’t follow it. 

The Book Rack’s website says they are a “national cooperative of used book stores.” I would suggest they work more cooperatively and set some standards for their “cooperative.” For the North Olmstead store in particular, with what appears to be an impressive inventory to make for a compelling little bookstore, I would suggest closing shop for a week, taking everything down and just re-organizing the store. Tidy it up. Re-organize. Maybe install some new lights. The work would be a hassle. It would be tedious. But I think it could do a world of good for the little store.

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