Friday 18 March 2022

My favourite places to buy second hand books

I thought I'd write today about some of the places that I go when I'm in the mood to buy books, and in an attempt to save money I'm looking to buy them second hand. When I talk about second hand books, in general I mean mass market paperbacks that I'm buying in order to save some money and support the circular economy. I'm not talking about rare books, first editions or older books, I'm sure there are completely different markets for those!

In person

Charity shops

My absolute favourite place to buy second hand books! I have a few roads near me where I can park up and spend an hour or two browsing in six or seven charity shops all close to each other. It would be a rare event if I didn't come home with at least three or four books that I wanted to add to my collection. In my area the going rate is about £1 - £1.50 for a paperback in a charity shop.

The library

All my local libraries have a trolley with books for sale, and if I keep my eyes open I sometimes stumble across a larger sale where you can fill a bag for 50p or £1. These books are sometimes a bit battered but are a good source for hardwearing hardback books, and also great for arts and crafts like altered books.

Car boot sale or garage sale

I don't go to car boot sales regularly but I do take part in our yearly village garage sale trail. I bought a couple of books last year for 50p each, and I was selling a few myself for 20p.


My favourite source for second hand books online is Wob, formerly known as World of Books. I find their prices very reasonable, especially if you are looking for more obscure or out of print books. I've bought a few books that I remember reading as a child which aren't available in print anymore. 

I've also heard good things about AbeBooks although I've not yet used them myself.

I discovered Wob through Amazon which is another good place to look, just click on the Used tab underneath an item listing. It can be a bit misleading because the price on the main tab doesn't include postage so you do need to check that. Make sure to check the seller reviews too. I made a bit of money when I left university selling my old textbooks on Amazon, but these days it mainly seems to be businesses rather than individuals that are selling books and it's usually the same companies that pop up.

Finally I've never bought books on eBay but I watched a video a few months ago that made me very tempted! I'd love to try buying a big mystery box of paperbacks. It's the postage that usually puts my off, I think you probably need to keep an eye out for book bundles in the genre that you are after, and ideally find someone selling nearby so you can go and collect.

Do you like to buy second hand books? Where do you go for a bargain?

Lots of books on shelves
Photo credit Jessica Ruscello via Unsplash

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