Evanston’s Bookends & Beginnings to start used book buyback program


Sneha Dey/The Daily Northwestern

Used books at Bookends & Beginnings. All used books will sport the navy blue “U” sticker.

Sneha Dey, Assistant City Editor

Nina Barrett (Medill ‘87) wants Northwestern students to find a literary haven in her bookstore, Bookends & Beginnings, but she knows how expensive books can be. Barrett hopes the store’s new used book buyback program will alleviate this cost burden and engage student readers.

Bookends & Beginnings will begin a new initiative March 9, through which people can trade in their gently used books for store credit. Buyback hours are every Saturday and Sunday, from 1 to 5 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. respectively.

Barrett said used books offer Bookends & Beginnings customers a wider range of titles and can enhance the browsing experience.

“What we’re really encouraging here is for people to come in and spend some time and look at what’s on the shelf and maybe find things that they didn’t know that they wanted,” Barrett said. “The used books expands the enjoyment of that experience.”

Bookends & Beginnings will join three other local bookstores — Market Fresh Books, Amaranth Books and Beck’s Bookstore — in selling used books. Bookends & Beginnings has accepted book donations in the past but has never formally accepted used books before.

Before Bookends & Beginnings opened in 2014, the rare and antique bookstore Bookman’s Alley occupied the space for 50 years. Barrett said she has always been aware “that’s how people knew the space” and recognized the value of bringing in used books.

The local bookstore plans to be selective about the kinds of books they will take. Barrett said the store will not accept textbooks, old encyclopedias and out-of-date texts. The store is primarily interested in literary fiction, children’s books and scholarly press.

Bookends & Beginnings will also take audiobooks and CDs — something the store has not sold in the past. Barrett said both audiobooks and CDs do not sell fast, and the resale market allowed Bookends & Beginnings to sell an otherwise expensive type of product.

Bookseller Brooke Williams, who has run used book buyback programs at other stores, said this type of program allows titles to move in and out of stores faster. Williams said she loves working with used books.

“When you work with these books, you find a lot of really cool stuff,” Williams said. “Every day is different because you never know what you’re going to see with used books.”

Growing up, Williams said she spent a lot of time in her local used bookstore. Once the program at Bookends & Beginnings starts, she said she will be heading the book buyback program.

Northwestern political science Prof. Jeff Rice, who also worked in the Evanston book business for 27 years, said he almost exclusively purchases books from Bookends & Beginnings — he currently purchases at least one book a week from the local store. Rice said Bookends & Beginnings creates “a salon-like atmosphere.”

“They may trade in books, but they also trade in ideas and culture,” Rice said.

Rice said he likes to recirculate his fiction books. He plans to take advantage of the buyback program and will bring shopping bags filled with his own used books to contribute to the store.

“It’s another way independent booksellers can stake out a piece of the community,” Rice said. “The trick is to get people in your store. If offering used books will get more people or different people in your store, that’s a good thing.”

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