Second Hand Books

I'm a big fan of books (as you may have guessed), and also of libraries and bookshops, especially second-hand bookshops. I didn't used to buy books second-hand, until I went travelling. Well, books are practically essential when travelling, mainly due to flight delays, long bus journeys and being stuck in places with nothing to do. I don't read books, I consume them, at quite a rate when I'm at full tilt. This can become somewhat pricey when you're travelling, and money is one thing you don't have much of, so I got used to buying books in second-hand shops, and occasionally trading them in (though I did write a note in quite a few and leave them in hostel book exchanges -- most hostels have a book exchange).

I haven't been in that many since I came back, because I've never seen one in my rambles around my home town, so I just buy them new (or get them for presents -- incidently, books are relatively cheap here in the UK, having been overseas, books seem to cost much more relative to people's earnings). However, I decided to have a trawl around the net (mainly as I'm looking to sell on a few of my beauties -- more on that soon) and came across two sites that piqued my interest here in the UK (actually I found plenty more but most were very badly done, I don't buy stuff from dodgy looking sites).

Abebooks look to be the most professional outfit, with worldwide sites and more books than you can shake a stick at. Starting at just 56p (plus p&p) you're looking at some right bargains too. The site is good to, fast and easy to use, but the search function can take some tweaking to get the results you want (i.e. lowest price, UK only for example).

Next we come to Green Metropolis, it's an odd name I'll grant you, but it was set up by Barry Crow with the aim of making reading more environmentally friendly. Paperbacks start at £3.75 including delivery and 5p of every book sold gets donated to the Woodland Trust's plant a tree scheme. The site design is a little odd, but it works well and they have a fairly good range.

As I said, part of the reason for my looking was because I have accumulated quite a few books (did you realise that the average book reader buys between 11 and 19 new books a year and has between 50 and 99 old books lying about at home they don't read anymore) that I would like to get rid of and hopefully make some money from (possibly to give to charity, possibly for my eventual film project). Selling via Abebooks is really only for stores as it will cost you at least £17 per month, but Green Metropolis is designed for anyone to sell and make about £3 per book.

Of course there's always Amazon's marketplace, but they do levy a hefty 75p closing fee and 15% of the price of the item. I don't know why, I just don't like marketplace, I can't put my finger on why, maybe because the giant behemoth that is Amazon is out of alignment with my notion of second-hand bookshops.

Anyway, maybe you guys will consider using the sites I suggested, maybe you'll think of buying second-hand in future, maybe you'll dig out your old books that are now gathering dust and try and earn a buck or two, for you or for charity, and if that doesn't spur you, maybe some of the prices on rarebooks.co.uk will.

Incidently, if your interested in a free, easy and novel (sorry about the pun) way to share your books with others, why not check out Book Crossing?

1 Comment

  1. Steve

    As an equally voracious consumer of the written word ( usually about 3 books a week) I can only agree. There is no more pleasureable experience than spending a lost couple of hours in a second hand book shop finding rare nuggets that you would never consider reading. The online approach athough laudable would deprive me of the joy of visiting my own literary oasis which currently is "The Petersfield Bookshop" - By appointment to HRH [The Queen] & [HRH] the Prince of Wales no less. But, back at the plebian end of the spectrum this has a second hand section that never closes! The books are under a large "carport" portch, and are remarkably cheap, 70 pence each, or 3 for £1!(Out of hours they rely on the honesty of customers by encouraging you to post the cash through the letterbox!)
    The selection is huge, even bigger if you are prepared to wade through the several large boxes of unplaced stock, amongst my most recent "finds" were Gerald Durrell (in literary, not animal mode), The Autobiography of Morecambe & Wise, and Chapters 1-6 of the Bhagavad Gita (eclectic huh?).
    Go on Lee, get in your car & visit this classy little shop,the aroma of old books alone is enough!

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