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?

-Tim

Kindle MatchBook: Pretty sure we all saw this coming

I already tweeted about this, but I feel Amazon’s newest program is worth blogging about:

Amazon has rolled out its Kindle MatchBook, a new program that allows customers the option to purchase discounted Kindle Editions of print books that they have purchased new from Amazon. The eBook editions are sold as an add-on purchase. Most cost somewhere between free and $2.99.

I knew they were going to do this eventually. It was inevitable. They already give you the digital versions of songs if you buy the CD. With the popularity of ebooks on the rise, it was only a matter of time before they did something like this. And I approve of it (c’mon, Amazon, I know you were looking for the approval of an obscure blogger whose existence you probably weren’t even aware of. Don’t be bashful).

The only part I don’t like is that you will have to pay for some ebook editions. $2.99 isn’t much, true, and most will probably cost less than that, but it still seems like a rip-off to me. At least you don’t have to pay the same price for the ebook as the print edition.

What do you think? Good, bad, or meh?

-Tim