What treasures have you found at used book stores or Goodwill?

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What treasures have you found at used book stores or Goodwill?

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Edited: Dec 31, 2006, 10:02 pm

I work for a library for the blind and we are always trying to fill in our collection. I think it is terrible when we have number 5 and number 12 from a series and none of those inbetween. I have found a number of books from Janet Dailey's Americana series at Goodwill. A lot of our patrons are older and many like a "good clean romance".

Dec 14, 2006, 11:05 pm

Message removed.

Dec 15, 2006, 10:41 am

One of my absolute best library sale finds was a small press first edition of the poems of American poet Adelaide Crapsey, who had died of TB before the book was published in 1915. It's called, simply, Verses.

Inspired by an anthology of poetry by women titled The World Split Open, edited by Louise Bernikow, I was at the time on a quest for books by little-known woman poets of the early 20th century. "Verses" was on my list, but I never thought I'd find it. When I picked it up and saw the title on the cover, I gasped. My husband, who was nearby, shushed me and pointed out that I shouldn't be so obvious about finding a potentially valuable book. After all, I had to pay only 50 cents for it!

Dec 20, 2006, 1:16 pm

I found hardback editions of Volumes 1, 2, and 4 of Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time at the San Francisco Friends of the Library big book sale at Ft. Mason. They were $1 apiece! I was so excited! Of course, I then paid $32 for Volume 3 on Alibris because I became obsessed with having the complete set. :)

Dec 20, 2006, 1:27 pm

I shop at Goodwill almost on a weekly basis :) I've found so many good books for $1.00 that it would be really hard to say what was the best one. My most recent hit was just yesterday and had (among others):

The Drowning Man by Michael Robotham
Heart Seizure by Bill Fitzhugh
Goat: A Memoir by Brad Land
Coalescent by Stephen Baxter
Vodka by Boris Starling
The Graft by Martina Cole

Feb 13, 2007, 1:56 am

Last month, at the Goodwill, I found a 1938 copy of The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud. Last weekend I found an entire SHELF of Joyce Carrol Oates, all but one of them in almost brand new condition. All for $1.99 a piece...

Feb 13, 2007, 7:23 am

I found a 1950s paperback of Gladiator in a seashide used book shop for 2 bucks.

Feb 13, 2007, 3:43 pm

I tend to have pretty good luck at my local library's book sales ... at the most recent one I got a hardcover 1st edition (albeit 5th printing) of Catch-22 for $1 ... and got closer to completing my John Gardner (not the James Bond one) collection by picking up Wreckage of Agathon.

Edited: Mar 21, 2007, 6:53 pm

Sorry. I just saw that my message posted twice.

Edited: Feb 13, 2007, 11:01 pm

We've got a Goodwill Distribution Center near us; it's about the size of a football field. Each aisle is lined with 12 16-foot long tables on wheels. Several times a day, the workers roll out a set of tables, restock them and roll them back in again. Then pandemonium ensues. This is not a place for the weak-of-heart because items get thrown out of the way for people searching for some possible hidden treasure.

They used to have a whole separate area for books, records, software, etc. They'd stack as many books as would fit into laundry-basket sized crates, maybe 5 or 6 crates per table, 8 tables per row, 3 rows. There were also 3 large bins where books were just dumped in there, 3 or 4 feet deep.

That area is now just like the other aisles, with tons of people castoffs instead of books. The books are now dumped into cardboard crates that are 5-foot cubes against one wall. You can only access the books within your reach, and that's it; you can't climb in and dig down. Kind of makes you wonder what treasures are buried below.

That being said, my wife and I have bought maybe 100 books from Goodwill over the past year and a half. Some go to her school library if they're in pristine shape. I've picked up several signed FEs there -- over a dozen, I'm sure, and many more FEs -- one being Human Sexual Response -- (rather mild stuff now, but extremely controversial when it was first published). I think our prize, though, is a 6-inch thick Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary that we got for all of $1.50.

We're having a dictionary stand built to display it (and store other tomes) in our living room. The irony of it all is that the stand is costing over 100 times what we paid for the book.

Mar 21, 2007, 2:49 pm

At a library sale, my mother found a paperback copy of Cider with Rosie ... autographed by Laurie Lee! (It's now mine.)

Mar 22, 2007, 1:21 am

For under $2 I got a 1925 Great Short Stories of the World by Barrett H. Clark and Maxim Lieber that's superb, but the "treasure" was the Hiroshigi Japanese wood block print that fell out of it!

Mar 24, 2007, 4:10 pm

I attended yet another local FOTL book sale today; I can't seem to pass one by. I had to make three trips to my car. Not only is the 'fun-of-the-hunt' exhilarating but now those book sales hold the double delight of 'can’t-wait-to-get-home-to-catalog-my-finds-on-LT'. So imagine my glee at discovering that one of my finds is a signed, first edition. Studs Terkel’s "The Good War": An Oral History of World War Two weeeeee! I don’t think it was ever cracked open as there’s not even a tiny rip any where on the dust jacket and the binding is still tight. On top of all of that it was only fifty cents! Is today my birthday?

Apr 5, 2007, 9:37 am

Have just returned from a day out in Bedford (I live in Northampton) and have found a four volume set of Osbert Sitwell autobiography Left Hand,Right Hand! in the local Oxfam store. Also a book that I have long been after Sarratt and the Draper of Watford by John le Carre in a clearance box in Waterstones here. The Sitwell's were 99 pence each and the le Carre £1 so not bad at all.

