How to Buy Used Books

Used books are a great green alternative to new books

By Josh Peterson
Los Angeles, CA, USA


There has been some talk about the eco-friendliness of books. They are made of paper and that paper costs the lives of trees. I am not downplaying that ecological concern. However, books are comparatively useful when you look at some other things tragically made of paper: Party hats, Tiger Beat teen-heart-throb-fold-out posters, junk mail, calendars, baseball cards, confetti, invitations and a slew of other cultural junk that clogs our stores and homes.

Books are getting picked on unnecessarily. I will happily read magazines and newspapers online, but when I want a break from sitting at a computer, I usually pick up a un-electronic book. They are lightweight, require no batteries or outlets and are considerably more comfortable and portable. A laptop is awkward for beneath-tree reading. Laptops, unless they are solar-powered, have a time limit as to the duration that you can read.

We should be responsible in our book buying. That is true.

One of the best ways to do this is by purchasing used books. Here are some tips:

Shop for books at thrift stores. Books get dumped in these places by the ton. Sure you are going to have to sift through hundreds of discarded Mary Higgins Clark and Dean Koontz novels, but it's worth it to find some Steinbeck or Austen for under a dollar.

Don't buy the classics new. If you go to any large bookseller, you may see that they have a section of classic books all newly printed for only a few bucks. If the book was written over fifty years ago, and it is considered a classic, do not buy it new. You can find the classics available for pocket change in almost every used-book outlet.

Go to Garage sales. If you are not too choosy about what to read next, garage sales are a great place to find obscure and cheap used books. You will learn a lot about the host of the garage sale whether you want to or not. Feel free to make judgments but keep them to yourself.

The used book store is an obvious alternative to buying new books. Unlike garage sales and thrift stores, these places are likely to sort their books and have sections devoted to different genres. This means books will be a bit more expensive than those found in heaped piles.

Back to Orange County Used Books

  Site Map