My Thoughts // Why I Like Used Books

24 May 2016

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My Thoughts is a feature where I attempt to write bookish discussions. If you had spent any time with me in real life you would learn I have this habit of blurting out random thoughts from time to time when I allow my mind to wander. It’s from these random thoughts these posts emerge as I attempt to write some coherent thoughts about what’s been on my mind. I am trying to combine this with my attempts at participating in the Discussion Challenge this year.


I am becoming a big fan of used books. This came as quite a shock to me as I have been a complete Kindle reader for a long time. In the past couple of years, I have found my habits changing, though, and I am buying more and more physical books. Turns out buying physical books is an expensive habit and so I have slowly been trying to discover the best ways to save me some money. There are the usual websites where you can get cheap deals on new books (like The Works and The Book People) but they tend to only have a limited number of books and that’s for random buys, not for targeted buying. I needed ways to get access to more books I want.

It turns out used books are cheap and you can get them in so many different places. Why not benefit from other’s castoffs?

Why Do I Like Used Books?

They’re cheap. Let’s get right down to the simple truth of the matter. You will struggle to get a book cheaper than it’s used counterpart, especially when searching for a physical copy. It’s just hard to argue that point.

I’ve never cared much about the appearance of my books (my Harry Potter books have seen better days) so having books which are worn or a bit battered doesn’t bother me. Are they going to be the prettiest books on my shelf? No, but they will be well loved regardless. I mean, I am a former dogearer of pages so I cannot be too critical of a book's condition. As my brother said the other day, books are made to be read. Any book, or any paperback anyway, is going to show a bit of wear and tear after reading. You will bend the spine reading a book, you will scuff up the cover carrying it around with you. So what?

They are a cheaper option to some Kindle book prices and perfect for those books I want to read but am not dying to read. They are the option for when I can’t get a book from my local library but know I still want to read something. Ever since I was at university I have been a fan of used books. They are so cheap how could you not?

The downside to used books for me is the fact the majority of mine are bought online so I have no way of actually knowing what condition I will get them in. You can get a vague assessment of it being in ‘good, ‘very good’ or ‘like new’ condition but that is very much up to the individual to decide how used they like their books. It does bother me I can’t inspect my book before purchasing, it’s not like buying brand new where you expect it in pristine condition, it can come with a bent spine, dog eared pages, or underlining of things. It’s very hit and miss and they always have all their pages and all that good stuff, but I know some people or fussy about the outside too.

Where Are My Favourite Places to Get Them?

I will never convince you to buy used books if that’s not your thing, but for those who are interested I can tell you where I get my loot.
The most obvious one is used book shops. I know they aren’t everywhere, some people have one in their area but then others (like me) don’t. The next place outside of used bookstores are charity shops, of those I have an abundance. The thing with used book shops and charity shops is that the options are limited. You might get lucky and get a rare find but more often than not it will be copies of Gone Girl and things like that. Good to pop your head into but not a place to used as a reliable source.

If you’ve got nothing in your local area you will have to turn to my friends, the internet. I love the internet for shopping, I could spend thousands if I let myself.

The most obvious place to go for books? Amazon. I know some people have their issues with Amazon for books, but when it comes to used books your supplier could be anybody and the issues are completely irrelevant (I think) because Amazon isn’t using their same shady tactics.

Pros: Wide selection, lots of sellers, dead cheap, free delivery available, good deals
Cons: Some sellers are questionable, depends if you want to support Amazon doesn’t it?

World Of Books
One of my favourite sites to use to stock up on a few books at a time is World of Books. This is a website I found by accident when I bought a used book on eBay and discovered the seller had a whole website and were offering me a discount code. I now visit it often to see what’s available because it’s a really good used book site based in the UK (yay). This place has such a wide selection and a good 3 for 2 offer on a lot of books. I could browse for hours on there, it’s so interesting. I strongly recommend this site as the quality of the books is very high. I also love the fact they’re delivered by Royal Mail as I can collect them from my local delivery office if I’m not home.

Pros: Wide selection, good offers, high quality, free delivery, UK based
Cons: Slow delivery (it can take up to a week to arrive), some high prices at times

Better World Books
The final site, and a new discovery, is Better World Books. This is a site I’ve used only once and I did like it. There you get used library books and they tend to donate books to charity for the books you buy. You can feel good whilst getting yourself something nice. As they are used library books you tend to have the usual library stickers on the spine, they can come with the sticky plastic stuff on the cover as protection, with plastic book covers on them, and the usual library stickers inside. They are good library book condition but be aware they may stand out a bit on your shelf. Again, they do free delivery (worldwide) and they deliver via Royal Mail so I like them for that. Their used conditions are a tad more lenient I think, but they aren’t falling apart and they are a passable condition so I wouldn’t knock them for that. They also have a US site with a really wide selection and they do worldwide shipping too.

Pros: Both UK site and US so wider selection, free delivery, gives back to charity
Cons: More lenient in their conditions, can come with stickers on them,

There are other sites I’ve not tried. You could always try eBay (but I’m always a little wary) and there is also AbeBooks which is much like Amazon with various sellers selling through it. Really, all you have to do it look and there are plenty of places to get a good used book from.

Do you buy used books? If not, why not? Have you used any of the sites I’ve mentioned, or are there any more you wish to recommend?
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