Edited: Apr 25, 2007, 3:48 am

All of my Retief books by Keith Laumer came to me used... saddly they are not in print, and even used, they are difficult to find


Apr 26, 2007, 4:45 am

Now that the warm weather is here, my favourite bookstall is up and running once again. It's in Cresswell Quay in Pembrokeshire, outside the pub on the estuary. All the books are 4 for £1. How can you pass that up?!?! I had 8 last week (including Love for Lydia by H.E. Bates, The Names by Don DeLillo and The Vacillations of Poppy Carew by Mary Wesley), and will be returning this weekend for more! :)

Apr 29, 2007, 10:05 am

There is this wonderful used book/antique shop halfway to our nearest town, and the whole family sometimes stops in. I have found such treasures as an old version of The Witch of Blackbird Pond, with very nice cover art, Afraid to Ride, a horse story with wonderful illustrations, and The Black Spaniel Mystery, one of my favorite mystery books for teens of all time.

My mother found a classy set of books entitled Lands and Peoples, a ton of gothic novels, and a compilation of stories entitled Supernatural Cats.

My dad found a recorder, and my brother's collection of Hot Wheels has expanded a fair bit since we started going there, but that isn't very important.

May 12, 2007, 6:30 am

I found a lovely old 1950s Penguin edition of Rose Macaulay's The World My Wilderness yesterday in a market.

May 12, 2007, 9:43 pm

I just snagged a copy of The Great Santini for $1 from the bin near the front of my grocery store. All the money goes to The Jimmy Fund... or something like that.

Jun 15, 2007, 9:18 pm

i live in volusia county, florida, which has a weird economic base. there are maybe 70 percent well to do oldster in quarter million homes with 30 percent poor people and the libraries toss their books out regularly. i go demsey-dumpster diving with a long prong pickup stick, and hit the many (50 or so) thrift stores around the county and get all my books FREE or less than $1. In the dumpster, I have found a first edition of Kerowac's On the Road and the whole set of leather-bound Harvard classics. most of my Koontz and King books come from the thrift stores, and if I wanted to read grisham, clancey, or mary clark I could select fromnumerous copies of as fine first editions. they are everywhere. why buy new books when such a treasure trove seems everywhere?

Jun 16, 2007, 7:11 pm

Lucky you, andyray!

Jun 18, 2007, 11:58 am

#20: I am reeling at the idea that a library would throw away books! Lucky you to be there when they do. But think of the alternatives: they could sell them at a once-a-year sale, they could keep a "For Sale" shelf in the library and sell them continuously, they could donate them to charitable organizations to use or sell . . . .

Maybe because I live in Portland where everyone is obsessed with recycling, but to think of throwing away perfectly good books -- CRAZY!

Jun 19, 2007, 4:11 am

i found ten volumes of the complete mark twain for one dollar apiece in the goodwill in bristol ct. They were half price - yellow ticket day. lucky me. This friday is the once a year library sale in my town (poughkeepsie) and I hope to get to the early bird sale and try to snag some art books, and some hardcovers to replace my paperbacks of classics. Yippee

Jun 29, 2007, 11:40 am

i think i gave the impression i don't spend much money on books. for those that i really want to read NOW i will be another ABEbooks customer or Amazon twit. Fortunately, I don't have to do much oftener than once a year or so.
The Volusia County Library system has some 13 separate libraries and they all have their separate regs on disposal of gift and cancelled materials. One of them has decided to sell ALL their VHS tapes for $1 and not circulate them anymore. another as i mentioned before throws out what they consider unsaleable books. trouble is they have a young man who is not schooled in book values. good for us! the daytona beach main library on city island has an extensive ongoing book sale, but one has to be lucky to find a volunteer who is manning the main room. if no volunteer you still have a selection of BOTM and tarnished paperbacks not kept under lock and key. another trick is to let your dogs run in the library's parking lot (our libraries mostly are situated so that heavy traffic isn't extant) at night, and maybe you'll find a dumping of books. I have had that happen only three times this year, but I have some gems from the pickings.

Jun 29, 2007, 2:44 pm

The Lost Van Gogh by A.J. Zerries - I picked it up from a used bookstore for $3 and its been one of my best bargains I've picked up in the store.

For fiction - I don't know if many do this but I know that I do frequently these days - find what books you want to get and check out Amazon's "Buy this New & Used from $XX.XX". You'll have to pay $3.99 shipping and you'll recieve it from a 3rd party, but there are some excellent deals to be found. I picked up three Carl Hiassen books that were less than $2 a piece that way last month. Add in the shipping and it was around $15 plus tax for three top notch novels. That's been my method of book shopping for the last several weeks - find what I went, then pick my deal in the Amazon Marketplace section. Doesn't work so much for brand new books, but anything 6-12 months and older you can get for a steal.

Edited: Jul 13, 2007, 12:38 pm

I've often purchased used books from Amazon.com (my hubby sells used jazz cds on Amazon, so we are always poking around on there), but my enthusiasm waxes and wanes.

If I haven't been to a good library sale lately, or have otherwise run dry on $2 to $3 books, paying $4 for shipping to get a book for $1 or less (often hardback best sellers go for $.25 or even less!) strikes me as a good deal.

