From Where I Sit – don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Regular readers of FWIS know I’m a voracious reader. Regular patrons of any retail bookstore know reading is an expensive pastime. That’s why I’m thrilled to get books at more affordable prices.

Costco is great for new books at reduced prices. The selection is limited to Oprah titles, popular fiction, and some non-fiction. I’ve gotten some great travel guides, decorating books, art and anatomy books. Will they have Craig Ferguson’s memoir, American on Purpose? Probably not, yet It’s one I want to own.

The best deals on used books are found at thrift stores. And some of those are better than others. The Salvation Army has the best prices but the poorest selection. There is little attempt at organization so It’s a challenge to find the coveted title. Goodwill does a good job sorting books by genre. Within the fiction section they sort the books alphabetically by author! Amen. I always thank the shelf stocker to let her know her efforts are appreciated. Value Village has a good selection but higher prices. While I’m not impressed by their prices, four bucks for a book (if you can’t get it elsewhere for less) is still a deal.

Recently, Liquidation World was clearing out new hardcover and paperback books?for 50 cents a title! Granted there weren’t any big-name authors or bestsellers in the bunch but for readers of women’s fiction or mysteries it was cause for celebration. Let’s just say I didn’t leave empty-handed.

Independent used-book stores tend to sell at half of retail and can be a great source for obscure titles.

Buying second-hand means You’re bringing home the provenance of the item. Some believe the aura of the previous owner remains, particularly with jewellery. With books some are in better condition than others. How badly I want a certain title determines how picky I become. Some books are simply too shabby or dirty to buy. Others are so pristine you wonder if they have been opened.

Lately I’ve begun collecting the items I find in these used books. The most unusual was a $180.95 income tax refund cheque from 2003 for a woman in Whitehorse. It was tucked into a copy of The Writer’s Mentor. The scariest thing was a Visa receipt dated September 28, 1995, with the full credit card number, expiry date, and signature of the owner! This was obviously from a more trusting time before identity theft and credit card fraud became the national pastime.

A recent article in the Edmonton Journal detailed some of the items found by Edmonton’s independent used-book store owners. The most intriguing was a book of poetry with its interior cut out to accommodate a whiskey bottle. Others included plane tickets, a Polaroid of a nude, a Do Not Resuscitate order, photos, love letters, hemp leaves, and pressed flowers. The saddest was money squirreled away by an Alzheimer’s patient.

All proof positive that you can’t judge a book by its cover, from where I sit.