[DWJ] Another question for the brain trust

Mark Allums mark at allums.com
Tue May 1 21:20:42 EDT 2007

Was the scanner attached to anything, like a laptop computer?  There is 
a device called a CueCat that is available in the US from a marketing 
idea that flopped, and it can be bought from various outlets cheap and 
used for reading UPCs and ISBNs.  I can't answer about the database the 
guy was using, but I expect there exists one or several that price out 
books, since at every college and university, they know exactly how much 
to give when they buy back used textbooks.  It's probably a wholesaler's 
"guild" thing.

--Mark Allums

Melissa Proffitt wrote:
> So I was in the thrift store buying books for my friend's library and I saw,
> again, a couple of boys (fine, yes, they were early twenties, I'm just old)
> with a bitty hand-held scanner going over the ISBN bar codes.  This is not
> the first time I've seen this, and I asked one of the kids before (they've
> all been early-twenties males, what's up with that) what he was doing.  He
> said that he was a "book collector" and he was determining which books were
> worth buying.  The scan returns some minimal data on resale price or
> something.
> I'm too lazy to figure out how to even start looking this up online (also I
> have a meeting in about forty minutes), so I thought I'd let all y'all do
> the work for me.  What exactly is going on here?  Where does the data come
> from?  Are they trying to build personal libraries that their heirs will
> someday come to blows over, or just make a killing on eBay?  It looks like
> they're trying to use technology as a substitute for actual knowledge, but
> for all I know this is some semi-secret boys' club where they collect
> obscure juvenile biographies like twelve-year-olds collect Pokemon cards.
> Or, you know, whatever kids collect these days.
> Melissa Proffitt

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