Musings From A Bookmammal

U is for USED BOOKS–The April A-Z Challenge/Day 21


UWelcome to Day #21 of the April A to Z Challenge, where participants are challenged to create a post every day (except Sundays) corresponding to the appropriate letter of the alphabet. If you’d like to learn more, hit the badge on my sidebar.

I’ll be posting about bookish topics each day of the challenge. Here’s today’s post about used books:

stack of booksI buy A LOT of books—mostly physical books rather than eBook versions. My budget doesn’t allow me to purchase new hardcovers too often—I usually only do so if there’s a new book out by one of my very favorite authors, or if I JUST CAN’T WAIT and want to treat myself to a newly released title.

Most of the time I buy used books so I can stretch my book budget as far as possible. I’m picky about the condition—I don’t want books have dirty covers or torn dustjackets, ripped pages, or a lot of highlighting or writing inside.  I’ve found that if you’re willing to do some hunting, you can save a lot of money by purchasing used books that often are in nearly new condition.

I’m a huge fan of the online site abebooks,  which is a sort of online clearinghouse for thousands of used bookstores all over the US and Europe. Abebooks makes it incredibly easy to compare the prices and conditions of just about any title you can think of—even out of print books. Lots of the stores even offer free shipping. I’ll often wait until a book I want to own comes out in paperback—then I’ll go online and can usually find a nice used hardcover copy for much less than the price of a new paperback. You can also link directly to abebooks from your Goodreads account and hunt for books from your virtual bookshelves. (Beware—this is dangerous!) Granted, you take a risk when you buy used books online, but I’ve only been disappointed a couple of times over the ten years or so that I’ve been an abebooks customer.

There are also a couple of brick-and-mortar used books stores in my area that I visit every now and then—it’s fun to browse through the shelves because you never know what you’ll find! I usually take a bag of books that I’ve weeded from my bookcases to sell, but I almost always end up using whatever money I get to purchase a few “new” used titles.

How about you? If you buy physical books, do you ever purchase used copies, or do you prefer new editions? Please share!

Author: bookmammal

I love books, reading, writing, cooking, eating, reading while eating, and sharing thoughts about all of the above–plus a bit more! I usually post about topics relating to books and literacy during the week, and then participate in a variety of non-bookish memes on the weekend. Please feel free to join in! Some random things about me– –I have multiple bookshelves in every room of my home except the bathroom. They’re all filled to bursting. They help to make my house my home. –I have two cats who I love dearly, but who I definitely do NOT dress in human clothing. Ever. –I’ve never had a cavity. –I make a mean spaghetti sauce. –I’m a newcomer to yoga and I love it. –My day is not complete without a little chocolate.

20 thoughts on “U is for USED BOOKS–The April A-Z Challenge/Day 21

  1. I usually buy new, but I have this weird no-more-than-$20 rule. I sort of arbitrarily decided that’s the most I’ll spend on a book. When I shop for used books, I never go with a list, it’s sort of just what i find. The book I’m currently reading I picked up for $2 at a scouts sale, and a few more I got for $1-$2 at a charity book fest. I’ve never heard of abe books but I’ll definitely check it out. I don’t mind old, tattered books. It shows me they’ve been well read- which is a good recommendation in itself.

    • Those library/charity sales are filled with temptations . . . 🙂
      Like you, when I go to an actual used book store I just browse–I don’t really try to find anything specific. I’ve found some wonderful books that way!

  2. Great topic for the letter ‘U’ 🙂 I actually don’t own any books, and instead use my local library for all of the books I read.

  3. I do everything. I buy books in bookstores, and from Amazon, and also from second-hand bookstores and jumble sales etc. but I try to buy as many as I can from bookstores, and of those, as many as i can from indie bookstores. Plus I use the library.

    Let’s face it, buying second-hand is all very well and increases the number you can enjoy, but it will eventually decrease the number to buy, because authors get no money if you buy their book second hand. *imagines authors all dying with their legs in the air*
    Good topic!


    • I think our buying/reading habits are very similar–I buy from all those places plus the library.
      You make a good point about used books and authors–but I suppose it’s true of libraries as well–the more we borrow library books, the less copies of books are sold. (You left me with a very comical image in my head!!)

  4. is a good place for used books, too. It’s usually the first place I visit when pricing used books – amazon, abebooks and a couple others, too.

  5. I love used books. They seem more special knowing someone else has read them. We travelled all over the state in our RV collecting a trading books at campsites. I’m now in the process of reading the ones that are left and repurposing them. I could never ever throw a book away. Could you?

  6. I usually buy new ones since we don’t have much second hand book shops selling good books. But if I come across one, I definitely buy 🙂

  7. I hate living in a town with no bookstores. Luckily we have a phenomenal library, but I miss bookstores (and actually went on a road trip just to go to the Barnes & Noble which is 4 hours south of here).

    • I would totally go on a road trip to visit a bookstore! I try to visit at least one bookstore everytime I travel, but I would completely be up for taking a trip with the sole purpose of hunting for books!
      That would be rough to not have a bookstore nearby, but at least you do have a great library.

  8. Every few months I suddenly remember that libraries have sales. Usually it’s after I’ve spent way too much money on new books – my bad. A few weeks ago I grabbed 11 book for around $10 from a local library. I felt like I was stealing! I’m not too picky about the condition. Many of the very beat up ones are about 50 cents, which is just fine my me!

    Great topic for U!

    • Those library sales are so dangerous! There’s a big annual one coming up in my area in about a month–I actually arrange to leave work a little early on the first day so I can have the best selection!

  9. Oh I love my used books. I mainly shop locally for them these days since you can see their condition right out. Goodwill and other thrift shops are excellent for it and usually they’re 50-75 cents for paper and a buck for hard copies. Cannot beat that! Our library does an annual sale that I’m a total pig at. The last day they do a box sale where you pay 5 bucks and can fill the box. This last year.. over 180 books for 15 dollars. Was just amazing. And so many of them pretty much brand new (some actually right out of the boxes from the publishers or signed!).

    Happy A to Z-ing!
    herding cats & burning soup.

    • Oh, you have to love those library sales! The one in my town does the $5 bag thing on the last day, too–so dangerous!!! (180 books in 3 bags? That’s pretty amazing!)

  10. I have a mixture of new and used books and go to a bi-annual sale that raises money for guide dogs for the blind! I do like to pick the cleanest copy available though.

    • I do the same–I buy so many used books, but I try to find the best condition possible. So often, if you’re patient, you can find an almost-new copy of a used books for much less than half the price! That being said, I do like finding an unexpected bit of writing in a used book-sometimes it’s like finding an unexpected mysterious treasure!

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