Getting lost in a book store is some of the most fun you can have.
Most of us could spend hours wandering through the volumes and not realize the time. There is something for everyone. Party-folk find wild times, the love-sick find affection, and the sceptic finds the facts. Boredom is replaced by adrenaline and cynicism is replaced by wonder.
This can happen in any book store, but there’s an alternate dimension to used book stores.
Have you ever thought about the other people that have owned a used book before you did? Ever wondered why certain pages have a crease, or who the signature on the first page is from? Used book stores are full of lost treasures and hidden gems.
There are many practical and sentimental reasons to choose a used book store rather than a regular book store.
Used book smell is better than used car smell.
Nobody is hanging “used car smell” air fresheners from their rear-view mirrors. But the smell of used books seems to be catnip to some people.
There is history and character to used books that you don’t find in new books. Others have held this book before you. They’ve been emotionally attached or physically repulsed by the ink and paper in your hands.
How you react to the book will be added to the growing sphere of influence that these pages have had on people. You’re part of an elite.
We’re not talking about the story, but the physical volume you’re holding. Millions may have read the story from one of it’s other clones, but this one is unique. Only a few have read this very book in your hands. There is history.
Some of these past lives may have left marks, scars, or love notes from their time together. Each nick, crease, smudge, note, doodle, and scuff are clues to past encounters that only this volume has endured.
— Adele Stanfield (@adeletweets) August 5, 2015
You never know what you will find in a used book. Memories are kept in books. Pictures, post-it notes, and even money…
I just had that thing where you find a million dollhairs hiding in books you used to read. I HID MONEY IN BOOKS.
— ☆Scilla-hime☆ (@ScillAsylum) August 30, 2014
(her auto-correct failed her… “dollhairs” ^_^ )
Time passes differently in used book stores.
It’s easy to loose track of time whenever you’re around a collection of books, but used book stores seem to jack the comfort level WAY up.
The layout of some used book stores make exploration a thrill. The books are in stacks on the floor, or the shelves are arranged in a labyrinth. Others are designed to feel like home, with chairs or couches, lamps, bookends and rugs.
Old books seem to have a stronger comfort field as well. When a book is well handled, but still in good condition, you don’t feel so cautious about flipping through. Investigating further doesn’t have to be done with latex gloves so that your fingerprints don’t tarnish the shiny cover.
And yet, used books demand a different sort of care. The pages have informed others before you. There’s wisdom in the worn ink, not just in the story. That wisdom is evident and elicits respect.
Like having coffee with your Grandma, you don’t have to be careful around her, she’s seen and heard it all, but you do respect her, because she’s seen and heard it all.
You can relax. In regular book stores, the books scream for attention. Everything is placed for optimum exposure. Many hours of marketing and consumer research have gone into the layout. Your attention is at a premium and they are going to do everything they can to sap every last ounce of it.
Used books, on the other hand, are content. They’ve caught someone’s attention already. They don’t need to be seen by everyone. They can sit on the shelf until the right someone picks them up. A store full of content books makes exploring and browsing much more relaxing.
Plus, you never know when “Grandma’s” cat will want to cuddle up with you and your books:
— The River Trading Co (@rivertradingco) August 6, 2015
Walk in with the fist full of change, walk out with an arm full of books.
Used book store haul pic.twitter.com/SmPYDUxz2a
— Matt Bandstra (@battmandstra) June 28, 2013
When you can walk into a used book store with enough change for a coffee and walk out with a book, life is good. For a fraction of the price of one book, you can get whole anthologies or collections.
It’s all about the find. Many people walk into a used book store asking for specific titles. It’s great when they find what they’re looking for, but that’s a rare occasion.
What’s even more exciting is when someone walks up to the counter grinning from ear to ear. They didn’t expect to find this book. Maybe it’s one they’ve heard a lot about, or maybe it’s a lost favourite. Either way, the unexpected discoveries carry contagious joy, it’s hard not to smile with them.
If you find something new, you’re not risking $20 or $30 dollars. When you find intriguing titles in a regular book store, you’re not sure if you want to spend the money on it or not. There’s risk involved. With a used book, you’re risking $6 or $7 at most. It’s a lot easier to take a chance on a title you know nothing about.
The only place to find out of print books.
Really, once a book is out of print, the only place you will find it is a library or a used book store. You could find it on Amazon, but out of print books on Amazon tend to increase in price over time.
That’s not necessarily true in used book stores. Again, it’s hit or miss when looking for a specific title in a used book store. But it will make your day when you find an old book that’s been out of print for years and you never imagined running into it again.
Some reads are just better on paper.
eReaders, iPads, and laptops are great for reading with. They give you access to entire libraries and knowledge bases, but sometimes you crave the tactile experience of paper and ink.
Digital devices can mimic the motion of flipping pages (which can be a lot of fun to just play with), but physically turning pages proves progress and builds tangible achievement. Seeing the pages stack up on the left side of a bookmark gives you a winning sensation that is hard to find with an eReader or iPad.
What is your favourite used book experience?
Why do you buy used books? What is it about used book stores that you’ve fallen in love with?