Is it time for the social stigma about buying used as a gift be stopped?

Let’s say that my neighbor’s birthday is coming up and he had just finished Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” and loved it. I ask his wife what he wants for his birthday and she replied “any of his other books”. I log on to my computer and go to and see that a new copy is on sale for $10.88 or I can get a used copy for $0.01.

So now I can get him a gift of what he wants, but I’m compelled to only buy new. It’s the exact same book and it will definitely not be a collector’s piece. For some reason, if the book was out of print, then it would be ok to buy used, but why does it seem like it’s not ok to buy it used when it’s still in print? (Same goes for any other item like a movie or album too).

Remember it’s not the gift or the thought that counts, it is the “thought BEHIND the gift” that counts.

Giving someone a used copy of a book says “This person isn’t worth a new gift.” Now whether or not that is true, I don’t know but it comes off as such.

I would temper it with other things. If someone is unemployed and gave me a used book, I wouldn’t think twice, if he was a CEO making 300K a year I’d think he was cheap. Again it’s not the gift but the “thought BEHIND the gift” that matters.

Now I rarely get gifts so I will take what I can get :slight_smile:

In general, yes, as does the stigma behind buying used (clothes, accessories, books, furniture). London charity shops have done quite a good job with it. For books, I like the idea of having a gift exchange that’s only used books, that you yourself have owned or that you’ve bought from a small used book shop or online. But everyone should be in on it (though you can often find ‘like new’ used books for quite cheap on Amazon). The trick to giving used clothes or jewelry is calling them ‘vintage’ or ‘antique.’

Many years ago, a coworker was getting married. Another coworker gave her a “tree” with coffee mugs hanging from the branches. That would have been nice, except that the mugs hadn’t even been washed. they still had dried coffee rings in them.

Every time I hear about a used gift, I think of those mugs.

That couldn’t have been a real gift, could it? Please tell me it was a joke.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you picking up a used copy of this book to give to your neighbor, BUT if this gift-giving occasion is one for which a 10+ new gift is appropriate, it's not an occasion for which a .01 used book is appropriate. I think somewhere implicit in the wife’s answer was that “something about the cost of a book” is what he’s expecting. If that expectation is violated 1000-fold, it’s tacky. At one cent, it’s probably more of a “hey, I thought you might get a kick out of this” than a special occasion gift.

It might be OK if he is really hardcore about his carbon footprint.

Gifts requiring investments of time rather than money are on sort of a sliding scale, I think.

Would you take your copy of “any of his other books,” gift-wrap it and give it to your friend? Of the situation was reverted and you were the birthday boy, would you be as delighted to receive his gift-wrapped, slightly dog-eared copy with occasional pencil notes in the margin(1) as to get a brand-new copy?

If your answer is yes to both, go ahead and buy the used copy.

In my case, receiving pirated copies of three CDs wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I made the wishlist; that’s even before realizing that they had been badly pirated. OTOH, being offered my brother’s CD-versions of records I own in vynil, to rip to my computer (which is fine per Spanish judges take on copyright law and the notion of “making people pay several times for the same song”) but as a “I thought you’d like this” and not as a birthday gift was very thoughtful.

1: I’ve never gotten that from Amazon’s “buy used,” but I’ve gotten it from other sources. Oh, and if I catch whomever wrote all over the university’s copies of Translation Science journals, I’ll hang her up to dry.

If someone close to me (family, boyfriend) gave me used books, I wouldn’t care, especially because I know them and they’d only do it so they could get me MORE books. I used to always buy used books for myself; books are kind of expensive. If you can get someone a book for a penny, get them more used books too or another gift maybe. It’d be awesome if I was expecting one book from someone, then they give me like 4 and tell me “I was able to get all these books you wanted used for a great price.” As long as they are only gently used though. I wouldn’t give anyone some crusty, ripped up copy unless it was really the only one available.