But I have had bad luck buying used paperbacks on Amazon.com. WARNING: Cranky rant following:

I have several times (I'm slow to learn) bought paperbacks described as "Like New" or even "New" and received a well-thumbed book with a bent cover and multiple spine creases. (Following a strict if pointless no-spine-creases rule when reading paperbacks, this last really irks me.)

When I complain about the faulty descriptions, the sellers all said, "What do you expect? The book only cost a quarter." No, it "cost" me $4.25, which I was willing to pay because I wanted a "Like New" book. If I wanted a beat up paperback I could spend 25 cents at a garage sale. (What happened to the cent sign on the keyboard?)

Enough venting. I will put those bad memories behind me. :) I must remember that I will be in San Francisco next week where the highlight of my visit will be a trip to the greatest library book store ever -- the Book Bay at Fort Mason.

Jul 13, 2007, 12:41 pm

Well, just yesterday, at one of the local libraries' bookstore, I found the first American edition of A Hero of our Time by Lermontov, translated by Vladimir Nabokov and his son Dmitri. I spent the exhorbitant amount of fifty cents for it!

Jul 17, 2007, 11:27 am

I've not had much luck at our local Goodwill, but the Habitat for Humanity Store has a fabulous selection of books. I found the Complete Flannery O'Connor and a signed Trellis Cookbook by Marcel Desaulniers. My local Friends of the library has great sales where I carry off sacks of mostly paperbacks.

Aug 3, 2007, 2:55 pm

Last Saturday at Goodwill and Unique Thrift I found a bee-yew-ti-ful copy of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, a copy of the biography A Beautiful Mind, Paula Begoun's Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me (sixth edition), a somewhat battered copy of Ursula LeGuin's original Earthsea trilogy, and a few others.

I have also found Jane Austen's Complete Works in hardcover for 30 cents (hardbacks were three for a dollar) at a library booksale. I'm going to some library sales tomorrow... been looking forward to it all week... :-P

Aug 5, 2007, 1:52 pm

Well done for snagging those Jane Austens, wisewoman! That's the deal of the century!

I had a lovely time at the car boot sale this morning. I didn't even spend £5 and came home with:

Beyond the Black Stump by Nevil Shute
Onions in the Stew by Betty MacDonald
Susan on Saturday by Susan Graham
I'll Never Be Young Again by Daphne du Maurier
Daughters of the House by Michele Roberts
After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell
Living Dangerously by Katie Fforde (I need a chick lit fix!)
Moab Is My Washpot by Stephen Fry
Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery

and a box set of five Penguin classic crimes comprising:

The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin
The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey (I already have another copy of this one, but it's one of my favourites)
Death at the President's Lodging by Michael Innes
The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham
The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

It was a very good day indeed. :)

Aug 6, 2007, 2:31 pm

We were up in Acadia National Park for a few days, and in the back room of a little souvenir shop in Southwest Harbor, they had a shelf of $.50 used books. I got a fifty-year-old volume of english fairy tales with color plates by Arthur Rackham! I don't know what's more awesome, the book or where I found it.

Aug 7, 2007, 3:10 pm

Are there any good used book stores in the Atlantic City area? I'll be there on vacation tomorrow until Sunday 8/12/07, and I would love to hit some of the local places.

Thanks for all suggestions!

Aug 7, 2007, 3:37 pm

I picked up a six volume set of The Memoires of Jaques Casanova for about 60 bucks. Not sure as to the publication date.

Interesting read, very slow going.

Aug 9, 2007, 8:41 pm

I don't know from Atlantic City, but someone else in this group posted a link for www.booksalefinder.com, that gives info about sales, etc.

Aug 10, 2007, 9:31 am

Aug 13, 2007, 12:14 pm

Excellent haul, wisewoman!

I picked up four books today at a charity book stall outside a pub for £1.

Included was a lovely 1943 copy of Frenchman's Creek with the dust jacket intact and in remarkable condition!

Edited: Aug 13, 2007, 8:46 pm

I found a really cute little used book store called Hooked on Books in Wildwood, NJ. I bought the following books...

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud
The Torso in The Town by Simon Brett
A Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffett
Lethally Blond by Kate White
A Tale of Two Sisters by Anna Maxted

All for under $20.00.

Sep 6, 2007, 10:43 am

I found The Salterton Trilogy last night at Goodwill and bought it on the strength of the reviews on the back. It looked like it might be good, and the 5 reviews here are good, so it seems my 50 cents was not ill-spent :-)

Sep 6, 2007, 12:06 pm

Just the other day I picked up an 1893 copy of Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter at the local Goodwill. It was published by Henry Altemus and was part of a series: the "Famous Red and White Books, Series 150". It also has an inscription from what appears to be a husband to his wife on Christmas day 1894. Can't help wondering if he had concerns or if she was simply a book lover.

Sep 6, 2007, 12:15 pm

Funny, NotSunkYet!

I love finding old books with inscriptions inside, don't you?

Sep 6, 2007, 1:57 pm

I love finding books with inscriptions although I sometimes find them to be somewhat sad. Inscriptions such as... Dear Grandma, ... Love, So & So makes me think that Dear old Grandma has passed on and somehow that thought is made worse wondering how Dear Grandma’s books have found their way to the local Goodwill. Weren’t any of Grandma’s descendants readers? Were there no descendants? If there were descendants didn’t they want to keep those special books given to her as gifts?

