by Andrew Keyser
Upon entering Booktraders book store, one cannot help but notice the vast amounts of books crowding the shelves, sitting in windows and stacked up on the floor.
Booktraders’ owner Harold “Hal” Moos is featured in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” for having the largest collection of paperback books.
Each of Moos’ books has a different title. At last count, Moos had more than 400,000 books in the collection, adding 1,000 more paperbacks every week.
Moos receives all trade-ins to his house and sorts through them, keeping what he likes for his own collection. Any duplicates of what he already has are sent to the store and sold.
Even better than the huge selection are the unbeatable prices.
Prices range from 60 cents to $10. These prices drop even more when patrons choose to set-up a trade account, as Booktraders relies solely on trade-ins to stock their store.
Booktraders will accept any book for trade in acceptable condition; this is defined as books that are not considerably ripped, stained or tattered in general.
To begin a trade, customers bring in used books and receive 75 percent of the cover price in trade credit, which never expires. Customer cards are then created and kept on file in-store and are held until customers are ready to buy new books.
If a customer doesn’t have a trade account, prices are slightly higher, but all prices are written inside book covers.
“There are rarely sales or student discounts at Booktraders because the prices are already low and trade-in offers help compensate book traders,” said Charna Rouse, Booktraders’ only employee since 2009.
Booktraders isn’t like other modern bookstores with an organized inventory. As soon as the store accepts a trade, the books get priced and are placed in the matching genre section.
“We are not computerized. You have to hunt and peck,” Rouse said. “Bring a Thermos and sandwich because you’ll be here a while.”
Rouse runs Booktraders with only a handful of community volunteers to assist her. With the number of books coming in each week, it would be hard for Rouse to keep up by herself.
With only one paid employee, prices remain low and a tight-knit community feel is maintained in the store, but they always need help, Rouse said.
Some of the volunteers who work in the shop now have attempted to organize the store by providing a list of authors on each set of shelves and posting them so customers can usually find who they are looking for.
Rod Wells, a Spokane native, has been volunteering at Booktraders since it was purchased by Moos more than five years ago.
“I spend more time here than anyone,” Wells said.
When Wells is not organizing the shelves or attempting to sort through the massive collection of literature, he spends time reading books in the store as volunteers are able to give their time in exchange for books.