If you are buying used books in Knoxville, you go to McKay’s. I’m sure there are other options. I don’t know them. I’m not looking for them either. I’ve been a McKay’s fan since my oldest child was a toddler and that is too many decades ago to break a routine. McKay’s used to be an old house with squeaky, tilted floors. The bookcases were packed in so tightly that you literally rubbed shoulders and backs with the other shoppers. The children’s section was just outside of the old home’s tiny bathroom. If you had a child who sang while they sat, every parent in the children’s area giggled during the solo performances that could be heard in half the store. It was home for book people.

Many years ago, McKay’s moved to a huge two story warehouse. It smelled like metal and glass instead of wood and paper. It’s well lit, the shelves are almost organized and the aisles are wider. Small children play on the elevator instead of clustering together on the floor. After the shock of the change wore off, book people seemed to silently agree to pretend this was the way things had always been. The free books in the bin outside the new warehouse probably don’t reek of cat urine, but as I’ve already mentioned that I am a creature of habit, I’ve been trained to avoid that bin.

All of the other shoppers in McKay’s go to the section they want, pick books off the shelf and look at the jackets until their hand basket or arms are full of books to buy.

I’m a PITA shopper who spends so long standing stationary on aisles in the half dozen sections I like, that I hear “excuse me” in every possible tone of annoyance and irritation. I start off looking for the authors on my watchlist. This includes the eternal search for better hard covers of loved paperbacks that are already on my shelves. After that, I look at random book covers of titles that grab my attention. There’s a mood shopping element to this that makes every trip to McKay’s slightly unique. Then, I open the book and look at all the titles in the series. If I’m still interested at this point, I scan the bar code with Goodreads and do a skimmy kind of read to see ratings and the first few words of reviews while trying to avoid spoilers. After this, I compare the cost of the used book to the price of it new. Then, I flip it like a deck of cards to make sure it isn’t excessively scribbled, highlighted or hiding something gross, like an old cookie that’s been squished flat by time. That’s not a random example, btw.

Other than that, I’m a perfectly normal shopper…

except when I realize that I’m singing along with the store’s mood music.

So, who wants to go with me to McKay’s?

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