Oh, I’ve got to stop writing these thoughts before I depress all of you. I suppose it could be that they wanted to share Grandma’s library with the world.

I also think of my own mortality and when I’m gone who will and how will my books be dispersed? Maybe by the time I’m gone books will be thought of *shuddering* so technologically outdated or politically incorrect that they’ll simply be discarded. All I know is that if anyone in my family had been readers I would have felt tremendously special to have been bequeathed their library. I wouldn’t give a hoot about any money, money gets spent, books stay with you.

And I don't care what anyone else thinks; piles of books, strategically placed are decorating accents, not clutter.

Sep 6, 2007, 2:37 pm

I found a copy of The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire: 1936-1945 at a friends of the library sale. The inscription said "Happy Father's Day 1973. This was your war Dad." Broke my heart. I couldn't believe it ended up in a library sale.

Sep 6, 2007, 3:40 pm

#41 I agree completely. I recently purchased a cookbook at a swap meet. Three sisters were selling their recently deceased mother's belongings. For $2.50 I got a 1950's cookbook full of handwritten notations. I bought it not because I needed another cookbook, but because I felt that it needed to be in a good home. My husband thought I was crazy. It led to a discussion of what to do with my personal belongings (including my books) at my death. My husband promised to keep this book along with the others.

Sep 6, 2007, 4:04 pm

I'm beginning to think there is a link between lovers of words and an affinity for the past; each book we read has the capacity to live forever --- if the world goes on that long, another topic entirely --- and so we read to be connected to eternity. Finding an inscription in a book is how I feel when I come across a recipe handwritten by my less than affectionate mother. I see her in her youth and can almost see her cooking that meal. The words, the handwriting, the ink, all reach into my heart. I feel that way when I read history, and know that there really was an entire world before I came into it.

To #41, I can only say that your empathy with those inscriptions touches me. Our mortality will not be so bad as long as there are people like you to feel our existance.

Sep 6, 2007, 10:33 pm

#41 I often find myself feeling the same way. I've been haunting my local Goodwill's books and records room enough that I can often tell when someone's whole collection has come in, and sometimes even get a rough idea of what they must have liked. It's terribly sad, but at the same time, I sympathize with the people who donated it. With a constantly increasing amount of stuff, and an increasingly more mobile society, and a constantly decreasing birthrate, there's just more stuff than there is people to inherit it.

I console myself by buying a few and adding them to my collection, in remembrance for all of Grandma's books that were got rid of before I could fly out to the ancestral homestead to rescue them.

Sep 20, 2007, 8:08 am

mellanen: there is "stuff" and there is "stuff." books to me are not stuff. They are living voices with which I commune. I do volunteer work with two areas of society that most people don't know (or care to know) about -- drug addicts and alkies. I'm struck by how many of them do not know how to read, and those that do don't. There is some kind of commonality betwen books and mankind's continuity, I believe. Anyway, I have it in my WILL that the executrix must keep and enhance my collection in order to participate in the rewards of my material leftovers.

Sep 21, 2007, 10:35 am

I hear you, andyray: but unlike voices, books take up physical space in the house, and I'm 'communing' with six large cardboard boxes in the living room at the moment.

Sep 21, 2007, 7:42 pm

I certainly agree on the value of words and of reading and the continuity it gives us (I can go on for pages about it!) and I'm continually boggled by the number of people who *aren't* living marginally who don't read - what do they think about? Such a sparse life it must be ---

But at them same time, I too am 'communing' with several boxes of my great-grandmother's books in my attic. And my father's. And my other grandmother's. Many of which I have my own copies of, in more readable condition. I keep them because I value books as physical objects on an aesthetic level, and because I like having that connection with my ancestors through their books (And certainly one of my father's philosophy books, complete with his marginalia, is not something I would *ever* consider getting rid of.) And because I *swear* that one day I *will* have shelf space for them all.

All the same, if I did not *have* the attic and I had to prioritize I would probably choose to keep the hand-made quilts and the Christmas ornaments and the antique dresses and the oil paintings and the old letters and the grocery-stamp china and the woodworking over the boxes of crumbling books that I will never read. I can put the collections into LT and reconstruct them later if I want to! At least reconstruct the voices in them if not the physical objects. And with books the words are the important parts.

And if I ended up inheriting the books of one or two of my relatives who chose to make libraries instead of kids, I don't know *what* I'll do for space. (Or, for that matter, how my heirs will make room for my library. I suppose I'll just have to get famous enough that I can donate it to a university!)

Sep 21, 2007, 11:18 pm

There are books that I treasure and others that I read. The ones I treasure stay neatly stacked in my library bookshelves. The ones I just read are given away to Friends or other organizations...often a swap for something that goes on my TBR list. Now that's the unmanageble pile, in the nightstands, on the dresser, starting to amass in the guest bedroom... But I do not collect books that I do not intend to read (is that a doube or triple negative?). Even as I gather new books, I go through my piles and always read something from that list. I work my way through the books that I really do want to read. So there may be treasures available in all kinds of places, but unless I plan to read them...I leave them behind.

