10 tips for Buying Used Books

Books cost money. It’s a fact that we have all had to accept at some point in our reading lives. Just reading a book a week can add up to hundreds of pounds a year, and who wants to be limited to just one?

One of my favorite ways to keep my book budget low is to buy second hand books. I love to rummage through dusty boxes and shelves to uncover gems, and over the years I really have found some lovely deals. (Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies Series, all four books for £1!!) It’s only fair that I share so here are my top 10 tips for buying preloved books.

  1. Don’t expect a system – You might be lucky and find a place that alphabetises by author but, especially in charity shops or garage sales, you’re usually going to find a mishmash shelf or box. Get in there and rummage. Don’t forget to also check the children’s sections for YA books.
  2. Ask – If the shop is in a place you visit regularly ask them to hold any books by your favorite authors for you. Again, charity shops like this because it almost guarantees them a sale. This is how I collected the Game of Thrones book series without any hassle and for no more than a couple of pounds each.
  3. Be flexible – You’re unlikely to be able to pick up an entire series all in hardback with limited edition covers. If you really do want to read the book make sure you overlook the fact that its used and maybe a little tatty. If you’re paying pennies you can always upgrade later.
  4. Trade some in – Most used book stores and charity shops are always happy to accept your book castoffs. Trade in often and make friends. That way you’re the top of their list if anything really special turns up.
  5. Know your stuff – Get to know collectors editions, first editions and similar special features. Know your local covers vs the rest of the world. You could find a valuable treasure.
  6. Know YOUR stuff – Keep a list of your books or wants with you. That makes it easier to check if you already have the book you found.
  7. Always be shopping – Don’t just go once or twice. Drop in and browse every time you pass. You never know what is going to turn up, or who else is looking for it.
  8. All is fair in love and books – Haggle, bargain and barter. Don’t be afraid to ask for a price on the stack of books you’re buying. After all, these books need a new home and if you follow step 4 they have new books to fill the gaps.
  9. Check the condition before you buy – Even though they don’t need to be pristine you do want the books in readable condition. Take a moment to open the book and check the pages are still in tact, not torn and not missing. Refunds are rare in used books.
  10. Admit defeat – Sometimes you have to pay full price. New releases, best sellers and highly popular books are not going to be in a thrift pile. Of course, don’t forget to check your local library before you hand over the debit card.

Did I miss any? Throw your tips down in the comments