A Guide to New Vs. Used Books


I am an avid fan of buying used books. I’m constantly going to the one used book store that we have in my town or going out of town to visit bigger cities with more used book stores. I also like using Ebay’s Half.com to buy used (and sometimes new) books for as little as .75 cents for a hardcover! Don’t get me wrong though, when Barnes & Noble had their 2 for $20 hardcover YA “Summer Reads” sale I definitely went crazy and bought $100+ worth of books…

I didn’t realize that there were so many people out there that did not like to buy used books, Eden and Jenn are just two of those people! I totally understand their reasoning of not knowing who had the books or what touched the pages before you got the book, thus only buying brand new books. For some reason, maybe I am a filthy human being, I don’t have the same qualms about used books as they do, so I’m more often than not buying used!

Half.com, the website I always buy used from, states in their guidelines that hardcover books must be listed in different conditions – Brand New, Like New, Very Good, Good, and Acceptable. I’ve found that the “Very Good” condition is exactly what I expect out of a very well taken care of used book. The slipcover of the hardback book must be in like new condition with no visible wear and tear and the pages must have no writing or other markings on them.

I have only been purchasing used books from the website for about 2 months now and I have two examples of the pros and cons of purchasing used books from an online retailer.


Pro’s: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

I bought this book in “Very Good” condition from half.com. There was no mention of anything peculiar about the book when I bought it, so I went ahead and snatched it off of there for $3.32 (plus $3 shipping). When I received this book I was pretty excited because it was basically brand new. My boyfriend (being the GoT superfan that he is) did a little more research and found that this was a first edition, first printing of the book. Just a quick Google search shows that this book resells for anywhere from $35 to $200 depending on condition and we got it for $6.32!

Con’s: The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan

On the opposite end of the spectrum I purchased the Serpent’s Shadow at the same time in “Very Good” condition, as I always do, and received the above pictured copy of the book. Obviously the book was not in very good condition as soon as I opened the package I was pretty disappointed. Besides the slipcover being completely mangled and chewed up, the pages were dirty and totally unappealing. *Note, I did email the seller and they refunded the money and told me to keep the book, so I’m not super upset about it or anything…

This demonstrates the differences in quality that you can get between new and used books. Does the issue that came up above make me hesitate about buying more used books online? No. I’ll keep buying used books online and just keep my fingers crossed that I don’t accidentally get a lower quality book than what I paid for.

Please comment and let me know what your opinions are on buying used vs new books, I would love to hear from you!


9 thoughts on “A Guide to New Vs. Used Books

  1. So I have pretty much entirely switched to ebooks because I don’t have much of the collector trait in me but I grew up reading library books and charity books. I would only get new books for my birthday and I only got them because I couldn’t get them elsewhere. I tend to now only buy books if it is something I want to read on release day or is an author I adore such as Lady Midnight, the Raven King, Empire of the storms. But I lend my books out and my friends and I used to not bother about keeping them pristine because for us a book was a story and focusing too much on keeping them pretty distracted you.

    For me I want people to look at my books and know that they’re loved and read and that’s the way I like them. I think it tells more of a story than a beautiful library of perfect spines and covers. However, it is really pretty to look at, it’s just not for me and I have discovered that I’m in the minority.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m truly not much of a collector either, my boyfriend is the one who is obsessive about first editions and all that good stuff… I do prefer hardcover over paperback just because of the longevity of a hardcover. That’s also why I like buying used because $20 for one hardcover book is a lot of money to me.

      I definitely see what your saying about the well-loved books showing their love! I still have plenty of those babies on my shelf too!

      Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I have also found that contrast between books listed as in “very good” condition when I buy online (I’ve even gotten some that had underlined and highlighted passages!) But, I do LOVE used bookstores; our library has its entire basement dedicated to one, and it’s the best – all books are $1-$2 and so many of them are practically new copies that patrons donate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I think I messed up by doing used book stores first and getting hardcovers for $5 at the most, so I just can’t justify spending the $20 for brand new ones anymore! It’s just so hard when there’s so many books out there, I still gotta eat and pay rent somehow!

      – Caitlynn


    2. Eden Here!
      So I totally get the appeal of cheap books, especially when they’re like new and in really good condition. But like Caitlynn pointed out in her post, I struggle to touch books that have been read by people I don’t know because I’m weary of what’s on the pages. Now, that sounds like crazy talk I know, but I’ve met more people who feel that way than I’ve ever expected. Actually, Jenn, our other writer for this blog, is the same way.

      I’m envious of anyone who is able to purchase used books and still read them. I’m sure it would turn my very small apartment into nothing more than stacks of books everywhere.

      – Eden

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoy buying used books because it’s a book with double the story. You have the story on the pages, printed I black and white. But you also have the story of the person who read it before you. It’s a book that keeps on telling.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And even aside from that you can get something of the history of the way the book was printed, too. I often get my older series from paperbackswap, and one of my favorite things about it is seeing how the covers, or the typeface, or the style of the book has changed. This is probably horribly nerdy of me, but I like seeing how publishing as an industry and reader preferences have shifted over the years.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve only bought used books one time. And that’s because they’d never been read and looked like they were in great condition! When they arrived they were as new, so that was awesome.
    Usually I just don’t like buying used ones, I like my books to look as new as possible for as long as possible. I don’t really know why actually, maybe it’s the perfectionist in me:P I’m just extremely careful with my books and if I do let people borrow them once in a while I make sure to give them intructions and let them know how very sad I’ll be if they wreck it:P

    Liked by 1 person

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