Used-Book Phobia


"Dear Blowhards —

I don’t like to buy used books unless I have no alternative.
There. I said it. I feel better already because confession purifies. Or
something. Maybe I don’t like used books because they give me the feeling that
they’re not really mine. Or maybe here’s another explanation. I’m not sure.
Truth is, I have all sorts of bookish quirks that are inexplicable — well, I
can’t explain them, and they’re my quirks after all. Another quirk is that I 
don’t believe in Freud, so no comments invoking him, thank you. (And my belief
in Santa Claus is wavering too; I’ll save that for another time. But the Easter
Bunny rules!!)…"

Donald Pittenger @ 2blowhards

[via Conversational Reading.Thanks Rachel!]

2 thoughts on “Used-Book Phobia

  1. In Texas and California (and perhaps they’ve expanded to other places by now), we have a great company called Half-Price Books. Lots of stores, tons of used books. If a given store doesn’t have what you want, they can almost always find it at one of the other stores. I don’t buy many tech books as brand-new any more, simply because if one has been out more than about six months I can get it through HPB.

    To me, getting a book from the library is the same as getting a used book. And inter-library loan programs these days are excellent if you don’t need to have the book on your shelf long-term or permanently.

    I have to confess that, unlike Donald Pittenger, I’ve always liked used books just for themselves. Perhaps it’s curiosity, perhaps it’s vaguely voyeuristic. Maybe it helps that I don’t mind dirt and smudges. You find marginalia, notes, ticket stubs, and, once in a while, currency, tucked into the pages. These are traces of other lives crossing yours, like the wake of a ship that passed this way just ahead of you and disappeared into a fog bank. They are proof that you, even though you may be alone as you read, are not alone in your pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, and adventure. They augment and complement my own experience in reading the book, and I hope that future owners of each book will be as fascinated by those bits and by the ones I leave behind accidentally or occasionally on purpose. If you’re the kind of person who is inspired or challenged by knowing that others have trodden your path before you, used books are a great source of accidental information.

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