Let’s Talk Bookish: Buying Secondhand Books

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. Today’s topic is Buying Secondhand Books.

Do you buy secondhand books? Why or why not? What are the benefits of buying secondhand? What are the cons of secondhand books? What do you recommend people do to better support secondhand bookstores?

It’s pretty rare that I buy secondhand books anymore, for the main reason that I curate my collection of physical copies very carefully. I typically buy only those books I really want and know that I would reread over and over for many years to come, so I like getting the best copy I can find. This means that I’m usually looking for a very particular hardcover or special edition which is unlikely to be found in secondhand bookstores. However, if that is not the case, I do buy secondhand books when I can find them.

Secondhand books have their advantages though. The big one that comes to mind is of course, saving on money because they tend to cost much less than a brand new book. This also means that you can buy more books on the same budget! There is also the possibility of stumbling across a rare gem or two, like vintage editions no longer in print. Browsing the shelves of a secondhand bookstore is almost an adventure of its own as you never know what book you might come across. I will forever coddle my books and never break the spine, but one final benefit I see in this, though it doesn’t apply to me, is that secondhand books are most likely already broken in, so you don’t have to be as careful when handling them.

On the downside however, a book in good condition is not always guaranteed when buying secondhand. It could have been poorly handled, with dog-eared, or worse, torn or missing pages (really, any number of horrific scenarios come to mind now that I think about it) and I certainly wouldn’t buy such a book for my shelves, especially because whatever books I buy, I intend to keep long term. Secondhand books could also have annotations in it from a previous owner (which is a huge no for me since I never write in my books), or perhaps be missing a dust jacket, some of which are pretty unique for certain editions. Stock is also limited, so it can be hard to find a copy if you’re looking for a specific book.

If there’s a secondhand bookstore you love to shop in, I feel that a good way to support them would be to spread the word other readers who may not be aware of it. Outside of some well known stores, there isn’t really a lot of publicity or marketing for them.

Do you buy secondhand books? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


11 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: Buying Secondhand Books

  1. Ranjana March 18, 2022 / 10:20 am

    I like buying secondhand books as long as they are in good condition, no pages are missing, and is not an abridged version. My best place to buy secondhand books before pandemic was the annual world book fair. In the midst of a jungle of branded books, there were few tiny stalls dedicated to secondhand books. I have browsed some amazing adventure, thriller, and romantic novels from these book stalls.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) March 20, 2022 / 8:48 pm

      The book fair sounds wonderful! I haven’t been to a major one in the longest time, but agreed, they’re excellent places to pick up some great reads! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jaya Avendel March 18, 2022 / 4:28 pm

    Loving that you are responsible and intentional about the books you buy new; I hear you on wanting those books you will reread again and again to come into your house new.

    I buy secondhand for the special editions! However, I also collect Star Trek novels across all the franchises and, to keep costs down, generally buy the mass paperback versions when I come across them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) March 20, 2022 / 8:50 pm

      That’s so interesting! I’ve never considered picking up special editions secondhand, but I’ll have to look into it! Completely agree on the mass paperback versions, I usually turn to those if I’m trying to collect any series longer than a trilogy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Crazy Bookworm March 19, 2022 / 1:45 am

    Most of my books are secondhand to be honest. I live in the Philippines. I am in the location that is not anywhere near the big cities so we have few physical books store and more online stores. It became worst with the pandemic with 2 stores closing down. I have learned to befriend the employees of the used bookstore I frequent so they save stuff for me in case I might want it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) March 20, 2022 / 9:35 pm

      Independent bookstores have certainly had a hard time during the pandemic. It’s great you have access to the books you want through the used bookstore though, they can be a valuable resource in such times! Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!


  4. Ramblings of a Nobody March 20, 2022 / 3:38 pm

    I do buy secondhand books but I can be quite picky about how my books look so tend to go for ones that aren’t too battered. I’m getting less precious about the condition of my books though.
    Second hand bookshops always end up making me buy way more books because they’re so much cheaper it feels easier to make the decision to buy.
    I love finding forgotten gems in secondhand bookshops. I’ve realised recently how quickly some books go out of print so it’s a great way of finding books you might not be able to get new anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) March 20, 2022 / 9:32 pm

      That’s such a good point about some books going out of print really quickly, secondhand bookstores would certainly be a great place to find them! Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!


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