Need a new book? How about 60,000 used ones?
Name the genre and it's likely well-represented in both hard and soft cover among the used books stacked in boxes and in haphazard piles inside a few thousand square feet of space on the third floor of a 12-story building at 220 Madison St.
There are classics, out-of-print titles, steamy romance novels, cheesy science fiction stories and biographies on an assortment of characters.
But every one must be out by the end of July.
"Lesson learned," Carrie Carnes said. "It's a hoarding situation and now we're rushed to get it done."
Carnes and her husband, Matt Saxon, own Old Tampa Book Co. at 507 N Tampa St. downtown.
They keep their backlog of inventory in the Madison Street overstock space, around the corner from their store.
But the Madison Street building has been sold and the storage needs of Old Tampa Book Co. are not part of its future.
The 60,000 books are 20,000 more than are kept on the shelves of its 1,200-square-foot shop.
Carnes will rent a storage unit in Seminole Heights but can only afford to keep it for three months. That's how long she has to sell the overstock.
The store will carry on regardless of whether it profits from the sale of the inventory. Still, Carnes said, as a small business, every penny counts.
Old Tampa Book Co. is known for its daily sidewalk sales, with some 2,000 titles displayed on tables and carts.
The store was founded more than two decades ago by David and Ellen Brown. Seven years ago, the Browns hired Carnes as manager and in 2015 sold her the store for $60,000 and took on a few thousand dollars of the business' debt .
The total value at the time of 40,000 books on the shelves plus the other 20,000 in storage was put at $650,000.
Later that year, Carnes was offered what she called another great deal — a collection of 30,000 books "for pennies on the dollar." A few months later, a different collector sold her 6,000 more, also at a low price.
"We never planned on moving them so soon," co-owner Saxon said. "We thought we'd have more time to go through them and sell them."
Other local independent bookstore owners can relate to the challenge of overstocking.
"Any book retailer faces it daily," said Ray Hinst, who owns St. Petersburg's iconic, 30,000-square-foot Haslam's Book Store. Haslam's boasts an inventory of 300,000 — a mix of new and used — with two-thirds of them on the shelves and the rest in storage onsite.
"It's one of those things you have to keep an eye on at all times," Hinst said. "Thankfully it's been a while since we had that quandary."
The third floor of 220 Madison St. is scheduled to be turned into a common area serving residents of the micro-apartments that will be developed on floors five through 12 of the building.
Omar Garcia, manager of micro-apartment developer Urban Core, said he is under contract to purchase the building but the sale is not official yet. He estimates construction will begin by September.
Still, current building owner Westwind Development IV wants the books gone by the end of July, Carnes said.
She first learned of the building sale in April through news reports.
Carnes is not complaining, though. She only paid rent on 600 square feet in the building but took over thousands more square feet over the last few years.
"They've been a great landlord," she said.
Still, she isn't looking forward to the task ahead of her.
"This is backbreaking labor," Carnes said with a laugh. "We'll never let this happen again. For now on, small purchases only."
Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] Follow @PGuzzoTimes.