Carol’s Paperbacks a bookworm’s delight
BY ZACH MICKLEA
OU News Bureau
Between the nail salon and laundromat on Highland Road in Waterford sits Carol’s Paperback Plus — a used-book store with nearly 30 years in business.
Carol Long opened the store in the late ’80s. The store has not always been so close to the center of the city. Its original location was on Dixie Highway near Frembes Road, but Long felt the space on Highland would be better for business.
Long operated other business, including an ice cream shop, according to longtime employee and self-proclaimed “bookworm” Yvonne Sabourin.
“She wanted her own business,” Sabourin said. “She does love books.”
When it first opened, the business sold both new and used books. But in recent years, the store has moved to only used. In the front of the store, there is a dedicated section to authors from Michigan.
The latest new series the store carried was “Twilight,” which was sold at cost.
Mystery, sci-fi, self-help and political science have increased in popularity recently, but romance novels continue to be best-sellers. Many people now look for school books and classic titles, and Sabourin has noticed “a lot more young-adult books than there used to be.”
In total, the store carries roughly 5,000 books and trades newer and classic titles daily.
The trade system used at the store is one of the things that turns a new customer into a loyal customer. Customers who bring in a book get 75 percent of the original retail price of a book of equal or lesser value. Customers who do not have a book to trade in can still get 50 percent off the retail price.
Not all trade-ins are accepted, however. Books in poor condition are not taken. Long has a simple test that books need to go through, according to Sabourin.
“She always says she wants to only take in books that she wouldn’t be afraid to take to bed,” Sabourin said.
When trading in, each customer gets their own record – kept at the front desk – with handwritten math figuring how many books they have brought in to trade over the years. Periodically, Sabourin and other employees sort through the cards to remove cards that have not been used recently. The store also uses loyalty cards, which earns the customers discounts the more books they buy.
Long periodically meets with the owners of the three other used-book stores in the area to discuss how business is going, which books people are buying and which genres are getting popular. The group will also trade certain books with each other that their customers are looking for.
With the consumer shift to digital forms of reading, the owners also talk about challenges facing the business. Sabourin sees those as “getting new customers” primarily.
“Some people take a year to read a book, and some people take a day,” Sabourin said. “It is hard to know when they are going to come back.”
Regardless of the challenges, Carol’s Paperback Plus continues to sell and trade books with its clientele. Sabourin loves her job for one simple reason.
“I just love working here,” Sabourin said. “I get to meet so many great people.”
Carol’s Paperback Plus is at 5947 Highland Road, Waterford, Michigan 48327.
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