New or Used?

At the end of the day it shouldn’t matter. I’ve always said I don’t buy used books, and I’m not sure that’ll ever completely change. But working in a used bookstore has changed my position just a bit.

There are PLENTY of books in very good condition throughout the store. This fact has already done something for me. It’s pushed me to start reading new authors I haven’t read before. Four, to be exact. John Sandford. Stuart Woods. Robert Ludlum. Tom Clancy. Why these four? Because I’ve always known them, but never have I really looked into reading any of them. And I imagine I’ll be introduced to a number of new authors during my time at Half Price Books.

The point is that used books are slowly going to make their way onto my shelves here at home, something that had not been happening hardly at all until 2015.

Do you prefer new books over used? Or maybe vice-versa?


On this day in 2014 I published The Perks of Being a Writer.

 

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52 thoughts on “New or Used?

  1. Personally, I love used books. I tend to only buy new when I know I can’t wait for someone else to give it up. There is something connective about knowing that you are lingering over the exact same words that someone else did. But…you know…that’s just me.

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      • Connective. It connects me to another person. Have you ever met someone who liked the same television show you did? Or the same sports team? Or something else you held dear? There is a moment where you are like “Hey, that’s awesome that they like this too.” it connects you to someone else. I feel that way when I read a used book. Someone else, at some point, read these words too. It’s a little weird, I know that, but I like the feeling.

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      • And what about the agent? Or editor? The author? You’re talking about this connection between yourself and some random person who has nothing to do with the book, but nothing about the ones who do. How odd.

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      • The difference between the editor, the writer, the publicist or whomever else might have been involved with the books creation is that, for them, it’s a job. They may have emotional attachment, sure. But in the end it was a day of work.

        For the person who picked it up and read it before me…they were looking for the same escapism that I also sought.

        I hope that makes sense.

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      • Welp. All writing to all writers is just a job? I could find dozens upon dozens of people to dispute that.

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      • It seems like you are specifically nitpicking my comment because you don’t wholeheartedly agree. This is mildly confusing since you are adding words and connotations that weren’t there and you literally asked people for their opinion in your original post.

        I did say, after all, that they may have an emotional attachment. I never used the term ‘just’ a job. While no author I know would say it’s ‘just’ a job every one I know would agree that it is work.

        But I appreciate the time you took to understand someone else personal viewpoint on the matter of used books.

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  2. I love any books, whether new or used. I have always used my local library, or I buy second-hand books in charity shops. Now that I’m an author myself, I realise that, in borrowing a book off someone else, or in buying second-hand instead of new that I’m doing the author out of royalties. On the other hand, I couldn’t afford to buy all the books I want to read. It’s a difficult one really. On the other hand, if I find an author I like by buying a used one or borrowing, I will look to see if I can get others on my kindle. So, in effect, it ultimately leads me to actually buying a new book…

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    • The only way you’d be taking away a royalty is if that one, single book you were going to buy was returned to the publisher unsold. Or if you intended to buy on Kindle and didn’t. But last I checked retailers aren’t returning single copies of books.

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  3. Huh. I’ve heard the idea before (never buy used), and frankly, always thought it sounded a bit snobbish 😜 Haha.

    Growing up with my insatiable hunger for books –and until the last decade or so libraries were kind of a joke for anything recently published– there simply wasn’t enough funding to seriously consider buying new all the time. So going to a used book store was one of my favorite pastimes until half.com and Amazon got started. In fact, my first bonafide “new” book was when I started getting my own income and joined Science Fiction Book Club. (wow, this dates me, doesn’t it?) Even now, though, I rarely buy new unless 1) it’s a brand spanking new book by a favorite author that I figure I’m bound to like enough to want to add it to my collection permanently, or 2) I know I’m going to read it over and over (like The Night Angel series) until the spine cracks anyway so I might as well start out fresh. Sure, nice and new looks better on the shelf, but really, my library is for me and a select few trustworthy individuals. Why should I care if the shelf is pretty to look at so long as the books are still legible?

    I think a better debate question (at least from my point of view) would be: which do your prefer to buy in print, hardback or paperback? 😳😊

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    • I have no idea what the Science Fiction Book Club is. And I don’t buy books as authors write them. But my shelves are still filled with over 90% new. Most of the books read don’t even look opened. Anyway, if new or used doesn’t matter(like you say), then why would hardcover or paperback matter? All the same text.

