I Love Used Books

It should probably come as no surprise to y’all that I like used books. If it does, then I probably haven’t been very clear that I like reading books in general. It’s one of my favorite activities. There are few pleasures in life that are equal to reading a good book. And the best books are the kind you can read again and again and learn something new from them each time, whether fiction or nonfiction.

Used books are different from new books, though. For one, they are usually much cheaper. It’s not uncommon to see used books that might have once cost ten dollars on sale for only a dollar or two, sometimes even less than that. Thus, it is possible for even a poor person to create a substantial personal library on used books alone.

A problem, though, is that used books are often in poorer condition than new books. The cover might be wrecked, the pages might be yellowed, and there may be stains on some pages, among other problems. Most don’t look as good as a new book.

Thankfully, most used books are still readable, however they might look. I actually like used books that actually look used. It tells me that whoever originally owned the book must have loved it very much. It is especially interesting to read the notes in the margins or see the highlighted sections. Usually I don’t understand why they may have highlighted this particular passage or what these notes mean, but nonetheless they give me a rather personal glimpse into the mind of a fellow reader, one I might never have gotten otherwise.

This, I think, is the biggest problem with ebooks. There is no such thing as a “used” ebook. You could buy a used Kindle or other ereader, perhaps, but not used versions of the ebooks themselves. It’s not a huge problem, however, because ultimately what matters is the book’s content, not who owned it or who wrote notes in it or who highlighted specific passages or anything like that.

What do you think about used books? Like them, dislike them, or don’t care? Do you consider the inability to get used ebooks a plus or minus or something that doesn’t matter?



3 thoughts on “I Love Used Books

  1. I feel the same way. Ebooks are sterile. The words are there, but something is missing. I like the smell of new books. Still, they lack something. Used books with battered covers, creased spines and yellowing pages have a character and life of their own. There are others like it, but it has passed through the hands of a specific real person or persons who read it and connected with it. It’s almost like it has its own spiritual essence, and it makes the words seem more important.

    It’s the same with a new house or a new leather jacket; they need time to establish a unique identity. Sadly, an ebook is an ebook is an ebook. So it’s always going to be a bit boring, even if it’s brilliant.


  2. Pingback: Top Five Most Popular Posts on this Blog | Timothy L. Cerepaka's Blog

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