Book Buying Choices: New or Used?

Our local Christian bookstore closed its doors for the last time this past Friday.

The owner fought valiantly to keep the doors open as long as he could, but after eight years, Jireh’s couldn’t survive. I’d gotten to know Bryan and asked him what led to the closure. His answer: the advent of e-books and the sluggish economy.

I watched with admiration as Bryan made every effort to stave off the inevitable. One of his attempts was to buy used books from customers and resell them. Just before the end, the number of used books in the fiction section was almost double that of new books.

Seeing the used book section in Jireh’s made me question my buying habits. When I went in the store, I gravitated to the new books section. Knowing that buying used books doesn’t help authors’ sales stats, most of the time I chose new books.

Amazon offers used copies of books within days of their release. Do they tempt me? Nope. My reason is the same. I’m eager to support authors.

Do I ever buy used books? You betcha. As a historical author, I often hear of out-of-print titles I just gotta have, and I buy previously owned copies.

For instance, a certain 120-year-old etiquette book I mentioned in my previous post arrived last week. Even though it’s been well used, I treasure it.

• • •

How about you? Do you buy second-hand books, new books or both?


About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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25 Responses to Book Buying Choices: New or Used?

  1. I buy both! It always makes me sad to see a bookstore close.

  2. Sherrinda says:

    I’ve had to shave my book budget this past year, so how I spend it has changed a bit. I usually buy both. I really depends on the author for me. If I personally know them, I buy them. (And by personally, I mean an online relationship!) It really fluctuates, depending on how much cash I have on hand. 🙂

  3. juliejarnagin says:

    I don’t buy many used books. I do however buy mostly e-books, which doesn’t really help my local bookstore. I should make a bigger effort to support them. I would hate it if they had to close their doors.

  4. In college, I was all about second-hand. Now, the only time I buy second hand is for things other than fiction. When it comes to fiction, I always buy new – for the same reasons as you, Keli!

  5. heatherdaygilbert says:

    So sad about the bookstore! And I buy lots of homeschooling books for my KIDS, but rarely buy books for me. However, I make exceptions when writers I’ve gotten to “know” online release books! Just bought Dani Pettrey’s “Submerged” and I won Katie Ganshert’s “Wildflowers in Winter.” I love reading these so I can enjoy the product of their hard work! Occasionally I’ll read something at the library and say, “I must own that!” But that’s rare!

    One of my favorite “deals” was when my husband bought me a new copy of “Gone with the Wind” to give our local library–in return for their old copy of the book. I LOVED that copy…yellowing, worn pages, cool photo of Margaret Mitchell in the front. And now I own it! It’s a treasure to no one else but me!

  6. Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

    When I am interested in a book, I try to get it as a second hand book as it is cheaper. But if I can I would also buy the new book. I often order books over ebay or amazon, and I have already pre-ordered your book, Keli and look forward to read it :-).

    I am a passionate reader since I was 5, and I have too many books…lol. They were the one thing I always took with me , no matter where I worked and lived – Ireland, Peru, Tunisia, Scotland, England, Germany…..

  7. Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

    Luckily in my hometown Kiel all bookstores from my childhood times are still open and running well. 🙂

  8. Keli, I agree that it is better to give support to our fellow writers by buying new. However, I also buy used … when? When I want an old book for research (like you), when a classic book is being read by my book club or when I am not sure I want to invest in an author whose work I am not familiar with. I can buy a used copy of an old book by an established author to test the waters, then continue buying them new as they continue to publish. It’s a ying/yang and the choices are often based on who wrote the book 🙂

    Sorry about you book store. This is a sight many of us will continue to see in the next decade );

  9. I’ve always bought used and new books but now that I know so many authors, I see the value in supporting them and their sales by buying new books. Now If I can just get all those books signed…;)

  10. I really only buy used books if the new is too expensive…but most of the time, it’s new books for me.

  11. Erica Vetsch says:

    I buy new. When we were first married, and we had no money, I bought used, garage sale, thrift store discount bin, and swap-a-book. Now that we’re more financially stable, I tend to buy new.

    😦 about your local Christian store.

