Do You Buy Used Books?

I have an irrational predjudice against buying used books. There’s something about a used book which makes me liken it to a pair of used shoes.

I want to be the one to open it for the first time, and hear that “virgin book” crackle. I love the smell of a fresh, new book. The pages are smooth and not tattered. The corners have no knicks.

Used books may have a wrinkled page, a dog ear, a food splatter, or, God forbid, underlining, and/or marginal notes. It may not have that delicious smell, or the spine may be broken. It’s even worse should I buy it used from Amazon, having never gotten to inspect it for damage, thus, I will usually pay the extra money for a new copy, which will arrive safely ensconced in shrink wrap, or caccooned by foam “peanuts.”

What about you guys? How do you feel about buying used books? I’m not talking about college texts, because, God knows, they’re outrageously expensive, and it’s best to buy them used. I’m talking about a book you will read for pleasure.

All the time,I am unable to pass a used book store. I have found books you can’t get any other way and at good prices.

I don’t buy used books. My friend works at a used book store, gets paid a dollar in book store money and has loads of the stuff and insists that I never pay for a book when I come to that store.

The only thing I have against used books is the fact that some of them have inscriptions from the loved ones who gave the book as a gift or whatnot and it can get a touch creepy and sad especially if the book is quite good.

Used books are the best! You never know what out-of-print treasure you’re going to find. Some of my favorite finds are an autographed Emily Post and an old edition of Words Into Type with a fabulous assortment of clippings taped onto the endpapers and throughout the book. Reading was definitely a contact sport for that book’s owner. For some books I have a “shelf copy” (the nice pristine hardcover version) and a “reading copy” (old used paperback that can clunk around in the bottom of my purse or fall into the bathtub with no great loss).

Plus you can often find used books that are good as new for a price of practically nothing. I can’t afford new hardcovers anymore, but I still like to acquire them.


Depends on the book. There are some really dodgy books, ya know the ones with the musty/dusty/toilet smell, yellowed pages and squashed spiders and crumbs inbetween the pages.

I’ve picked up a few gems though, particularily with near-new paperback non-fiction. Picked up a historical book with no spinal creases for 40% of the new price, obviously a present no-one liked.

I meant to add that I would liken used books not to used shoes, but to antiques with a colorful and intriguing history.

Excuse me sir but the books with the crumbs between the covers are usually the best ones since the reader was so engrossed with the story that they could not bear to put the book down even when engaging in their daily repast.
Plus most used book stores have stuff that’s been remaindered, overprinted stuff or those books with the funky cut edges that aren’t smooth and square but they’re still fine books.

I have no problem buying used books, trouble is, most of the time they are out of date.

I almost NEVER buy new books, they are so overpriced.

Lissa, ever consider getting that new book feeling at a library? :slight_smile:

There’s nothing quite like wandering through a thrift store or used bookstore, looking for something special, or just looking for whatever you might find.

I don’t buy the heavily worn copies of books, but if you go often, and really look, you can find gently used or never-read copies of books.
People inherit old collections of books all the time and have no idea what to do with them, and more often than not they dump them off at the Salvation Army or Goodwill or a used bookstore. You can find some real treasures, or even just a copy of something a few years old that you wanted to read.

Dear God, * NO!!! *

The library people are mean! They want the books back! They send increasingly threatening letters until they are returned.

Seriously, I want to keep books that I read, because sometimes a snippet of information will pop into my head, and I’ll need the book to verify it, or I just want to re-visot “old friends.” My library is enormous, and upon seeing it, people can’t believe that I really re-read all of my books, but I do. I just can’t bear to part with them once I’ve “fallen in love.”

I do have a collection of antique books, but I don’t really think of them as “used” the way I would a battered paperback. I know the only difference is age, but I told you from the beginning that I am irrational.

I try to avoid buying new books, except those which I need for work. I do not need to read the “great new novel” that everyone else is reading this month. (There seems to be less of that since Oprah ended her estrogen reading list.) Yes, I am the guy reading Tolstoy over lunch in the company cafeteria.

I keep myself to a strict budget, and I am able to buy twelve to a hundred used books for what one new novel may cost. I cannot justify such extravagance for something merely to amuse myself.

