Not an easy question to answer. First, every Book Store owner prides himself on being a sharp Book Scout. All of them buy used books. That’s what they do. Even working in their own store they are Book Scouts. Boxes arrive tumbling in with bugs, yard sell items, and books with torn covers and hard bounds with no dust jackets. You see it everyday. You have to book scout these boxes just like you would the shelves of a dusty hide-away that nobody knows about.
This particular Owner was always out looking for a copy of John Grisham’s first book, A Time to Kill. It was published in Soft cover with a very small release on the East Coast. Mostly by John himself as the rumor has it. This volume is the true first edition of the book. When The Firm became a monster hit, A Time to Kill was published in Hard Bound and it went out as a First Edition.
Now finding a book like this is not going to be easy. You’re probably not going to find it. Yes, it would make his collection of books even more valuable to have this soft bound copy, but it was the bragging rights of having it that Book Scouts love to tell. “Oh, you mean you don’t have a copy of the soft bound version?”
So one day the book dealer was digging in his basement for books. A unique store having a basement with all the problems of hauling books up and down the stairs, but he had one, and customers loved to go down and prowl though the shelves looking for great reads or rare books.
Sitting on a stool the book dealer cangura worked over a row of books and spotted a softbound book that had the title of A Time to Kill on it. He pulled it out and glanced at it. His hands started to shake as he examined the book. It was the first edition he had been looking for. It was in his own store sitting on his shelf. He looked at the price. He had priced it at $10.00. Anybody could have purchased the book.
The answer is to look everywhere! You never know when you are going to find used books. But be sure to look at what you already own because you just might not remember what you have. Even more important, there is a lot of good used Book Stores around who have no idea what they have. Nobody can know everything about books. I have stood next to scouts and have them pull off books that I had no idea that had any resale value, and I have pulled off books right next to them that they passed up. Plenty of room out there, and there are books sitting in book stores worth thousands of dollars that you can buy for $10.00. Does this happen everyday? No, it does not. It might never happen, but that won’t keep us from not looking.