  12. wendypainemiller says:

    Both, and this might not surprise you but there’s just something about a book that’s already been read. I tend to like those even more. 😉
    ~ Wendy

  13. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks for all the great comments. I empahthize with those dealing with limited resources. As a teacher’s wife who was a stay-at-home mom, I had to watch my spending carefully. In my pre-writing, pre-empty nest days, I didn’t buy nearly as many books as I do now. I frequented the library and made use of the romance exchange bin: leave one, take one. I’d borrow books from friends and share books I’d purchased with them. If I found a recent release I wanted on the shelves of our local used bookstore–which, I’m glad to say, is still doing well–I was delighted.

    When I embarked on my new career as a writer, things changed. Whereas I used to stumble across a book in Jireh’s, Borders, or Walmart that captured my attention, these days I live online in the community of writers and hear about one awesome book after another. I consider reading books in my genre market research–as well as an opportunity to support my author friends. Money isn’t quite as tight as it was when my hubby was low man on the salary scale, either. Of course, that will change when he retires some time in the next few years. I’m bracing myself for that, knowing I won’t be able to buy every book I want. That’s why I’ve built my craft and research libraries now.

  14. cynthiaherron says:

    Such sad news about your Christian bookstore! It makes me sick to think that we hear so much of this now.

    I try to support authors as much as I can by buying new, but I do buy used occasionally, as well.

  15. Melissa Tagg says:

    I used to buy all used books. It was just plain more economical. Especially in college.

    But as I’ve gotten more serious about my own writing lately, it’s made me re-think my habits. I do want to support authors…like I hope others will support me someday. 🙂 So I mainly buy new now. Plus, I do a lot of reading now on my Kindle, so it’s easy to buy new books with the click of my finger. I do need to get better at setting a budget for my reading habits, though. 🙂

  16. Brianna Soloski says:

    Both, although I am on something of an self-imposed buying ban these days in an effort to save my bank account. My local library in having a book sale in a couple of weeks and I am hoping to fill some holes in my collection. I have so many books (new, used, and E) and so little time to read them all. I also frequent my local library.

  17. Cindy says:

    I buy both, but I love discounted books if they’re new authors I haven’t heard of or tried yet. That’s why I also get books from the library. But if they’re authors I enjoy or want to support, I try to buy new. I’m hoping my budget for books will get bigger soon 🙂

  18. Beth K. Vogt says:

    In the past, I bought used copies of books … oftentimes for my kiddos.
    But now, I am all about buying new books. Hey, I’m an author. I am all about supporting other authors. Sometimes I buy print books. Sometimes I buy e-books.

  19. Becky Doughty says:

    I’m still a die-hard, old-fashioned bibliophile and I must hold a book–feel the pages under my fingers, gage my progress by the placement of the bookmark between the pages, wake up to the smarting thump of the book that I just dropped on my face–so I use my Kindle for research and free downloads rather than buying books. But I must admit that I’m a discount rack junkie because I have a very limited income…. Used books, however, I rarely buy, unless I find one that I can’t buy new.

    Excellent topic and a great challenge for readers to be more intentional. Well done.

  20. Donna Pyle says:

    That’s so sad about Jireh’s book store, because with the closing of his bookstore also goes the sense of community that revolved around it. 😦 I honestly can’t remember the last used book I bought, so I’d have to say I go with the new, as well.

  21. New for me! If I’m going to add a book to my personal library, I want it the pages to be crisp and clean (until I spill chocolate on them, of course). 🙂

  22. Susan Mason says:

    I mostly buy new but I do love a good used book store! So scary with all these bookstores closing!

  23. Darlene says:

    I buy both but the used books are usually ones I wouldn’t be able to find anyhwere else. Like you, I like to support authors. I have trouble walking by a bookstore, used or new. I have found some gems in used book stores. So sorry to hear about another independant book store closing.

  24. Loree Huebner says:

    I buy used books on occasion. They are usually old, out of print books, or history books.

  25. jeanniecampbell says:

    man….i don’t buy books unless they are digital. i’m afraid i might be one of the reasons jireh’s closed. (although clearly not the reason, since i don’t live there.) my life is so much simpler with digital reading. i’m a bit in love with my kindle app.

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