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      • Haha. It’s all about personal preference. Not that new or used doesn’t matter, really, but that a person who always buys new just meant that person always had more money for books than I ever did. (Snobbish pot calling the kettle… no offense meant there.) I’d rather get two or three unknowns used than only one new. I’ve never been more disappointed with a book than when I’ve bought new and didn’t like it. Felt like a waste of my money. (by the way, pretty sure SFBC has been dead for close to 20 years now so not surprised you haven’t heard of them)

        To me, paperback or hardback is another thing entirely because it speaks to how long I expect to hold onto it, and possibly move it from city to city (though I’ve finally been in one place for years now). If I like something enough to want to keep it around, especially when I find myself in need of replacing an old paperback, I typically go for new hardcover. It used to be that I didn’t like reading hardcover (heavier so not as portable), but when paperback bindings fail so easily, I decided I value hardbacks after all. Gently read paperbacks can sometimes last a while, but in the end they are still just glued and glue doesn’t last as well as string-bound (in fact I just re-glued a paperback the other day that has only been read 3x!). To me, hardbacks are definitely worth the higher price. I’ve also noticed I’m more likely to prefer to buy them new because not everyone treats books very well and, though hardbacks can take a knocking, I’d rather know in advance I’ll have it in good condition for as long as I want it. Besides, like another commenter said, buying new supports the author and since in those cases I must like their work, I certainly want them to keep writing!

        So after all that… I don’t buy new if I’m not sure I’ll like it or keep it. If I do like it, I will buy new (even have two copies -used paperback and new hardcover- of some books I like). How about that? My initial reaction wasn’t quite accurate. You’ve made me think! 😆

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  4. I personally love new books, but there is a certain history to used books!
    Also it’s become an expensive business, new books, so for work, I get used books!

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  5. I tend to buy used books. One of my family’s favorite things is perusing through the books at yard sales, at thrift shops, and library sales. We don’t have any used book shops in my area anymore and it’s a real shame. I love the smell of of those shops. You never know who loved these books, who treasured the books, who hated it and tossed it away, unloved. I guess I’ve always sort of assumed books have souls, so yes, I do enjoy scooping up these orphans and giving them a home.

    I don’t turn away from new, however. Sometimes if I’m too impatient for a new release, I’ll get it new. Or if it’s a reference book with some additional material that i want to make sure it included, I’ll get it new. Otherwise, I’m happy with used. But then, I also buy used cars, used clothes, and used furniture. I even adopted other people’s children and dogs, so I’m just a big recycler. 😀

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  6. Until I went digital it was used book stores, yard sales, thrift shops…
    The price usually can’t be beat and when you’re on a tight budget that counts for a lot.
    Now my favorite place to look for books is Kobo.com, lol. Some of my favorite books I got for free from authors who were promoting their books.

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  7. I don’t care as long as I can put it on my bookshelf. 😊

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  8. i love buying used books. Not only are they cheaper, but they look really new. The ones in good conditions. Now, I do hate when ppl have written in used books. But, what I will buy new books as well. It really just depends on my budget at that time.

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  9. I love going to used books sales and gatherings, even if you don’t end up getting a book, you get a glimpse of what a great number of people has been reading, if i find a book that I like, that’s in good shape I would buy it used no problem!

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  10. I love used books if there is some writing on there from the previous person. I know weird. But when I hold the book and see that, I experience the person thoughts and perspectives on how they read and interpreted the same exact words I did in a different way. But my favorites are hand me downs for the same reason from above except this time I have a relationship with the person.

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  11. I work in a store that only sells new books, so I’ve become rather picky with my books. I prefer to buy new, but will buy used if it is a book that I am unable to get new, or if it is a unique version of a book. I particularly enjoy used versions of classics, because you can often find wonderful illustrated versions that aren’t available today. I bought an illustrated version of Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen last month that I am thrilled about.

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  12. I love both! For different reasons, I guess. I love getting a great deal on a used book. And while I prefer they be in very good condition, I’ve enjoyed many a read from books a little tattered. But there’s also something to be said for new books. I love the feel of their crisp pages and the fact that no one has owned it before me.
    I don’t know. I love them both. As long as I get to read, I’m pretty happy.

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  13. I go either way. With children’s books for my kid, I go for gently used. For myself, I’ll buy new if I can’t wait but I love finding strange old books at used bookstores. I used to work at this tiny used bookstore before I worked at a library, and it was such a different experience. At the bookstore, we tended to brush aside the Stuart Woods and the like (since we’d usually have 3 or 4 copies on the shelf already), and buy books that we haven’t seen before. But at the library, we’d usually recommend someone like Tom Clancy or Robert Ludlum.

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  14. I love both. I love going into a used book store and finding a book in good or relatively good condition. I also like the prices on used books. When you go to used book stores you may not also be looking for any particular book (like I do). I look at a category and end up happy with what I have found.

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  15. I have no problem with used books. After all, it is the words that we buy them for. If it’s a good condition book, it matters not to me. Even if it’s slightly worn out, if it looks like something I might like or is on my TBR, I’ll buy it. They all deserve love. They are little orphaned books in need of homes!

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  16. Happy with either as long as there’s no writing in the margins, highlighting, or coffee stains :-). Glad you are expanding your horizons!

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  17. Used. Pretty much Always used. Do you know how many Great used books there are in the world that you can get for cheap? Also, I bought ALL of my books for classes this fall from Half Price Books. I saved So much money! The new books just cost too damn expensive. But that’s just me.

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