Used-Book Sales

At a used book sale, I saw a man in his late twenties pick up a John Le Carré spy novel, The Dune, a biography of Shakespeare, and Virgil’s Aeneid.

I’m fascinated by people’s used-book choices. At a sale, I usually veer towards pre-1970 small-town Americana. There’s a lot of fascinating stuff that was published – novels, of course, I rarely read anything else – about small Midwestern towns, pioneer outposts, poor farmer communities in the South. There’s no way to find out that this stuff even existed without a used book sale.

And people do read a lot. Every time there’s a sale in my time (and there were two major ones just in the last month), I have to beat my way through the crowd. Readers haul books away by the cartful.

3 thoughts on “Used-Book Sales

  1. That’s cheerful news. Where I live – Central European mid-size metropolis – it has become very difficult to sell books to dealers because nobody wants them. I’m not sure that many have moved to ebooks or audio books, but the fact is that very few people buy or read paper books.


  2. “fascinated by people’s used-book choices”

    There are few things I love more than rummaging through boxes or shelves of used books… One of my favorite things now that we’re back to physical on site classes is that the shelves next to the library where they put out books they don’t want anymore is back,
    A big colorful coffee table book about nature from the 1980s (in Danish but… cool!)
    A bunch of automobile manuals (1990s or early 2000s) in Russian… (pass)
    An Austrian bestseller from the 1970s I’d never heard of…. great!
    A handful of English paperbacks (I’d read one and others were military stuff I’m not into, but I picked up a thick murder mystery train-airplane novel).
    Polish book about pre-WWII Jews (published in the communist era)…. why not?

    Every day at the university becomes a little adventure in scavenging…


  3. About a decade or so ago I ended up going about Europe. I ended up staying in Amsterdam for a day and decided to walk about at random. Seriously I would pick a direction and start walking. Over the course of the day I ended up stumbling across an open air used book market, and oddly enough a closed air book market inside what I think was a train tunnel. It was kind of odd, but still really neat. While most of the books were in other languages, it was still quite fun to browse the various stalls (the markets were composed of a few dozen individual stalls rather than a single seller,) just to see what was available, what was different, and if there was anything unique. I was highly disappointed that I only had my book-bag available for storage. It was quite fun, and I ended up with a handful of new, well used really, but new to me books.

    I absolutely love used book sales, its always quite exciting to look about in the hopes of finding something new or interesting. I just find it a shame that they are so rare in the area I live.


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