I’d prefer to get used products (electronics & books). That is why I have trouble asking for things for christmas. The things I want (books and electronics) can cost 2-4x less if I buy them used than if someone buys them new. I’d rather ask for money and go buy the used products myself on craigslist or

I don’t know if that is a common attitude though, but I’d prefer if someone bought me a used copy of a book I wanted rather than a new one (assuming the used one saved them a decent amount).

Tangential, but a friend once gave me a wrapped-up stack of trashy paperbacks I knew she had bought through a club and not paid a lot for. She knew I knew, that wasn’t the point and I wasn’t offended. However, when I was done with them I tossed them since they were trashy and there is a glut of those. She later asked what I had done with them ? like she was going to pass them on. Um, they were a gift and I didn’t realize I had to give them back??!

Was the books being used an indication that the gift was really a loan? :confused:

That just reminds me of a time, years ago, when I went to a friend’s birthday party, and bought him a cd from a band he liked (and had specifically said was one of several he didn’t have). Another one of the guests brought every album that band had, pirated and burned. Way to go, dude. Not just cheap, but making anyone else who actually bought a cd have an essentially wasted gift.

That said, I’m quite happy to receive used things as gifts, if it’s something like a book or a DVD where the used item is just as good as the new one. In fact, I feel guilty when I receive something new that I know I could have bought used for very little. It’s like I’m inspiring people to be wasteful.

To answer the question in the title, hell yes! I mean, you shouldn’t be giving someone coffee mugs with coffee rings still in them, but there is about a billion tons of stuff that could make a nice gift for someone thrown away every year.

One of my favourite shopping sites is - I love looking for cool stuff that someone else is trying to get rid of. :slight_smile:

It’s not a stigma in our family at all, in fact we all do it. We also prefer getting and giving lots and lots of gifts, and buying used allows that. There is a very good thrift shop near us which is a good source, and we’ve given our daughter a series of mysteries she wanted which is out of print, but which we could get from Recycled in San Jose. I do jigsaw puzzles compulsively, so I’d rather get 5 for 99 cents each than one for $15.
Part of Christmas is each of us bragging how cheap something was after it has been oohed and aahed over.

We’ve never had quality problems with any of this. And we give new things too, of course.

Truthfully, I don’t want to recieve a used item as a significant gift. And if you bought me something off the clearance rack, I don’t want to know that either.

Vintage or antique is different.

Permit me the fantasy that I’m worth full price for a new item.

I’ve seldom been given handmade stuff, but frequently give such items, usually with an understanding that my time made up for any lack in the amount I spent.

My family and I do it with each other all the time. We prefer it b/c it is much cheaper and it just feels better than buying new ‘stuff’ just to have new.

With nonfamily members that are close friends that know I shop resales shops, Woodgills and Sally Army, and HalfPrice books, I’ll usually check first with them. “Hey, if I see something that I think you would like…” So far the responses have been “Absolutely!! In fact if you see “X”, pick up for me and I’ll repay you!”

I’m with you. In general, I’d prefer a good quality used item to a new, equally priced but lower quality one. Even books - a lot of the books I covet are out of print, or just plain big and pricey, so I’m totally okay with used. Especially if it’s a hardcover - I’d rather have a used hardcover than a new paperback any day.

I think used gifts are fine IF the people in the exchange already know and are fine. One year when many people in my relatively near family were having tight finances we did a ‘pick a name from the hat’ thing AND set a hard price limit of $10.

The thing was, we all knew and agreed on this. Some of the presents were the usual kind of things you can buy for that much – box of cheap chocolates, a paperback book, a tree ornament. Others were home made. Plenty were used.

I had drawn one of my uncles who liked westerns. I happened on a garage sale where someone was selling books for .50. I sorted out all the western I could find, 32, and offered the $10 for the lot. Uncle was delighted.

But new calgary is so much better than used calgary.

I’m ok with used books too especially if it’s a hardback. i have bought used dvds from Amazon and a pawnshop. Mostly i’m just happy to be getting a gift.

For me it only depends on how functional the gift is. I mean, I think my main gift was always used as child, because what I wanted was expensive.