This is probably the biggest and most obvious reason to buy books second-hand – the price difference. It could be the classic you’re needing for your English class for £1.99, or even a recent hardback release that’s hardly out of the shops (at this very shop I’ve once managed to pick up a pristine hardback copy of Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight three months after it was published for £5.99!). Especially if you’re an accomplished reader, buying books second-hand will make a huge difference to your wallet.
If you’re buying used books, no new resources have to be put into the production, such as the ink, paper, glue, and storage, meaning second-hand books have a much smaller carbon footprint. Also if, like a charity shop, the stock is entirely from donations, the books will have travelled a shorter distance to get there, rather than everything being shipped from a huge warehouse.
Finding notes in the margins.
This may be a controversial one as some people love to keep every book pristine, but sometimes finding an personal inscription or little note between the pages adds so much character to a book. It’s lovely to read why someone thought their friend would love that book as a Christmas present, or which passages meant a lot to the previous owner, or even realising someone has studied this novel for a class and jotted down some thoughts and impressions throughout a chapter.
The pressure is off to keep it pristine.
Again this may be a controversial one for people who love to keep their books neat, but with used books, generally the spine will already be cracked (unless it was unread or came from a particularly careful owner). This means that there’s no need to be quite as careful as you would with a brand new book – if some of the pages are a little foxed and there’s a few lines down the spine, you can throw it in your bag or prise it open without having that twinge of guilt.
Finding something new.
If you’re used to ordering books online or going into a physical bookshop, generally people go in with an idea of which books or authors they’re specifically looking for. Even if you just have a genre that you enjoy, generally in big bookshops the genre sections are huge, and you can end up browsing through the same sections and recent releases over and over. In a second-hand bookshop you have to really explore all of the titles they have to offer, meaning you’re more likely to find something you’ve never heard of whilst searching through the fiction section. The books can also be from any time period, not just recent releases or best sellers, meaning there will be stories you literally can’t find anywhere else.
It goes to a good cause.
In the case of charity shops like ours, money raised from the sale of used books goes towards hundreds of great things all over the world (to see what Oxfam does, there’s some more information here). Not only are you getting a bargain, you’re also helping to make the world a better place through your shopping habits.
Still not convinced to plump for second-hand books? You can always donate your old books to us, and here are some great reasons why.
You don’t even need to come into store to buy books from us, as you can find us on the Oxfam Online Store and AbeBooks as well.