Oct 12, 2007, 8:10 am

One of my best deals at a local "Friends of the Library" sale happened 2 years ago. I happened to go into the FOTL bookstore the week before the sale. The lady working told me that someone had donated their brothers entire collection of science fiction & fantasy after he passed away. I was the first person in the door and wound up taking home 4 large boxes of books. All Sci-Fi & Fantasy in good shape. Nearly 400 books in all. I was in heaven for weeks after that!


Nov 9, 2007, 3:44 am

Looking through the shelves at a second hand shop in a small country town in Victoria, I came upon Peter Carey's the The Tax Inspector for $4. Only after buying it did I open to the second page to find the author's signature!

Lucky me!

Nov 9, 2007, 10:46 am

Not my best find, but a good one for the locale, a heap of old paperback Mickey Spillanes I found in a church basement bazaar. They included a copy of Kiss Me Deadly with this great cover of the lady who sets off the story fleeing from the asylum with captors in pursuit. I was twelve at the time and was elated with my find.

Nov 12, 2007, 11:03 am

I just found an 1890 copy of Charles Dickens' Sketches by Boz (it also has Great Expectations but that touchstone wasn't working). It was at a library booksale's bag day, and this lovely old hardback went in my bags with 26 other books for a total of $6. I wonder if that is entirely legal—?

Edited: Nov 16, 2007, 6:12 pm

Finding ridiculous deals at used shops can be hit or miss at best, but the best one I've made recently was picking up a first American printing of "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini, in a crisp, unclipped dust jacket, for $7.00, at a shop in Portland, Maine. I was shocked that it was on the shelf, in that pristine state, at that miniscule price. If you're looking for a copy of it nowadays, the cheapest pricethat first printing is running on ABE is around $400.

My best library/fundraising sale find was tracking down a poorly-filed (in the history table) first printing of Canadian author Robertson Davies first play, "Overlaid", for 50 cents. The play, when not published in an anthology, is among the scarcest pieces of twentieth-century Canadian literature.

I positively love library sales. Where else can you build a collection of classics, fill author gaps, &c., at less than a dollar a pop (most of the time)?

Dec 16, 2007, 1:07 am

I haven't been to the local used bookstore in awhile, I really should take a day-trip there now that I have a little bit of money (yes, day-trip... that's how long I always end up spending there!).

As for old books of the deceased.... When my grandfather died I ended up with a lot of his old books, and frankly they just aren't books I'll ever read. War books, old short-story collections... But I refuse to give them up. They are a part of him, and for that reason I want them.

Edited: Apr 20, 2008, 11:29 pm

Nobody's posted here in awhile, but I just had to post about my awesome find. Church yard sale, I picked up a complete 15 volume set published in 1964 of Masterplots Digests of World Literature in excellent... I may even say like-new condition. They gave it to me for $3! I was buying some other books too so my total was $6.50, but I gave them a $10 and told them to keep the rest because I felt slightly guilty at such a low price for these books and it was going to charity anyway. I just looked them up online and saw several collections of these selling for $75... On ebay the highest priced is at $380. Not that I really plan on selling them, but it just makes my find even better.

Apr 21, 2008, 12:51 pm

Very nice, Kegsoccer! :-)

I'm going to a big library sale this Wednesday. Counting the days...

Apr 21, 2008, 1:48 pm

I found a first edition first printing of Alcoholics Anonymous at a thrift store for $.50. When I sell it I will be able to fill my house with books!

Apr 21, 2008, 2:50 pm

If I worked it right, I could probably make a living off some of the things I find at Goodwill. Unfortunately, I don't really have the initiative for that. A few years ago, I found a huge selection of Easton Press books in excellent condition for 1.99 apiece. They look good, but they aren't really up my alley and I ended up selling them for a tidy sum. Nowadays, I pass up lots of books I might formerly have bought, out of the kindhearted notion that finding them will make some other bilbliophile's day (and because I have finally broken myself of the bad habit of knowingly buying duplicates!).

My best haul was a fairly large number of books on medieval history (some signed) dating to the first decades of the 20th century which I found in a Goodwill shop in Austin. They were inscribed by "A.C. Krey". Later I found out that Augustus C. Krey was a professor at the University of Minnesota, and that he was married to a minor but respected Texas novelist. When he died, she moved back to Texas and I assume that when she passed away, some of his books ended up at Goodwill. I love finding books that tell a story.

At the same Goodwill, I used to periodically find really excellent editions of classic English literature, stamped as coming from the library of "Ginger Hall". Ginger had excellent taste, but it seems as if she never so much as cracked any of these books open, they were in such pristine condition.

Apr 24, 2008, 8:23 am

>58 Jakethesnake: The proceeds from a first edition, first printing of AA could really fill your house with books... especially at 50c a volume! =8^O

I was shopping the bargain basement of an antiquarian bookstore in London, Ontario and was startled at the amazing books they marked down to 2 or 3 dollars and banished to the dungeon. Among other things I got a lovely book called The Maid of Domremy and Other Tales with a chromolithographed frontispiece. Can't tell the monetary value, it's one of those things that is too uncommon to have a price online, but it's a unique book for my daughter's collection of Joan of Arc books.

Edited: Apr 24, 2008, 1:10 pm

I've had many, many great finds in thrift stores. The find that comes to mind first is finding four volumes of a set called The Novels of Balzac, published by the Gebbie Publishing Company, Philadelphia in 1900.

