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The Beginnings of Vintage Reads

By William Shelton • January 09, 2018

I joined ThriftBooks in 2009 when the Dallas Processing Center opened. In the ensuing years, I have witnessed most of the breathtaking, inspiring, and at times frightening growth of ThriftBooks that not only propelled our company forward but also revolutionized the entire industry. When I reflect on the many improvements to policy and procedure that I have observed and helped bring to fruition, one that stands out is the development of a program which would allow ThriftBooks to process non-ISBN books.

Traditionally, online booksellers were unable to list books that did not include an International Standard Book Number, which was necessary for cataloging purposes. This excluded any copy of a book printed prior to the introduction of ISBNs in 1970, and as a result, many rare first editions were only available in brick-and-mortar stores.

I recall that a former ThriftBooks executive would browse the bookshelf in my office with a covetous eye whenever he would visit the Dallas processing center. While I would lament that ThriftBooks had no way of listing such rare books, in the same breath I would thank him for the company's generous free book policy, which allows employees of ThriftBooks to acquire books. The policy specifically allowed me to collect these valuable treasures for my private library: a 1670 edition of the King James Version of the Bible (very early since it was first published in 1611); a first edition of Gone With The Wind autographed by Margaret Mitchell and including press clippings from Atlanta newspapers; and a true first edition of the British inquiry of the Titanic sinking.

In 2011, this same executive challenged me to work with the Software Development Team to create a new program that would enable ThriftBooks to list non-ISBN items for sale. Over time, this program evolved to recognize author signatures, first editions, and other rare books. Through the contribution of many at our corporate office and a dedicated group of book lovers working throughout our Processing Centers, today we have the Rare & Collectible offering dedicated to delivering these amazing treasures into the hands of our customers.

About the Author: William Shelton has been a part of ThriftBooks Operations since he joined the staff of the Dallas processing center in 2009. He is a native Texan, was educated at Southern Methodist University (go Mustangs!), and devotes his spare time to his two passions: the Episcopal church and his ancestral family estate, where he specializes in growing rare heritage vegetables and fruit varieties imported from all over the world. He is an avid reader who neither owns nor watches a television, preferring to spend his professional and private time surrounded by books.

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