Used bookstores making a comeback

The death of the bookselling as a big-box business has a positive side-effect: the return of smaller, more specialized retailers. They operate more efficiently than doomed out-out-town B&Ns and offer a shopping experience Amazon can't compete with, capturing foot traffic and filling nostrils with the delightful scent of biblichor.

Used bookstores, with their quintessential quirkiness, eclectic inventory and cheap prices, find themselves in the catbird seat as the pendulum eases back toward print. In many cities, that's a de facto position: They're the only book outlets left… And it's a business with good economics. Used bookstores can beat Amazon and other online booksellers on price, offering shoppers both a browsing experience and a money-saving one. Also, profit margins on used books are better than new ones — so good that many indies are adding used sections.

Sensing a good deal, entrepreneurs are jumping in.