The volumes I found are:

The Rise and Fall of Cesar Birotteau
A Daughter of Eve
Muse of the Department

May 22, 2008, 9:25 am

I found the whole series of Harry Potter in hardback for 50 cents each in Salvation Army.

Jun 12, 2008, 11:27 pm

Not a rare or unlikely find, but made me simply squee with joy:

While in San Diego last weekend, in Hillcrest (aka gay-central), I found a nice little used bookstore that had a huge section of LOCAL lesbian and gay authors. Books that are not on Amazon or readily available elsewhere. Picked up about 15 of them, jumping for joy the whole time.

Jun 27, 2008, 2:58 am

the best cookbook i've ever found had eight $100 bills in it. boy, was that a nice day.

Jun 27, 2008, 3:43 am

I found a hardcover collector's edition set of the complete works of Daphne du Maurier for what amounts to in American money 5 dollars.

Jun 27, 2008, 10:13 am

Whoa, whirledpeas! That's way cool :-)

Aug 23, 2008, 10:41 pm

I'm so happy! Today I found a first edition hardcover of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende at Half Price Books. The BEST part was the manager cutting the price for me from $25 to $8! He said I was the first person to ask after that book in months and since he had so many books that he needs to put on his shelves, he was willing to cut the price. It is in near perfect condition. This made my day!

Edited: Jan 16, 2010, 10:43 pm

Everywhere I go I search for a used book store. We recently took a trip to Nova Scotia (my first time). What a nice part of the country. But the thing I most remember is walking into this one book store. I didn't know what I was walking into. I have never ever been inside something with as many books or clutter in my life (and I am not young). A part of me wanted to start tidying the books up. They were every where. Some in broken down boxes, some on the floor piled higher than the book shelf beside it, there were in every nook and cranny. It just blew my mind. When I thought I had seen them all I discovered that there was an upstairs. You are probably thinking how did I not notice the stairs. Let me assure you it wasn't easy. On every step there were books piled up high. On the top floor, if this was possible, there were more books in all sorts of places.

Both my husband and I were in awe. A part of me wanted to give them all a better home. How would that book on the bottom of the pile ever be sold? We did end up buying about ten books. We wanted to buy more but they would let us. Yes, you read that correctly. When we asked how much these books were he said if there was no price on it it wasn't for sale. One would think that they would want to get rid of a few more seeing they had no room for more.

If you are a book lover and have been to Nova Scotia or live there You know of this book store in Halifax. Back me up and tell them I am not over exagerating.

Take a look for yourself. Five pictures in all.


Jan 17, 2010, 2:09 am

Hate to tell you, but I've seen worse. Much worse. But then, I'm willing to go into some pretty dicey places in search of neglected books, and I'll dig through a lot of trash to find a treasure.

Jan 17, 2010, 4:23 am

I've been in barn lofts with no shelves, just teetering piles of books. That store looks almost neat in comparison!

Jan 17, 2010, 12:22 pm

Wow...I have never been in such a place. I could have spent my whole vacation there and still not have seen it all. It certainly was an experience I will never forget.

I would love to be able to visit the places Makifat and Hailelib have visited.

Edited: Jan 17, 2010, 4:55 pm

Usually there's a dust-covered mummy propped up in the corner who turns out to be the owner. ;)

Jan 17, 2010, 7:32 pm

I'm a regular at the local Goodwill, Salvation Army and other thrift stores, as well as the library book sales. I tend to buy lots of mysteries, general fiction, and history/biographies, but I'm always on the lookout for something interesting or unusual. Some of my favorite finds:

You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming, a pristine hardback with dust jacket that shows a price of $4.50. Sixth printing.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, a nice book club edition from 1952 with dust jacket.
The Erotic Traveler by Sir Richard Francis Burton, hardback with dust jacket (older edition).
A Bell for Adano by John Hersey, a nice book club edition with dust jacket.

These were all priced at 3/$1.00. I know the book club editions aren't generally valuable, but even so, I couldn't pass up vintage Old Man and Adano.

I also paid 50cents for an honest-to-God first edition of The Da Vinci Code. The copy I'd bought new when the book first came out was something like the 46th edition. ;-)

One more, the other day, I bought The Book of Saints: A Comprehensive Biographical Dictionary at the Salvation Army store for 49cents. It's like new, with dust jacket, weighs about three pounds, and has a list price of $50. If nothing else, it makes a hefty door stop.

Jan 17, 2010, 10:04 pm

Wow, you have come across some great bargins. I have been surprised at some of the ones I have brought home too. Just can't remember which ones they were.

Jan 21, 2010, 3:35 pm

WOW! It is just as exciting to read about all your great finds as it is to find them myself!! I love looking for books at goodwill/second hand stores so much. I have a list of 10 stores in my very local area and I often go and spend a day going from one to the other. Sometimes I see books that I love for 50 cents that I already have, but I can't bear to leave there cause it is such a bargain and I know some of my friends would love them! So my friends are often the recipients of second hand books, which I think they love as they are all avid readers too :) My most recent 50 cent /$1.00 finds were;

The Alchemist By Paulo Coelho
The Fifth Mountain By Paulo Coelho
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time By Mark Haddon (Brand new/unread)
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy By Douglas Adams
Watership Down By Richard Adams
Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte (Beautiful, old, illustrated hardcover edition)
A Tale of Two Cities By Charles Dickens (Beautiful, old hardcover edition)
Emily Bronte Complete Poems By Emily Bronte

Jan 22, 2010, 11:44 am

I agree - adds value to have a link to someone, probably long dead, who also held the book (& perhaps wonder into whose hands it will pass when you are no longer around.)

