used books and where they come from.

Monday, December 17, 2012

One of my favorite things to do, being a reader, is to go book shopping. I don't do it often though, and when I do, I usually buy online now. A few days ago, though I went to a used bookstore around my area. I was trying to look for a specific gift for someone, and while I was perusing through the titles, I found one book that was exactly what I wanted.

I opened it, and this was what fell on the floor. 

An old receipt from BORDERS! I'm sure most of you remember Borders. It used to be one of my favorite places - until they closed all their stores in the U.S. Anyway, this receipt dates back to November 13, 2008. Same month. Different year.
And it got me wondering about whoever it was that originally bought and owned this book. Why did they sell it at a used bookstore? Was it because they didn't like it? Was it because they didn't have a use for it anymore? It was a Field Guide to Professional Digital Photography book, and it made me wonder also, where are they now? What happened to their interest in Photography? Are they actually professional now? Or what? 

Maybe it sounds stupid that I was thinking all these things, but I couldn't help it. There's just something so intriguing about finding someone else's belongings from a while ago. 
Have you ever found anyone similar to this? And also, if you go to used bookstores, do you ever think about who owned the book/s prior? It may be a silly thought, but it's a thought nonetheless! 

Happy Monday. 


  1. Running a second-hand bookshop, I definitely think about it! I see the guilt sometimes when someone sells a gift that maybe they don't have space for any more, or didn't really like very much. I see the old books of poetry and classics coming through with lovely inscriptions to and from people who are now long gone. There are books so obscure that I wonder who could have bought it in the first place - and who on earth will ever buy it again! You've got me thinking now... :)

    1. Wow, can I run a bookshop too? That would be an amazing job. :) I too wonder about the little messages people put on the pages, wondering where they are at right now. Perhaps it was given by an ex friend or ex anything that they just would rather forget. Haha. It's interesting.

  2. I don't think about the previous owner. Other than to silently thank them when I find one in awesome shape.

    1. :) THAT is so very true. When I pick up a used book that was taken care of, I get so happy.

  3. +JMJ+

    The bulk of my used bookstore purchases is made up of YA and MG novels. And I always wonder about the children who owned the books before I did.

    When I started buying used books, I only picked the ones that were as little "used" as possible. That meant that if I had a choice between two books in equally good condition, one of which had a previous owner's name in it, I'd pick the uninscribed one. I can still remember the day I completely reversed that policy, and the book I bought: The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary, which used to belong to a boy named Matthew Marsden. I like to think I own what New Zealand storekeepers call "pre-loved" books. =)

    Right now, I'm reading a used copy of Little House on the Prairie. It contains the inscription, "1996, Merry Christmas to Kristen, from Grandma". While I'm a little sad that this granddaughter didn't like the book enough to keep it for rereading, I'm pleased that I'm carrying a bit of a literary grandmother's love around with me these days. =)

  4. I love seeing who the former owners are. I sometimes find receipts or book plates or an inscription from someone who gave the book as a gift. I love it!

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  6. I wonder about previous owners of used books, particularly the children's books with messages from the relative who gave the book. I wonder who the kids were and who they grew into.

    I wonder about library books too... who borrowed them, who wrote in them or forgot their bookmark.


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