Tagged: old books

The art of shopping for used books

By Alexandra Diantgikis, Staff Writer

Books have more than one story to tell/ PHOTO BY Hilary Ribons

Books have more than one story to tell/ PHOTO BY Hilary Ribons

When you’re in a literature course that requires twelve books, a trip to the used bookstore is a must. Not only will it save you a bundle, but also I personally find it to be a great adventure.

Wandering through a bookstore and browsing the shelves is enough to put any avid reader in a good mood, but when the books are nearly seventy percent off, book collectors of all kinds are ecstatic.

There are no restrictions. There is no guilt in purchasing eight books when you’re currently reading three and have a small mountain of unread books back at home. There is a certainty that this sentence will be uttered if not to anyone but yourself: “They are all so cheap!”

I say go for it. Indulge. You can never have too many books. But there is some strategy to finding the right ones.

If I’m browsing through the shelves and happen across a book I’ve wanted, I usually grab the one that looks to be in the best condition. Despite the fact many used books contain marginal writing, dog-eared pages, and underlining, I welcome those charismatic touches. I feel it gives the book character.

You can tell how many people owned the book before you, what they thought at certain times, and what kind of life the book has had. Sometimes comments are insightful and make you consider the text in a way you hadn’t before. Sometimes they are absolute rubbish and you get to argue with the commenter. But you enter a kind of discourse with the book’s past owners – a weird sort of book club.

Used books have this other element that a new book can’t compete with. They have a past and story to tell other than just the text on the page.