$econdhand First Class

A thrift store fanatic shares her shopping secrets

Read for a Song!

Looking for great books at a thrift store is my kind of adventure. There are shelves and shelves, stacks and stacks of romance, sci-fi and fantasy, detective, thriller, nonfiction, and just plain oddball reads. Take your pick and pocket the savings.

Photo: Jeremy Wrenn, morgueFile

Some of the bigger thrift stores organize their books by category. Stores with less labor just shelf or stack the books in any old way. If you visit one of these stores for books, plan lots of time.

If you have more patience than money, you can often find that hot best seller at a thrift store for a fraction of the original selling price pretty quickly after the furor dies down. I got the first three books of the Ice and Fire series for a couple of dollars each. Good thing they were so cheap since the stories were tedious.

Prices vary by region but you can find hardbacks for a couple of dollars and paperbacks for a buck or less.

Books are a pretty safe buy since there are no zippers or plugs or wires to assess but here are ways to spot problems that could detract from your reading pleasure:

  • Eye the book’s edge. If the pages are wavy, the book could have water damage.

    Eye the edges. Straight? Go for it.
    Wavy? Pass.

  • Sniff. If the book smells like a wet basement, pass unless you have your hands on a rare first edition of Huck Finn.
  • Leaf through the pages. Make sure a six-year-old artist has not redecorated the pages with a crayon or an avid reader hasn’t underlined so many sentences the page looks like one of your high school English papers after you got it back from the teacher.

Happy thrifting!


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