Jan 22, 2010, 1:34 pm

#76> Very well said, and I entirely agree. That aspect of used books adds to their appeal and, dare I say, mystery for me. When I buy a used book that has an inscription, I usually google the name. Every once in a while I have found that I've bought a book once owned by somebody kind of interesting. But otherwise, just knowing there was somebody out there, alive or not, who once owned and, hopefully, read the same book I now own is intriguing in and of itself.

Jan 22, 2010, 1:40 pm

>77 rocketjk: I just came across a copy of Elizabeth and Her German Garden with a 1901 date and someone's name in it. That's a great suggestion, so I'll have to run home and Google them.

Jan 23, 2010, 4:41 pm

#78...you will have to tell us what you find

Edited: Jan 23, 2010, 5:06 pm

I've probably mentioned it before, but back in the 80's I came across a cache of books in the local Goodwill on medieval history (particularly the Crusades) that came from the library of the medievalist Augustus C. Krey*. Many of the books were inscribed to Krey by other medievalists, which made them even more interesting. Krey was a professor in Minnesota, I believe. He was married to a respected Texas novelist, and when he retired or died, the books ended up in Austin, where I found them. I assume that they were donated after his widow died. Being interested in the Crusades, these were a fantastic find for me. Along with the fact that most were being sold for around $1 each.

*Krey was the translator of William of Tyre's A History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea. Although I have (and have read) the first volume, the second volume, even in a later reprint, is elusive.

Edited: Feb 24, 2010, 7:51 am

I have been frequenting local used book shops, library sales, and thrift stores (and anywhere else where there are books!) since I was 10 (ten years ago). I've built up a massive collection of books, and I don't think that more than 5% of them HAVEN'T been bought at a used shop of some description.

I've had too many incredible finds to list them all...

I live in a high-rise apartment complex on the beach, consisting of 4 buildings. Each building has a "library" in the basement. You donate a book that you don't want, and take a book that looks better.
Mostly elderly (around 80 - 90 year olds) live in my area, and they seem to all be voracious readers, because there is a constant stream of books going in and out.
Many of the retired persons in my building are also from other countries, and there is a large Jewish population. These people have culture, so the books down there are good ones!

Recently, at this free, exclusive book shop, I have gotten...

Leonardo da Vinci: Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud. It is no longer published as a separate volume, but this one is first edition!

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, or, Volume One of Le-Miz. It is obviously very very old, and so beautiful. It has what looks to be a hand-crafted leather cover, published by Nelson & Sons. There is an inscription on the inside cover that says: "Oct. 1, 1907, Merry Christmas some months early."

Love Respelt by Robert Graves

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (my copy had recently been tragically lost at an airport - so I was glad to find a new one!)

2nd edition of Gone with the Wind!

And so, so, so many more.....

Also, the main library in my county (The Fort Lauderdale Library) has the most enormous Library Book Sale that I have ever seen. It's so big, that it's not even a book sale. It's a book shop - just as big as the used book store I go to.
The first time I went there, the woman directing me to it said in a bland, bored voice "All paperbacks are 10 cents, all hardbacks 25 cents unless other marked." Apparently, she did not see what a treasure trove was lying in wait here.
"ALL of these? 10 cents???" I managed to ask incredulously.
Needless to say, I bought more books than I could carry. At the time, I lived close by enough to walk, so I had.
I ended up having to go back 4 times to carry all of my newfound treasures back home!

Feb 24, 2010, 9:01 am

Jori, I am green with envy!

Feb 24, 2010, 12:29 pm

My favorite Goodwill find is Amy Bloom's Come to Me, as it was on my wish list after discovering and loving her more current works. We have lost most of our used book stores in the area, so Goodwill and Library book sales are very popular. For 89 cents, I pick up spare copies of books I love and want to share, but don't want to risk losing, like Housekeeping, In The Fall and A Walk in the Woods.
#26, I feel your pain, as many online used book sellers are not well versed in book ratings. A marred cover, bent pages, writing inside the book - all diminish my reading experience just a bit. I only buy used online when I am unable to wait for a book to show up at the area Goodwills.

Mar 27, 2010, 12:09 am

Wow, what fun it is to read of everyone's treasures, some of which made me a little jealous if the truth be told. I agree that bibliophiles have a strong link to the past, but also to the future as reading after all is both time travel and telepathy. To quote C.S. Lewis in the movie Shadowlands, 'we read to know we are not alone.' The fact that it is going out of style and may be completely replaced by eReaders makes me a little sad. It also gives me a little fear and schadenfreude when I think of what we will do when the next historical cataclysm arrives and we can't access our electronic knowledge. I have read of archives that are going completely electronic and it mystifies me.

But anyway, I have had many treasures in thrift stores and at garage sales. My latest treasures, courtesy of the Deseret Industries here in Utah are a 1930's edition of The Postman Always Rings Twice with art deco chapter headings and decorations and two nice Daphne du Maurier books and a liitle known James Hilton.

And just today I got a great 1980's mass market paperback copy of Sophie's Choice for a reading copy.

