What Should I Consider When Buying Secondhand Books?

Article Details
  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 December 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

Secondhand books are a great way to build a library without incurring a great deal of expense. In addition to the cost savings, choosing to purchase books that are previously owned opens the door to finding rare or collectible books that are no longer in print. Owning these books can also help minimize the necessity of borrowing or renting books each time you require something to read.

One of the most important aspects of buying secondhand books is to know what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend. Knowing what you want will allow you to focus on retail and other sources that are likely to carry the type of book you crave. At the same time, knowing what you can reasonably afford to spend for the book will also help you narrow your options, making it possible to spend more time with sources that are highly likely to have what you want.

There are a number of venues to explore when buying secondhand books. For general entertainment, visiting a thrift store can yield some exciting and extremely inexpensive finds. One advantage to the thrift store is that many of these establishments take the time to organize the books by subject or author. This can make your search much easier if you have a specific book in mind.


An alternative to thrift shops is the yard sale. While the selection will not be as large, there is great potential for coming across a treasure at a great price. People normally hold yard sales as a way of clearing the home of items that are no longer wanted. This means that you can probably do some negotiating and buy any book you want for even less than the posted price.

For specialty books, such as school or college texts, it is often a good idea to visit an off-campus collegiate bookstore. They will have secondhand books in various conditions, making it possible to purchase the books you need for a fraction of the original price. Make sure to check with instructors so you know what edition of a given text you need before making a purchase, as many of these stores will not allow returns or exchanges.

Estate sales can yield some interesting collectible and rare books. While some of the secondhand books may cost a little more in this venue, they are much more likely to have been maintained in near perfect condition. As you browse through the books available, it is not outside the realm of possibility to come across a first edition and obtain it at a good price.

Don’t overlook the local library as a potential source for good quality secondhand books. While most people associate the library with borrowing books rather than buying them, it is not unusual for many libraries to sell off books that see little to no activity. As with the yard sales, the main goal is to clear needed space while still making a little money from the effort. A book sale of this type will probably not be quite as inexpensive as a yard sale, but there is a good chance the books will be cheaper than at a thrift shop.

Finding secondhand books to buy and enjoy is a great way to build up your home library for very little money. Take some time on a Saturday afternoon and see what you can find. You may be pleasantly surprised at how easy it can be to find books you want to own.



Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?