I will not buy a used book sight unseen, though. I like to inspect the volume to avoid marginalia (I passed on a copy of On the Beach earlier this week because of an overly zealous annotator.)

The “new book” sensory experience is overrated. I buy books for the words inside them, not how they feel on my fingers.

If you like Science Fiction or Mystery, or Fantasy or Westerns, then how can you not shop the used book stores? So much of the really good stuff is out of print!

This is even true of mainstream books.I first read The Great Escape in a used edition. It was years before it was reprinted.

I found copy of The Phantom of the Opera after years of searching. It’s common now, since the Andrew loyd Weber musical, but before that came out it was virtually unobtainable. My copy came from the last time it had been filmed before the Broadway/London production opened – it was a movie tie-in to the 1960s Herbert Lom version.

I know the location of every used book store in a 20 mile radius of where I live. My favorite used book stores were Jelly’s in Honolulu and The Artful Dodger in Kahului.
Heaven will have a used book store the size of LAX.
Where was I? L.A.? Sorry, I never buy used books either. I go to yard sales, or rummage sales for books too.
It’s a shame how much new books cost.

I dig old books precisely because they show the wear and tear of others. Sometimes I wonder if the previous reader laughed or cried at a particular passage, if they were as tempted to throw the book in disguist. A child’s doodle, or a phone number. Dogears rivalling origami. These are things I don’t do to books, yet these used gems feel full of life to me.

Paradoxically, I don’t feel the same way about library books that have suffered abuse. When I come across a particularly mutilated book (pictures cut out), I mentally consign the abuser to a book hell where the last chapter is missing.

Heck yes, I buy used books. Unfortunately, I only get to wander through used-book stores 3 or 4 times a year at most, so I’m mostly limited to shopping online. Fortunately, I’ve had really good luck with; never been burned by them, and the descriptions of their dealers’ offerings have proven generally accurate so far.

I just plain can’t afford new books.

But thats okay. I kind of like used books. They remind me of my mother’s bookshelf at home- musty and yellowed and comforting. The bookstore by me has a pretty active “new arrivals” box in their used section, and most of the books that end up their are either classics or recently popular books mixed with only a tiny bit of wierd dreck. I stop by once a week and I always find three or four books that I’ve been meaning to read.

Then again, I also wear pretty much exclusivly thrift-store clothes.

Of course! I love used bookstores, I want what’s on the page, the words, and if I find a bargain or a hard to find treasure or an oddity - so much the better.

I will bypass a copy of something I want if it’s falling apart, in nasty (smelly, stained, or worse) condition, or has lots of food or bugs between the pages. But you find great stuff if you know how to look or are persistent enough.

I love the local friends of the public library bookstores in particular. I find great books at fantastic prices and I’m supporting the library doing it. To spend about $10 and walk out of there with an armload of great reading beats the new bookstore any day.

Notable books I’ve found used lately:
A hardback collection of Saint stories from 1945 for $2.
A hardback and apparently never read copy of The Fatal Shore for $2.
An old hardback edition (1940s-1950s) of Ulysses in great condition for $4.
About half of Don Delillo’s output of novels for around a buck each.

And no telling how many paperbacks of stuff I’ve wanted but can’t find new.

The way I look at it, Heaven will BE a used book store. :wink:

I can’t read used books. At all. I’ll buy them, and then I just can’t read them, because they’re all dirty and used. Similarly, I never go to the library. I need to buy my books, and keep them in very good shape, on my shelves. I’m just neurotic about it.

I rarely buy books that are not used. At a used bookstore everything isn’t in perfect order. That’s the beauty of it! When looking for a specific title or subject you’ll run smack into a topic you’ve never even heard of!

In a regular bookstore the books are prefectly new, nobody’s read a page, they’re all perfect. They have no history behind them. I like opening a book and finding a quickly scrawled letter to someone wishing them good luck on a test… Dated 1970.

They still have the same information in them, they’re cheaper, and you can write in the margins, highlight what you feel like and not care! Why? Because its not a beautiful color coordinated, heavy dustcover, no creased pages, no small coffee spill no little thumbprint on the front cover, spine not even cracked BOOK.

And thanks to used bookstores a good half of my collection of examples of propaganda have been found. Try to find that in Boarders.