I love books. Growing up I was always the ‘bookworm’, and I don’t see signs of that changing any time soon. I even worked in three different bookshops within four years, which was absolute heaven!
Although the bookshops I worked in sold new books, from an environmental point of view, I do not recommend buying brand new books. New books are usually made from new paper, which means millions of trees get chopped down – often from pristine rainforests. Some books use recycled paper, but even then the amount of water, energy and chemicals (such as bleach) required to re-make the paper is colossal.
Instead, here are a few ideas of places you can buy used books, which have virtually no unfavourable environmental effects:
Libraries – what a wonderful concept! To have a whole building dedicated to the free loan of any book you desire…please make greater use of the library(s) in your area. Most libraries are online these days, so check out their website to reserve the book you want.
Used/secondhand bookshops – a book-lovers’ treasure trove; you never know what you’re going to find in a used bookshop, which for me certainly adds to the fun! I carry a list around with me and check these shops whenever I go past…sometimes you find what you’re looking for straight away and sometimes it can take you months or years (which makes it sooo satisfying when you finally do!)
Charity shops – I think this is a resource many people often forget about. Charity shops such as Goodwill or Oxfam don’t usually have as many books as a used bookshop, but the books here are often the very cheapest you’ll find anywhere 🙂
Garage sales – there probably won’t be an entire library for you to choose from, but you never know when someone else’s trash will become your treasure.
Book swapping – If you have a book you no longer want, then why not swap it for one you do? You could organise a book swapping event between your friends or at a school or community hall – make it a fun, social event with drinks and nibbles and invite as many people as you can. Alternatively there are many websites that do the same thing; have a look at this page to find an organisation in your country.
The internet – a very obvious place to buy secondhand books…and as easy as a click of a button! The most well-known site is Amazon, of course, you could also try Used Book Search or AbeBooks. My preferred site is AbeBooks as I really try to avoid supporting Amazon and the books I’ve bought from AbeBooks have always been cheaper than from Amazon. If you’re after a textbook-specific site then try the US-based Bookbyte, or for global alternative try AbeBooks or Sell Student Stuff.
E-books – electronic books are the latest and trendiest way to read. I’ve read plenty of e-books on my computer (as I don’t have an e-reader), but I do prefer an actual book; the feel and the smell of a real book can’t be beaten, and I love to have shelves filled with the books I love and can lend to my friends. But of course electronic books do not cause trees to die or water to be wasted…though making the e-reader requires chemicals and fossil fuels.
What about you – where do you buy your used books from? Are there any fantastic resources out there that I’ve missed?