Buying Secondhand Books

I have been wanting to spend a few hours in my local used book store, so this week’s Let’s Talk Bookish prompt is timed perfectly!

Do you buy secondhand books? Why or why not?

I do, for many reasons! I like to support independent bookstores when I can and my city has only two bookstores- an Indigo and a used bookstore, so my options are limited. That said, it is a pretty incredible used bookstore and I love spending an afternoon there. I love the experience of shopping for secondhand books- you never know what you are going to find and that is part of the fun for me!

What are the benefits of buying secondhand?

Something that I love is when I can find a hardcover of a book that is now only in paperback, especially if I am trying to find a match to a series! This happened to me in Talon from Julie Kagawa, and I am currently on the hunt for The Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel in hardcover. I love the serotonin I get when I find a book I have been looking for.

I often love finding books that have been thoughtfully annotated by the previous owner. It is so interesting to me to see what stood out to another reader versus what impacted me. It makes for a unique reading experience!

An obvious one, but the price!

What are the cons of secondhand books?

I think the positives of secondhand books could be seen as cons depending on your outlook. Not being able to find a book you are looking for can be frustrating and annotations can be meaningless or takeaway from the reading experience. For me, I go into a used bookstore knowing that my experience is going to be different than when I go to a place like Indigo or Barnes and Noble, and that is the fun of it!

I will say, the prices aren’t always that much better than what I can find online for a new copy, so I always make sure to look before I buy! You also won’t find a lot of new releases secondhand.

I also think the quality of secondhand books that you can find locally depends greatly on your community since they are the people donating/selling the books.

What do you recommend people do to better support secondhand bookstores?

I think just the obvious things- shop there, donate your books there, post about them on social media, follow their social media accounts, etc.

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17 thoughts on “Buying Secondhand Books

  1. I don’t mind buying secondhand books, but I’m also very picky about them. If they look damaged or have a weird smell to them, I don’t buy them. I basically only buy gently used books when I go shopping for secondhand books.

  2. There’s a secondhand book store in the next town over that I love. It’s run by a kind older man and he often has Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys books from the 1980s to the 2000s in stock. I look for books to add to my collection every time.

    I think a major con is that secondhand bookstores are often very cluttered and difficult to browse through. It adds to the charm, but I think it also leads to people spending less money as they can’t easily find what they want.

    1. I love those editions of of Nancy Drew. So much nostalgia!

      I agree. I think you to to a secondhand bookstore for a completely different experience than going to regular bookstore! I never go in expecting to find anything and am just happy when I do!

  3. I used to by secondhand books often, but now I read mostly ebooks and audiobooks and I don’t have much room for books in my house.

  4. The only secondhand copy I ever bought that turned out to be annotated was “The Little Prince” and I think it was only done, because it’s a French copy and the person wanted to highlight new to them vocabulary haha

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