Book Buying

How do you all go about buying books? Where do you most regularly get books from? Do you spend hours perusing old secondhand book stores, or do you spend a few minutes clicking mouse buttons?

I tend to get books from a number of different sources. Some I prefer to others, however the method which I get the most enjoyment from is the one that I do the least.

I get some books from local auctions. My father inhabits the local auction scene and has been known to pick up the odd six or seven boxes of books for me, usually for 25p a box or something silly. This is obviously cheap, but the quality and type of books can be quite random. It can be interesting searching through the boxes to see whether there is anything of interest or value, but in general my least favourite method.

My favourite method book buying is secondhand book stores. I can spend hours lost in the pleasure of leafing through musty old tomes. I will hopefully be checking out a few of this type of shop on Friday when I go to London. I have plotted a route from the station to the restaurant that should take me past six or so bookshops. I will just have to be careful not to get too engrossed in them and be late for my meeting. That would not be ideal. Although this type of book buying, along with visiting book fairs, is my favourite method, it is not the method that I use the most.

As much as I would like to have the time to buy secondhand editions of books with character from real shops I tend to end up buying most of my books from Amazon purely because of the convenience. The pressures of work tend to mean that I have little time for visiting bookshops and being able to get the books I want online is just too tempting. I actually really love the Amazon wish list as I enjoy adding all of the books that I want to get as I discover a new author or read a review about something. The ability to buy books with one click is also useful, but extremely dangerous in my opinion. I should really disable it, if that is possible. The recommendations that Amazon provide can also be quite useful in pointing you to other books by the same author or stories in a similar to what you have just ordered.

So what is your favourite method of book buying? Comments please.

41 thoughts on “Book Buying

  1. I get a lot of books from various sources as well, but my favorite place to buy books is at estate sales. I love to buy a dusty box of books from someone’s attic without ever looking in the box. Occasionally there are some real jewels. I suppose it is also the thrill of not knowing exactly what you are getting until you have it home. Great post!


  2. Great question! I am also a fan of the secondhand bookshop. There is something magical about holding a book in one’s hands– especially one with a history you can see and touch and smell.

    Also agree about the ease-of-clicking drawback: a quick way to spend way too much!


    • Like you say the Amazon one-click easy method of book buying is a sure way to quick financial ruin. Secondhand bookshops do seem to have that little bit of magic about them, don’t they. There is something to excite all of the senses, although I am not sure tasting them would be a good idea!


  3. I worked for Borders for a number of years, until the company declared bankruptcy. Although our family used my discount to purchase a lot of books there, used bookstores have always been favorite haunts. I still love the smell of books, old or new.


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  5. Although I will buy books whenever and wherever the interest strikes, the greatest joy I get from the act of perusing books is in second-hand shops. To me, it is akin to hunting for unfathomable treasure, and I am so much more likely to take a flyer on an untested subject matter or genre than if I walked the aisles of a first-hand bookstore or shopped online. Luckily, Toronto is rife with second-hand stores of all ilks: trashy hole-in-the-wall fronts for porn, overstock and gently loved tome catacombs, and history-imbued wisdom-of-the-ages-dripping niches.


    • I agree with this sentiment. I will buy books from anywhere, most likely the easiest place (online?). However, for browsing and the sheer enjoyment of handling real books you cannot beat secondhand book shops. There is something about the smell, the feel, the whole experience, that is magical. Thanks for commenting.


  6. I buy books from Amazon like everyone else because it’s cheap and convenient.
    But I also buy books from my fantastic local indy bookshop
    Everyone loves theses places, and no-one wants to see them go, but here’s a warning: in many running stores in the US now they’ve started charging people to try on running shoes. Why? Because people go and try them on, get all the free advice from the knowledgeable running people, then go and order the shoes from Amazon. That sucks! Not sure how this would translate to the book industry. Having to pay to browse?


  7. Second-hand bookshops definitely a favourite but Amazon is for convenience. Also I like to haunt antique auctions that have original diaries and other ephemera…gives me loads of ideas for articles/short stories.


    • I agree, these are my two preferred methods, for much the same reasons. Not really personally tried the antique auctions though. I like the idea of getting ideas for stories from diaries and so on from auctions. Good tip! Thanks for commenting.


  8. Primarily I buy (used) books through; you can often find a first edition in mylar wraps from a library for a song (because of an arthritic condition in my hands, hardbacks are easier for me to read than paperback editions). I’ve also begun visiting a new/used bookstore in my L.A. neighborhood, Stories Books and Cafe, which has some great finds at affordable prices.


  9. I’m a very slow reader. So, I envy people who can just sit down and fly through books. I love to read. I cannot break the habit of pronouncing the words in my mind. I have to be very selective about what I read because I am not very quick. Once I pick a book, I’ll be with it for a while. I’m extremely picky and read only what draws me in deeply as quick as possible. I have to be picky. With that said, I’ve read some hefty books, George R. R. Martin and Terry Goodkind door stoppers and others. Kindle on my smartphone is a Godsend. It narrows the text into a thinner column and for some reason I can read that much faster than a paperback. Thus I’ve read lots more books since I got it. When I read fiction books, I used to make a lot of notes in the margins. It’s not as easy on the kindle, I do miss that.


  10. I buy most of my books online too, and then they get downloaded to my Kindle. But I also go to secondhand shops, and sometimes first hand shops to peruse books, especially if they have a coffee shop for me to read while sipping right after buying. I mostly get recommendations from friends, that too. Thanks for stopping by!


  11. For the most part I’m a fan of Amazon for the convenience. The have most of what I’m looking for and the gratification is instantaneous. I have been known to spend a lot of money at Barnes & Noble and when Borders had their firesale prior to going out of business I left the store with two shopping bags full.
    Every once in a while I’ll get out to a second hand store just to see what’s up. But something I really love are specialty bookstores. I was on a trip to Richmond, VA and came across this store:
    Very nice shop with a great collection.


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