Apr 12, 2010, 6:06 pm

In the summer of 2002 I found at the local FOTL a high school yearbook (Western HS, Anaheim, CA -- Class of 1994) that was signed by Tiger Woods. It was signed "Ty Woods". I only paid $4 for it.

Also many years before I picked up at the local swap meet for a buck a 1929 yearbook from Long Beach (CA) Polytechnic HS that was signed by Spike Jones.

May 12, 2010, 1:01 pm

It is good to know we are not alone although reading is a solitary pleasure.
I have been reading various comments re pros/cons of ebooks v paper editions. Although I have no strong opinions on this subject which seems to be causing heated debate (death to small libraries?) I can see the advantage when considering the space required to store weighty tomes, of which I have a number & will I expect one day have to reluctantly part with.

Jun 21, 2010, 12:07 am

# 85...Sounds like you really got yourself a treasure. Isn't it amazing what you can find in a used bookstore?

Jun 21, 2010, 2:45 am

I just found several Folio Society books at a \habitat for humanity store all in great condition.

Jun 21, 2010, 2:05 pm

Along with some generic paperbacks, I found a biography on Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord; Talleyrand; The Art of Survival by Jean Orieux. French history is not my forté, but Talleyrand has always struck me as being a sort of magnificent bastard, more so than even Napoleon Bonaparte, and I'm happy to have found a worthwhile biography on him.

Edited: Jul 27, 2010, 9:51 pm

Many, many finds for which I am grateful - all most as many as things I've let slip away or had priced out of my imagining. Two are worth mentioning:

At my favorite and only local used bookstore: A signed copy of George Sterling's A Wine of Wizardry and Other Poems inscribed to the poet and historian Robert Underwood Johnson, bearing Johnson's bookplate. Johnson apparently revered the book to such a degree that he never dared to cut the pages.

At the Salvation Army: a signed and dedicated copy, with dustjacket, of Portrait of the Assassin, by congressman Gerry Ford (which I would happily sell or trade).

Jul 31, 2010, 6:42 pm

Sounds like to fantastic finds. I haven't been as lucky as you in finding sighned copies, but they are still my treasures.

Aug 3, 2010, 8:14 pm

I have a fantastic used bookshop in my little home town of Aberystwyth called Llyfrau Ystwyth. As well as having a huge, and varied selection I love its the cavern like feel, with it floor to ceiling shelves and narrow little walkways. The owner is always so helpful, and such a interesting guy to chat to. Its a welcome alternative from the busy highstreet chains (Also far better stoked than our local big chain).
If you ever find yourself in Aberystwyth I highly recommend calling in to Llyrau Ystwyth I guarantee you will not feel like a stranger.
Found a copy of Hans W. Cohn With all five senses in there today, it looks to be unread.

Aug 7, 2010, 12:18 am

#92...What is there not to love it a bookshop like the one in your hometown. I don't think we have enough of them around. The smaller bookstores have characture. I have no clue where Aberystwyth is but if I ever pass through I will look for Llyrau Ystwyth.

Aug 7, 2010, 6:30 am

>93 callmejacx: Aberystwyth is in West Wales. There are few good reasons to find yourself here to be honest :)

Oct 14, 2010, 9:19 pm

Last week I found a first edition (I'm pretty sure) of The Adventures of Augie March in the Book Sale room at a small branch library on the western edge of Las Vegas. My mom lives in a retirement home nearby, and I was there for a visit. I always hit that Sale room when I'm in town. This was my best find, yet.

Oct 17, 2010, 10:49 pm

good for you

Oct 17, 2010, 11:01 pm

My father discovered first edition Edgar Rice Burroughs at a rummage sale, but my grandmother got rid of them when he went off to college because she thought they were children's material. He wasn't too happy when he got home and found them missing.

I can't place a finger on any one great find in the used books department. I'm always ecstatic when I find an affordable gem, being now a poor college student, myself.

Oct 17, 2010, 11:07 pm

It's amazing what you can pick up at a goodwill or used book store. They are all treasures.

Oct 18, 2010, 3:24 am

I found a hardcover first edition of Caldwell's "The Devils advocate" with dust jacket($200-300) at my local recycling center for free!

Oct 26, 2010, 12:54 am

Our local Salvation Army has a box of free books where they toss "trash" like Reader's Digest Condensed or books that don't sell. Out of that box I recently pulled a 3rd printing of Peter Pan and Wendy - a very early reprint - "First, second and third editions printed October, 1911." With its original 99 year old dust jacket intact. I really do not care for Peter Pan, just not my taste, and I needed the money - I sold it for $900.

That's my best find. But my most "squee"ish recent find would be a signed copy of Robertson Davies's A Voice from the Attic for $5, on the shelf of a used book store that NEVER sells things cheaply. The kind of store where they insert printouts from Abebooks between the leaves to justify their prices. If they had printed out prices for autographed copies of this book, it would have been a short list ranging from $150-650. Of course, all those have jackets and mine doesn't, but that sort of thing never seems to faze the printers-out of prices. ;)

Oct 29, 2010, 3:01 pm

You did really good for yourself, muumi. I haven't come across finds like that but I did pick up over 50 FREE like new Harliquin Presents novels. They aren't my type of books but I am sure I can find someone who would like to buy them off of me. At least I am hoping to.