Five reasons to buy books second hand

Do you buy most of your books new? For me there’s nothing quite like going into a bookstore and perusing the shelves for your latest read. The neatly organised shelves of bookstores make it easy to track down a specific book that you’re after. Pretty seasonal displays can call your attention to pick up a book you wouldn’t otherwise have considered. Curated lists of what to purchase that ‘bookworm’ in your life on Amazon or book depository makes gift-giving way easier! The classic new bookstore has a special place in my life, but so does the second-hand book buying experience. Maybe you’re an advocate of buying second-hand – maybe you’ve never really thought about it.

In this blog you’ll find five reasons to consider buying second-hand next time you get that urge to go book shopping (happens regularly for me).

1. Good for the planet

We all know reusing and recycling is better for our environment. Books use a lot of paper! While book publishing companies these days are making improvements to their practices with using sustainably sourced paper, the industry still isn’t perfect. Picking up a book second hand you can reduce the impact on the environment. Yes, you could go totally paperless, but for those of us who love a physical copy – second hand is better.

2. Good for the community

One of my favourite places to pick up second-hand books is at my local opportunity shop (thrift shop, or charity shop it might be called depending on where you’re from!). These stores do lots of good for the community. my favourite local is @TheMustardTree op-shop which offers counselling, food bank services and more for the vulnerable in the community. Purchasing your books at an op-shop you can support the great work of these places. No, the books might not be as organised as at your local Dymocks or Barnes and Noble but that leads me to my next point…

3. The Adventure

Second hand stores like op-shops typically do not have their books as well organised, or as large a range of books as at your commercial stores. Some may find this frustrating, but I find it adds to the adventure. It’s so satisfying to come across the next book in the series you’re reading for only a couple of bucks! Or a special edition of one of your favourite stories. I have picked up some beautiful copies of books, you can see the pictures below of an illustrated copy of Blinky Bill that I picked up. It’s like going on a treasure hunt buying second hand – you never know what you’ll find!

I picked up this lovely illustrated copy of Blink Bill recently from The Mustard Tree Op shop.

4. Affordability

Buying everything (including books) can get expensive! Purchasing second-hand books is a great way to save money and still support your reading habit. I know some people who give second-hand books as gifts, and while not everyone might approve of this practice, I think it’s great! While I admit sometimes second-hand books have not been gently used (anyone found children’s scribbles inside the front cover?) generally books are one of those things that age pretty well. You can generally find most books that you are after for just a few dollars, in good condition, if you have the patience to hunt for them. Try checking out your local op shop or a garage sale next time you’re feeling that urge to book shop.

My local op-shop The Mustard Tree has sales on their books regularly!

5. History

I personally love aged books. Old books smell different to new books (yes you’ve probably heard me rave about the smell of books before) there’s something musty and nice about them. Books tell us stories written in ink, but they have untold stories too. Stories they can’t tell. They can’t tell us all the nightstands they’ve graced. All the tears that have been spilled over them. All the bags they’ve ridden in or countries they’ve travelled. When I hold a second hand book I love to imagine these untold stories (granted the ones I make up are probably more exciting than the reality!).

I couldn’t resist sharing more pictures my Blinky Bill find – the illustrations are so charming. This find set me back $3, a bargain!

Thanks for reading! Do you buy books second hand? why or why not?Comment below! I’d love to hear from you. I hope you enjoyed seeing my Blinky Bill find. If you do shop second-hand what’s been your best book find?

You can find me here instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stephhuddlestonwriting/

*Special thanks to The Mustard Tree Op shop – you guys are awesome! Keep up the good work. If you want to see more of what they do, drop in store or follow them on facebook or instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/themustardtree/

Hi! I'm Steph, a freelance writer for hire based in Melbourne Australia. I'm an avid reader and love all things bookish! My blog is all about the written word.

8 thoughts on “Five reasons to buy books second hand

  1. Love your latest post Steph, have you heard of Brotherhood Books website by the Brotherhood of St Laurence. You can actually search up specific titles you are after secondhand. Not quite as adventurous I know but handy if you know what you are after. Our book club gift secondhand book to each other at Christmas too. Love the op shop life 😀

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    • Thanks for reading and commenting! I didn’t know the Brotherhood of St Laurence offered that service, how wonderful! Thanks for sharing the tip! I’ll have to check it out. 📖 ❤️

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  2. I love buying gently loved and used books! It’s fun to see what people are reading, and even though I don’t love when people write in books, sometimes it’s hilarious to see their notes and thoughts. I will say that these days I prefer the library just because I’ve been watching too much Marie Kondo. LOL! I decided to donate a ton of books. We were just in Riga, though, and I finally bought a NEW book just because that was the only bookstore that I could find. I really wanted a local Estonian author while in the Baltics–they are hard to get in the US libraries. I prefer used bookstores over new, though. Like you mention, it’s a great way to save money.

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    • Hi Christine! Thanks for reading and commenting. I must admit Marie Kondo has affected my bookshelf too, haha! I would love to visit Riga one day. Buying a book (new or second-hand!) is a wonderful idea for a souvenir from a trip! I tend to collect bookmarks from the places I travel – my favourite is a metal bookmark from a trip to Paris.

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  3. The adventure is so much fun, isn’t it? I once spent well over a year tracking down a set of books to complete a series I received from my nan and it was fabulous fun. That thrill when you spot one of your missing titles! It wouldn’t be as much fun if I’d just searched for them online.

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    • Thanks for reading Katie! I think having tracked all the titles down there’s a great sense of satisfaction when the series you’ve been searching for is completed at last.
      Happy second-hand adventuring!

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