23 July 2006

New Versus Second-Hand Books

I don't much like owning second-hand books. I'll make exceptions for some books—books that are out of print, say, and that can only be acquired second hand. Then there are those that have been given to me after being owned by someone I care about, such as my father's series of action books or the mini-library of medieval texts given to me by a professor I once worked with. But by and large I much prefer new books. I like to know that the books haven't been handled by a lot of other people, although not because I'm worried about germs. A large part of it is my enjoyment of the physical experience of new books. I love opening a new book, smelling the "fresh book" smell, and feeling the texture of the pages. Even after I've read a book often enough that the newness has faded from it, I still have memories of my enjoyment of it when it was new. I don't usually like the smell and texture of the pages of a used book, so that can detract from my enjoyment of the overall experience of reading it. It's not as if I refuse to handle second-hand books; after all, I use the library all the time. I just like the books I own to be new. I think I'm in the minority here, though. Many other book-lovers I know love second-hand books and love the feeling of getting a great bargain in second-hand bookstores. Now I've found an article by Thomas H. Benton in which he has written eloquently about his love of second-hand books and bookstores. However much I don't care for them, I'm certainly glad that there are people who are devoted to finding new homes for books that would otherwise be tossed (shudder).


Blogger Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

This was an interesting post, Amy. I posed the question to myself and I think I mostly agree with you. Unless a book has been given to me or I have found it after a 'deep' search in an antique shop or second hand bookshop then I prefer the books I own to be new. The smell of old books is off-putting on occasion...I suppose we are spoiled in our world to have the luxury of not having a need to accept the second-hand book when we can easily purchase new books.

7/23/2006 08:33:00 p.m.  
Blogger ebbye said...

Yep! As the owner of a second hand bookshop, they come here as an alternative to being chucked away! My books are virtually new and in great condition because sometimes people read them once or receive them as a gift and don't know what to do with them! They are loved and I agree I love the smell and feel of new books but love the fact that a book is meant to be read and shared and loved over and over... :)

7/23/2006 08:51:00 p.m.  
Blogger Amy said...

Heather, you're right--I'm certainly spoiled in my wish for new books.

Ebbye--I agree; it is nice to know that books are being loved and shared by a number of people. I hope your bookshop has a steady stream of business!

7/23/2006 11:41:00 p.m.  

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