Secondhand, But Make It *Books*

WRITTEN BY Andrea Beyer Fraile

July 30, 2022

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Secondhand, But Make It *Books*

Andrea Beyer Fraile

30 Jul, 2022

Calling all bookworms…

Bibliomaniac, definition: someone with a passionate enthusiasm for collecting and possessing books. If you find yourself relating to that statement a little, or a lot, we’re about to save you some serious cash – all while helping our lovely planet, too.

Gradually transforming my humble book collection into a miniature, bedroom library is something I, like many fellow bookworms, take a serious amount of pleasure in. However, it’s a hobby (more like an addiction, let’s call a spade a spade) that can be rather costly, and one that’s undeniably harmful to our environment. The publishing industry demands huge amounts of, well, paper, and water too; a combination that results in a massive carbon footprint. For reference, the production of one book requires approximately 2 kilowatt hours of fossil fuel as well as around 7.5kg of carbon dioxide. One solution often presented to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint, is to replace paperbacks and hardbacks with virtual books. While this idea is nothing to disregard, something you and I both know all too well, is that these ebooks don’t always satisfy our bibliomaniac needs. For one, they don’t exactly allow you to physically chuck a book across the room when you just don’t want to know what happens on the next page – unless you want a smashed screen and a bill for a few hundred quid, that is. Also, the tears you do shed when that page is turned and your favourite character is going through it don’t leave a nostalgic watermark on a tablet screen.

Cue: secondhand books. The solution to the all the aforementioned issues, and the method I turned to and never looked back. You can appreciate physical copies, while reducing the effect paperbacks and hardbacks have on the environment. Now, I know there’s often a misconception that used books are dirty and in poor condition, but I don’t find this to be the case. Let’s look to two secondhand bookshops I stumbled upon, one in Dublin and one in London, for some inspiration.


Chapters Bookstore, Dublin

A fairly typical bookshop at first, with new books and bestsellers at the front, but go a little deeper and you’ll find their secret secondhand section in the back. There, an abundance of books from all genres, decades and countries lies in an area designed to ensure these books get just as much attention and are presented exactly as the newer editions are. The store has also launched an initiative to encourage the reuse and recycling of books, enabling customers to return their purchase for credit that can be exchanged for more books within 30 days. We love to see it. I picked up a few wonders myself, namely; Milkman by Anna Burns, The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris and The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. Each book cost me €5.99 and their condition was immaculate – in my opinion, you wouldn’t even know someone had owned the book previously. Not that that bothers me, I can appreciate a nostalgic tear mark here and there.


Any Amount of Books, London

This one had the traditional secondhand bookstore ‘look’, like an old-worldly savannah situated right in the heart of a fast-paced metropolis. Once inside, there are multiple rooms filled with secondhand books of every discipline and theme imaginable. When shopping for secondhand books, and for anything secondhand for that matter, would be to practice patience. There’s a lot of browsing involved and it can be an extremely time consuming and painstaking process, but there’s no better feeling than uncovering a gem at the end of a long search, so it’s certainly worthwhile. While there, I came across The Good Soldier, purchased it for £4 and it remained practically glued to my palms for the remainder of the trip. I was literally unable to put the novel down. Fair warning, it’s a heartbreaker.

Buying secondhand books has allowed me to grow my small, but mighty collection without contributing to any harm towards our environment. Also, it inspired me to let go of the books I don’t absolutely adore and make space for those I collect, that I do. Oh, and I’ve saved a pretty penny as a result of switching to the world of pre-loved, which always helps sweeten the deal.



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