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If it’s worth buying, it’s worth buying used!

Any other bibliophiles out there shocked by the price of hardcovers?

I love to read and I have to fight the urge to accumulate books, but I don’t think a new hardcover is worth 20-odd dollars! Am I horribly cheap?

My policy with books has always been that if it’s worth buying, it’s worth buying used. It’s a strange philosophy, but I think it works out pretty well. There are some people, like my grandfather, who put a lot of value on buying new books.

Maybe they don’t want to wait to read them. Maybe they’ve had bad experiences with highlighting and underlining in books. Maybe they don’t frequent libraries.

I’m not sure of their reasons, but these people seem more than willing to sell the book a while later on Amazon at a nicely reduced price. I buy almost all my books there or in used bookstores. In fact, I even make a note on my Christmas list not to bother buying me new books.

Do you see an advantage to buying books new? Perhaps you want to support an author? You like that new book smell? Do new books have a smell? (I love the old book smell…)

I just can’t get my head around the idea that it’d be worth my while to buy a book new when it’s available (or soon will be) used.

photo by ButterflySha

{ 2 trackbacks }

Weekly Roundup #9 (December 22, 2007) - My Investing Blog
December 22, 2007 at 8:02 am
Wishlist comes true! I get to buy some books. | Mrs. Micah: Finance for a Freelance Life
January 14, 2008 at 2:30 pm


Christine December 16, 2007 at 10:34 pm

Mmm, I love the old book smell too.

I buy a lot of books used (and sometimes pick other ones up for free) and one of the best things about that for me is looking for written notes in the margins, title pages, etc. Highlighting I have trouble with, but notes are great. I’ve found things that argue with the author, love letters, notes to self… all sorts of things.

And yes, it is ridiculous how some books get their prices marked up, especially the “trade paperbacks” that go for $15 or $20. I’m not paying that for a paperback! I’ll wait a few months and then get it for $4 at my local used-book store.

mrsmicah December 16, 2007 at 10:43 pm

Worst notes in book ever: Jane Eyre. “Lightning destroys carriage” written in marker—right next to the passage where the lightning, in fact, destroys the noble old chestnut.

One wonders whether the book’s previous owner passed the class….

RacerX December 16, 2007 at 10:43 pm

Used books are the best. You sometimes find neat treasures as well. I have been able to find 1st or 2nd Editions at Flea Markets or Trade Stores. In additon some cool older leather covered books. Alas ebay is killing these finds though…:(

On books that are a bit more timely like, business books, I have 4-5 friends that like them too. So we trade. so it is the equivilant of getting all five for the price of one!

E.C. December 16, 2007 at 10:54 pm

The smell of a used book store is one of life’s great sensual pleasures. In addition to a great local store that’s fabulous for browsing, I’ve learned to love for connecting me with almost any used book I desire.

Ricardo Bueno December 16, 2007 at 11:08 pm

I think I’m more like your grandfather! Lol.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying used books! But if it’s a book that I’m dying to read and I know I will probably reference at some point in the future…I’m going for that new hard-cover copy! I can make the notes that “I” want to make and I guess have this weird thing about certain things being neat; in this case I hate when the corner of a book or piece of paper gets bent (I know…weird right?).

Anyway, at this point I think it’s safe to say that I’m Barnes & Noble’s favorite customer!

Funny thing is, while I was an undergrad. at UCLA, I started my own online book business. We were selling used books earning 15% margins while selling them a 10% – 15% less than the used book store. We were making good money and I wasn’t so picky then. If only I’d kept the business goin’.

Anyway, nice to meet ya Mrs. Micah!
Read you later!

SavingDiva December 17, 2007 at 10:17 am

I love buying used books! They look so broken in and well loved!

Laura December 17, 2007 at 11:07 am

I love to read and for a while it was a burden on my budget. I get my books for used and new. I won’t pay more than $5 for a book (not counting shipping). Most books i have bought have been new or like new and the average price I paid with shipping is $6.75, including several hardcover books.

I love the site and reccomend the wishlist feature. It emails me when the books I want get into my range.

Becky December 17, 2007 at 12:45 pm

I also love used books…and the library. I’ve collected a lot of hardcover copies of classic novels by keeping an eye out at Goodwill and the like. If they have a dustcover, I usually remove it! I think it looks prettier on my bookshelf without the dustcover 🙂

Bouncing Betty December 17, 2007 at 2:35 pm

I buy almost all my books from, E-bay or Amazon. I’ve gotten some really good deals on I also turn around and re-sell my books on so someone else can enjoy them.

Early Retirement Extreme December 17, 2007 at 6:03 pm

I do the same (even with making small notes to get it used on my wish list). The only reason to get it new is if the used price plus the amazon shipping fee exceeds the price of the new edition which usually has free shipping if it’s over $20.

Alexandra December 17, 2007 at 9:54 pm

I am not immune to the charms of a used book. But I don’t pride myself on not paying for a new one. I DO think it is valid to buy books–and magazines and newspapers–to support writers. It is strange how almost every environmental and money saving tip list involves cutting down on magazine subscriptions and going to the library instead of buying books. Yes, books use paper. But there’s a huge amount of paper in the packaging most people bring home, in the toilet paper they use, in the printouts they make at their so called paperless offices at work. Books are the least of our paper problems. Authors toil for years to create books. If no one buys new ones, how will they ever be paid anything that will help buy them the time to create new ones to delight and enchant us? It seems to me that true booklovers should rush to buy new books, particularly of authors they value and admire, and consider it a form of artistic tithing. That’s what shows real respect for the gifts that authors bring us.

Andamom December 17, 2007 at 11:15 pm

Personally, I wish that our library was open longer hours and was better stocked. I’m not a fan of buying books because unless it is a reference book that contains information that I will look at multiple times, I don’t see the point. Generally, I think that it is ecological waste that causes clutter to buy most books. However, I read to my son every night – and hard back books that we read this way last. When we’re done- if the books have held up well -I will pass the books on to another parent.

Rachel December 18, 2007 at 2:26 pm

That’s funny, I posed a blog earlier today about textbooks and how I used to always buy them new and now buy them used.

My technique is usually to either get the book from the library or buy it used (mostly at book sales for the library, where paperbacks are 25 cents and hardbacks 50 cents to a dollar) and if it ends up being one of my FAVORITE authors (I have perhaps half a dozen in this category) I tend to buy their books brand-new. For two of them, who are fantasy authors, I cannot wait for the library to finally have it available or for it to hit reasonable prices in the used market — I must have it at 12:01 the day it goes on sale. Other than that, I love to buy used. We finally have a used bookstore in our town, and while it’s small, it does have some selection. And I buy my textbooks online through or another used seller.

FourPillars December 18, 2007 at 10:44 pm

I do the library all the way!


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