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Ashland's own 'local Internet bookstore'

Jim Craven photo

The Bookwagon carves out a niche in the used book market

ASHLAND — — combining the discount of remaindered books, the ease and volume of the Internet and the allure of a used bookstore, Carl Hilton, owner of Ashland's new Bookwagon, thinks he may have found the unbeatable combination.

Tucked in the back of Ashland Shopping Center beside a laundromat, the modestly sized Bookwagon offers new and used books in all categories. But the big draw is its flat 30 percent off all new books, its three-day turnaround on special-order new books (also discounted) and its rapid, global access to millions of used books on the Internet.

— — — Company name:

The Bookwagon

— — Product/service:

Your local Internet bookstore, — offering new and used books

— — Location:

1652 Ashland St. (just up from DJ's Video)

— — Phone:

541-488-4477

— — Hours:

10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday

— — Owners/managers:

Carl Hilton and Kirsten Bakke

— — Internet:

carl@bookwagon.com or www.bookwagon.com — where you can link to all Bookwagon titles on abs.com — — The Bookwagon is an instant gateway to the global Advanced Book Exchange (www.abe.com), a Canadian cyber-bookmall listing 5,000 dealers with a detailed, searchable database of 21 million titles. You pay Hilton $3.50 plus shipping and if anyone has it (they will), it?ll be in your hands pronto, he said.

If Hilton doesn't have the new book you want, he gets it from Ingram's, the huge national wholesale book distributor with a warehouse in Roseburg and its entire 500,000-title inventory searchable online. He orders on Wednesday and will have it for you on Friday, and, because he orders in big lots, there are no shipping charges.

I couldn't do it without Ingram's being nearby, he said. You may get zero to 40 percent off new books at online places like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but when you pay shipping, you?re basically paying full retail.

Hilton prices his 3,500 used books at 40 percent of the full retail price, not half, as do most other used book stores, he said. So, with a 30 percent new-book discount, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire would be $18.20 instead of $25.95, with used copies going for 40 percent of retail, or $10.40.

Hilton offers another big draw: If you buy a new book from him and trade it in within 90 days, you get 20 percent off another new book purchase, which, combined with the standard 30 percent discount, gives you 50 percent off. So, the new Harry Potter book, purchased with the new book trade-in, now becomes $13.

Other stores trade in used books, but the trading of new books is a new concept in this area, he said.

Hilton's selection of remaindered books (leftover from printings a year or two ago) sell for 60 to 80 percent off. So, the $26 book that was a wee bit dear last year might go for as little as $5.20.

Ashland has one new and three used bookstores downtown, but Hilton feels his is well-shopped because people like having a store on this side (south) of town. It's easy to park, the shopping center has other shops people need to go to and they can bring a heavy box of books to trade in without having to haul them a long way.

About 75 percent of his business (both off-the-shelf and sales from cyber-search) walks through the door, while a fourth comes via Net inquiries from other dealers.

Shopper Stephen Truelove, of Ashland, said, It's a pretty good little bookstore, although they've got some growing to do to get a browsing base. It's cheaper than Barnes & Noble and Amazon and I like to support the local merchants.

I really love it, said Renee Tschetter, of Ashland. It has a great location and I read a lot, so I appreciate the discounts and trades.

Hilton's wife, Kirsten Bakke, works at home cataloging books and putting them on the cyber-list.

Hilton ran a used book store in Lansing, Mich., for 20 years, then did hotel-restaurant work at Windmill's Ashland Hills Inn, followed by two years at Medford's Barnes & Noble, then two years as an Internet-only book dealer.

I got going again in books from finding them at yard sales and selling them on the Net. I've loved books since I was a kid. I love to read and I just like the feel of handling books.

Carl Hilton operates the new Bookwagon bookstore in the Ashland Shopping Center along with his wife, Kirsten Bakke, right, and his daughter, Erika Bakke. The Bookwagon offers 30 percent off all new books, a three-day turnaround on special orders and global access to millions of used books on the Internet.