How to Find Used Books, Part Two: In Person
August 12, 2003 (Updated July 16, 2008)
Like many lifelong readers, I find the tactile pleasure of handling books almost irresistible. Tracking them down online can be fun, but discovering them in person is an adventure.
Your first stop should be your local library, of course. Take an afternoon to explore, but don't be discouraged if the sci-fi/fantasy shelves are bare (or non-existent). Even in rural areas, many libraries have been modernized by the internet. If your local branch doesn't have a copy of the book you're looking for, ask about inter-library loans. If the book is anywhere in participating library systems, they can get it for you. Some will gladly give you a call when the book comes in, or even deliver it for a fee.
And don't forget library book sales. Keep an eye on the local newspaper or library bulletin board for announcements. The sales may be humble affairs, held in school cafeterias or meeting halls, but they're just as likely to yield book-hunting prizes as any other venue. One recent library sale had boxes full of hardcover science-fiction novels for 50¢ a piece.
Used book stores are the next stop—for those of us lucky enough to live in an area that has them. For those who don't, you may have to do some traveling to find them. Check the phone book, ask your librarian, and get to know other book lovers in your area. When you do find a store, ask the employees or owner if there are others nearby. It almost seems counterintuitive, but they've always happily given me directions. In fact, all the book stores in one particular city carried a pamphlet with addresses, phone numbers, and hours of all the local book stores.
Overstock sales seem to be a relatively new phenomenon, generally taking place in vacant shop-fronts and malls. They don't often have older titles, but newer ones are in ample supply—especially remaindered hardcovers—so keep an eye out for their advertising fliers.
Other unusual places to find good deals on books are yard sales, church rummage sales, flea markets, thrift shops, auctions, and even farmer's markets (that's where my partner found a copy of Gael Baudino's Dragonsword—a book I'd never even heard of before).
I've lived in rural, suburban, and urban areas across the United States. Even in the most isolated locales I was able to find books when I went looking for them. It isn't always easy, but the thrill of discovery is the same: books are meant to be read, so they are meant to be found—online, at the library, or tucked away on a dusty book-store shelf.
© Finder | GLBT Fantasy Fiction Resources | 2003