Ever stroll into a new book store? Ever read the prices on these things? Thomas Piketty’s Capital is like $40, most paperbacks are like $20-30. Hey, I get it, publishing cost money, paper cost money, distribution, the authors’s time, whatever, it all costs money. But forget it, used books let you sidestep all that.
In some circles, buying used things is the ultimate confession to being poor. To be avoided at all cost. Other circles don’t really care if it’s used or not, perhaps they just care that it is in working order. Books shouldn’t carry that baggage though, this isn’t about a mustard stained T-shirt from the thrift shop, it’s about the ideas that books convey.
Used books are cheap: Used books in thrift shops often suffer from a lack of variety, but enough trawling and you can usually build up a robust library. Hell, where do you think I get all the books I review on this site? If you are looking for a very specific title, then it may be hard to get what you’re looking for. Actual used book stores, are more expensive than the couple dollar affair down at most thrift shops, but, they typically offer more variety.
Used books are often in good shape, but not all the time. But if you’re paying $1.00 for a book that retailed $30, I don’t mind some creases. Some people might find marginalia as offensive, I think it actually adds to the reading experience. It means that someone before you, in this very book took the time to read it and add their thoughts to it. I have a hard time reading a book without a pen or pencil in my hand to add my thoughts.
I was reading an introductory book to personal finance, I remember the first chapter had highlighted sentences. But it was only the first chapter, I kept thinking about how a middle aged person probably bought this book, read the first chapter, put it on the night stand for a couple months. It eventfully made it to the bookshelf and then to the donation box. Then it went to me, I finished what they couldn’t.
In short, used books are one of the greatest items for the thrift shopper.