Shop Around

Bookseller turning page:New to used

krupon@thestate.com(803) 771-8308April 29, 2013 

Books-A-Million on Harbison Boulevard has closed, but the Alabama-based chain’s second-hand bookstore brand — 2nd & Charles — will take its place.

The Harbison outlet closed April 20, a person answering the phone at the store Monday confirmed. The retailer closed its West Ashley store in the Charleston area in February and its Florence store in late 2011, according to reports. Clerks answering the phones Monday at Books-A-Million locations in Forest Acres’ Trenholm Plaza and Northeast Richland’s Village at Sandhill said those locations will remain open.

It was unclear Monday when 2nd & Charles will open. The former Books-A-Million address — 275 Harbison Blvd. — is listed under 2nd & Charles locations as “coming soon.” 2nd & Charles has nine locations currently from Delaware to Louisiana, according to its website.

Efforts to reach Books-A-Million and 2nd & Charles spokespeople Monday were unsuccessful.

The new store will work like this, according to its website: Customers bring in used books, CDs or DVDs, drop them in a bin and take a number. They then can browse the store while its “buy-back” team decides how much money to offer for the items, based on their condition and current inventory. When the customer’s number flashes on one of the screens in the store, they return to the buy-back desk where an employee will offer cash or store credit — or the customer can take back the items.

Bookstores have struggled in recent years amid the worst economic downturn in a lifetime and the increasing popularity of electronic books, available on e-readers, tablets and smartphones.

Big-box bookseller Borders closed in 2011 and Barnes & Noble said earlier this year that it would close 20 stores a year for the next decade, slashing its retail operations by a third. South Carolina also has seen many of its independent booksellers — including Forest Acres’ Happy Bookseller — shutter, dwindling to about two dozen shops from nearly 120 in the mid-’90s.

The 2nd & Charles used-bookstore concept was introduced by Books-A-Million in the fall of 2010 as one of that company’s strategies for remaining relevant, according to marketing material. “They wanted a store that had both a sense of historical place as well as a modern edge: one that felt less like a thrift store and more like a well-designed gallery/library.”

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