Used Books

Used Vs. New Books — The Showdown

Here’s the thing about books, there’s a never-ending supply of them. With new books coming out each and every day, you could get a new book a day for the rest of your life if you wanted. But there’s also an unending supply of used books, which to me, are much more interesting.


So I thought, why not break down why I like buying used (typically paperbacks) vs. new. I might change my own mind by the end of this.


Here are five reasons why I prefer used.


1. Notes in the margins tell a story of their own. 


Have you ever bought a used book to discover notes written in the margins? I know you have. Whether you love or hate people that take notes in books, it’s safe to say that the notes themselves are more often than not, extraordinarily interesting. Between highlighted passages, asterisks, discussion notes, previous owners add a little bit of their own soul into the book, and that fascinates me to no end.


2. They’re cheap! 


Ask me about my love for Half Price Books or Quarter Price Books. Seriously, ask me. Whenever I lose, or give away and am never returned, copies of my favorite books, I always check out Half Price Books for replacements. Picking up copies of favorites for less than $5 is a pleasure, and walking into Quarter Price Books to check out their incredible selection of a variety of genres. New books, especially hardcovers, can run you a pretty penny, but previously-owned-and-loved books cost a fraction, so you can pick up four, five, or six paperbacks for the cost of one new hardcover book. Sounds good to me!


3. Sometimes they’re even free!


Disclaimer: If you live in a city that has a problem with bedbugs, I would not recommend picking books up from the side of the road, or from a stack of furniture in front of an apartment.


However, if that does not apply to you, you can discover worlds you would never have imagined by giving a home to a lost book. I once found a copy of The Sunborn on a beach in Cozumel, Mexico. I was fourteen, couldn’t find its owner, or whatever, and pocketed the sci-fi novel. Read it in our hotel room when I was too sunburned to be on the beach. It’s become one of my favorite sci-fi reads, and I never would have found it had it not been carelessly discarded in the sand.


4. Books are meant to be shared.


I like to imagine that none of us really own books. We just borrow them, renting our time with them, until we pass them on to a new owner. It’s almost like fostering animals. You give them love, treat them well, and then when it’s time to move on, you give them to a good home and wish them the best. 


5. Used books are already broken in!


One of my least-favorite book-related tragedies is when I finally broke in my copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Rant, then lent it to someone who never gave it back. It was perfectly broken in, and I mean, perfectly


“Oh, you can just buy a new one!”


Yeah, I could, but my bitterness over my lost child has prevented me from doing so. Breaking in a book takes time, a delicate touch, and love. It’s a commitment, and when I find a used book that I’ve been searching for that’s perfectly broken in, I internally rejoice, because the hard work’s already been done, and by someone that loved it.


And here are five reasons why I prefer new.


1. It’s a new release, duh!


I'm a Mouse, Duh

Gif via Tumblr


You can’t buy a used copy of a new book. I mean, you could, but why? You’d miss out on that crisp, beautiful, fresh off the press book smell. 


2. I’m collecting an entire series. 


Here’s an example that will prove the above two points, for me at least: the day each Harry Potter novel was released was like an extra Christmas. My mother “surprised” us with one copy, only one copy for my older sister and I, and as the younger child, I would have to wait. Luckily, my sister read quickly. For the first few books, we had paperbacks. Once it became clear that the series was a hit, with the story, and the artwork, and the book covers, and the books themselves, the brand spankin’ new hardcover was the only way to go. Those really are beautifully done, which we appreciated, as children with respect for book covers.


When you collect a series, you’re bound to show it off. As such, you gotta go new.


3. When I inevitably walk into a Barnes and Noble and fall in love with a cover or a back cover synopsis.


It happens to us all.


4. New Book Smell.


I kind of mentioned this above, but it deserves its own point.


5. When I’m at a book release and I can get that sucker signed.


The last couple books I’ve gotten have been from book releases (because books are constantly coming out, and because I’ve put myself on an Amazon no-buy until I cut down my stack of books I still need to read), so you’ve got to get a book if you want to get it signed! And let’s be real, we all want to get the book signed. That’s cool! It’s memorable, unique, and all your own! (Side point to used books: you get to read other people’s inscriptions!)


And the results are in!


Used books, it’s used books. I love used books. Don’t get me wrong, I love new books too, but for me, used takes the cake. I’m sure you were all shocked.


Featured Image via Eagle Harbor Book Co.