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second hand books

I buy my books second hand. I want to encourage you to do the same.

Books are massively important for all sorts of reasons. In some form or another, they are what have allowed us to store significant amounts of information for the last 2000 years, at least. They let people spread ideas against the establishment. They let people spread ideas for the establishment (which is important, even if it's not good; how could ideas against the establishment be spread if there wasn't an establishment to fight against?) and they let people express their interest or disenterest in anything.

They let people teach other people how to do new things, they let people articulate their ideas on new discoveries, and they let people record the discoveries they have made about the past. People can write in books about happy things or sad things, they can write beautifully or abrubtly (or both).

The content of books can make people laugh, arouse people, instill in people a sense of indignation. Books have the power to make people think.

Even better, books come without advertisements, they come without tracking, and without planned obsolescence (for the most part). In today's world this is important.

Unfortunately, the way we read is changing, and big corporations are starting to put advertisements and tracking into our books, through the means of ereaders, and more generally through centralised bookstores and data profiles.

When I said at the start that I buy books second hand, I could have been a bit more specific, because Amazon lets me buy second hand books and I want to condemn Amazon. Mostly I buy my books from local charity shops. There's always a copy of the current trending book, as well as the classics, and a large selection of other books that I haven't heard of (but are normally quite good). And the more I go, the more the volunteers at the counter can help to recommend things to me, just like a tracking network, except that they actually care about me enjoying the book rather than just squeezing money out of me.

There's something nice about a new book, crisp and white. But the yellowing pages, the cracked spine, the bent corners of a second hand book feel so much more satisfactory. You know that the book has been loved. The musty scent of love.

Buying books second hand is cheap. It's not cheap because some third-world workers are getting compromised. It's cheap because we live in a world where people always need the new things, the shiny things. We can abuse this and pay less for books, which is always an advantage. If every book that you buy costs half as much second hand as it would new, you can buy twice as many books.

Getting your books from a local second hand store is also pretty good when considering environmental impact. No car journey is necessary to get to the shop (although the donor might have driven), no internet access is needed, and the carbon cost of the book is now split between two people - just like carpooling, bookpooling is helpful.

Buying books second hand is a really easy way to save some money and help to break out of the control of online stores. You should try it.

October 08, 2019