Used books come in all shapes and sizes. Some are nearly new, while others have lived many lives, across the many owners who’ve seen them shelved. At some time in your reading life, you must have purchased a used book, and there are a number of reasons why…
- Cost Factor: New books have that new-book feel and smell; but they also are more expensive. When we purchase used books, we’re able to make our dollars stretch farther, while simultaneously ensuring that we can read (and re-read) our books.
- Recycle: It’s a great way to ensure that volumes live on, far beyond the initial read. After all, books deserve to be read more than one time; they can survive multiple readers, given care and proper handling.
- Out-of-Print: It’s not something we like to think about, but used books sometimes become the only way that we can read (and enjoy) those titles that are now out-of-print and impossible to procure as a “new” volume.
- Bookstore: There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of a used bookstore. The smell of old books combines with the sight: shelves of well-read volumes. It’s like every book lover’s paradise.
- Treasured Manuscripts: Used books also offer surprises. Beyond the out-of-print discoveries, long-lost manuscripts are uncovered in attics, basements, or amidst the masses of “regular” bookshelves. They’re just waiting to be discovered.
- Marginalia: We gain insight into how other readers (particularly famous writers) have responded to the text, by reviewing their notes, illustrations and other miscellany in the margins of books.
- Perfect for Sharing: When you’ve finished reading the book(s), it’s easy to pass it on to friends or acquaintances. Since your initial purchase was more reasonable in price, you may not feel as attached to the book.
- Reading Copies: As book geeks, we want to protect our cherished books. Sometimes the best way to do that is to own several copies of our favorite books — one for reading; one for collecting; and (perhaps) one for sharing.
- Compare Editions: For critical literary study, we need copies of the various editions for careful study (and even mark-up). We can sometimes find all the various editions all in one place, at a used bookstore (or via online used-book portals).
- College Book List: You’re required to read so many books on a daily (and weekly) basis that you’d be in serious danger of becoming flat broke if you weren’t able to purchase used copies of the textbooks and other reading-list requirements.
Used books sometimes get a bad reputation for being low quality, bad smelling or even unauthorized versions. After all, you could be buying “anything” when you purchase a used book. Amid the smoky, worn-out volumes, you’ll also find treasures.