Don't Build a Boring Personal Library!
Nothing sucks the life out of a living space faster than perfection. When you see a photo of a home library with perfectly arranged books in perfect condition do you ever wonder if the occupants actually read books or if their interior designer simply bought books by the yard for decorative effect? Being surrounded by brand new books neatly arranged by topic is great if you are shopping at a Barnes and Noble book store, but it comes across as a bit cold and enjoyed impersonal in a home environment.
I love new books and would buy a new book in great condition over one that looks like it was run over by a bus. However, I believe that a mix of new and used books books makes for a much more interesting home library. Older books have a certain patina, that hints at a history with plenty of interesting stories and ideas shared with an unknown reader. For a unique personal library that’s truly one of a kind, add a few discontinued books into the mix.
The best way to build your one of a kind home library is to shop a variety of places and shop often. Some of the best places to shop for used and discontinued books online are ebay.com and amazon.com. Amazon sells tons of merchandise through independent sellers so there is a good chance they have that rare volume you have been looking for. Prices and availability are constantly changing, both on eBay and Amazon so check ebay.com against amazon.com to see where you can get the best deals.
Shopping online is ideal if you know the exact title you are looking for and can instantly sort through the millions of irrelevant books by simply typing in the right title. The only thing online shopping lacks is the element of surprise. There is a special thrill in browsing at a used book store like Half Price Books and discovering a great book that you never knew existed. It’s the book lovers version engaging in a treasure hunt and scoring a great prize.
The most exciting book finds are when you discover a rare used or discontinued book in places where the selection is unpredictable and random. Library book sales and thrift stores are two of the places where I have scored some pretty interesting books at some pretty cheap prices. At thrift store I found a book on collectible cameras that was so old it didn’t even mention digital cameras. At the annual library book sale I have found some great older and discontinued books. Shopping at library book sales and thrift stores is very hit or miss, mostly miss. To score books worthy of adding to your personal library it helps to shop these hit or miss options often.
Libraries are also wonderful places to preview books that you might want to buy later. Since they carry both new and older copies of books on just about every topic, you are sure to find titles worth adding to your collection. Simply check out the library books you are interested in, live with them for a few weeks, then return them. If you find yourself longing to own a book you returned or renewing a title so often it spends more time in your home that at the local library, it's time to buy your own copy online. Wherever you shop for books, the thrill of the hunt often provides just as much pleasure as the book itself.