Booking Through Thursday

Whew! Must say I needed this little inspiration for today’s post. It’s been a crazy busy week and I’m nowhere near ready to relax. But I found a topic that I needed to answer!

Hosted by Booking Through Thursday, this week’s question asks: All other things being equal–do you prefer used books? Or new books? (The physical speciman, that is, not the title.) Does your preference differentiate between a standard kind of used book, and a pristine, leather-bound copy?

Easy! I vastly prefer old books! Not that I want them stained, stinky, or falling apart. But I don’t need them to be new or pristine. I like books because I like the words printed inside them, and I need to be able to read the words, simple as that. I’d prefer not to have highlighting or comments in the margins (unless they’re mine – that can be interesting, to see what I noted in high school!) but I’m pretty tolerant in general. So dogeared pages or some minor damage that leaves them readable is fine with me; really it’s probably a bit better, because I have less anxiety about messing up a brand-new copy. Uncracked spines make me nervous. A copy with some history on it is comforting and comfortable. A few of my favorite, most memorable books – like Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – I read for the first time out of battered copies older than I am that belonged to my parents. I love those copies; they’re irreplaceable.

When people shop for books for me for presents (oh boy!) I always ask them not to buy new copies, but to buy used paperbacks. For one thing, I used to commute by bicycle (sadly, those days are gone, for now at least) and carry books to and from work; the lighter and smaller for these purposes, the better. This is still true for carrying books around, of course, I just do less of it by bike. And, your money and mine both go further when buying used paperbacks than when buying new. I really think I just like the history of the actual, physical book, though.

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