Breathing New Life Into Used Books

Sam Sacks reveals his secrets to stocking the shelves:

The chance of discovery is vital to the act of book-browsing, so I always tried to fill the categories that attract different kinds of truth-seekers—religion, new age, and philosophy. The habitués of these sections (along with those of classics, children’s books, and cookbooks) compose a bookstore’s most enthusiastic patrons, and they add to its sense of magic. A few more rules of thumb. Biographies and memoirs are badly oversaturated genres, and I sorted them according to personal bias (Twain biographies reached the store, addiction memoirs usually did not). Cookbooks are aesthetically appealing and, even though recipes can be quickly found on line, people like buying them—keep a big, diverse mix, but avoid books by celebrity chefs, who quickly go the way of Dan Brown.