What treasures have you found at used book stores or Goodwill?
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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!
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
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.
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.
Maybe because I live in Portland where everyone is obsessed with recycling, but to think of throwing away perfectly good books -- CRAZY!
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.
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.
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.
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
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. :)
Thanks for all suggestions!
Interesting read, very slow going.
The Master Puppeteer and Park's Quest by Katherine Paterson
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
The Golden Ocean by Patrick O'Brian
Strunk and White's Elements of Style
The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren
Sherwood by Parke Godwin
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
The Witches by Roald Dahl
Several John Grisham books
Constantine by Frank G. Slaughter
And some others I can't remember at the moment. All for $4.
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!
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.
I love finding old books with inscriptions inside, don't you?
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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)?
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.
I'm going to a big library sale this Wednesday. Counting the days...
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.
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.
The volumes I found are:
The Rise and Fall of Cesar Birotteau
A Daughter of Eve
Muse of the Department
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.
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.
I would love to be able to visit the places Makifat and Hailelib have visited.
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.
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
*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.
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!
#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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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. ;)