I have had an abebooks account for many years, and have bought from secondhand booksellers from around the world. Often buying a book is a little anonymous and disconnected and you don’t often get the chitchat you might get in person. Then again, I tend to be shyer in secondhand bookshops and never chitchatted much. Online often meant I could buy the thing and avoid the conversation :-)
Perhaps I’m coming round to being the person it would have been nice to have been 30 years ago. I lamented elsewhere, my lack of engagement with book conventions and worldcons for science fiction. I am the person I am now and that’s fine. The beauty of sites like abeooks is that they provide easy access to bookshops around the world and at times an easier way to buy from bookshops that aren’t english, yet have interesting wares.
Occasionally, these bookshops from around the world will send chatty emails, sometimes I respond though the challenge is that I don’t end up being a regular as it were. Though that is less and less true and I have ended up with membership accounts on a couple eg Kathmandu Books and Camelot Books in the US. Camelot for example, are able to hold books for me and package together to save on postage – postage rates out of the US these days are horrible.
I s’pose I’m building up a list of my own trusted retailers. Bookshops that provide accurate descriptions and pictures, pack well, and engage. Some descriptions online don’t always match what you end up with. Visiting a bookshop in person you can see what you’re getting and assess the worth on the spot. Buying online is a different experience with a little more trust involved. I’ve mostly bought well but have had occasional issues with for example ex library books that didn’t indicate sufficiently the extent of library markings and stickers.
I commented elsewhere that I’ve been joining a few facebook groups on books and collecting. I’ve even bought some books from other participants eg the recently arrived Broken Earth trilogy. I ordered a book last night via abebooks (A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick, Suntup Artist Gift Edition) from a bookshop called Barsoom Books and it turns out I’ve chatted to the guy from there occasionally in the facebook groups. Was nice to be dealing with someone familiar, and from the scene as it were.