Written By: Sophie Archambault
I’ve always loved reading. In the third grade, for a “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up” project, I interviewed the local librarian. I feel lost at sea when I don’t have a book-in-progress in my backpack or purse, and my favorite birthday gift is a new hardcover or a Barnes and Noble gift card. But buying books can be expensive! The price of hardcovers often creeps dangerously close to $30, and even most paperbacks cost just under $20. And what to do when your shelves inevitably get overwhelmed and you need to clear space? Enter our hero: the second (or third or fourth) hand book. There are many places to buy, sell, and donate used books. Below are some of my favorites:
1. The Raven
Top of my list is The Raven, a used bookstore with not one but two locations in Massachusetts. Though my personal preference is for the Northampton location, the Cambridge shop in Harvard Square is also a good option if you’re in the area.
2. Book Barn
Niantic’s Book Barn is a reader’s paradise with a unique setup. There is the eponymous barn, of course with three floors of packed shelving, but the property also has numerous outbuildings and stands connected by winding paths and fairy gardens. They also have goats and cats on the property and two other branch locations in Niantic.
3. Better World Books
My sister introduced Better World Books, an online used book site, to me a few years ago and I’ll never buy books from Amazon again. Better World Books rescues books that would otherwise be destined for the landfill and re-sells them or recycles them if they don’t get sold. For every book you buy from their site, they donate one to a person in need. They also have an option for carbon-neutral shipping and frequently have deals to save even more money on your already inexpensive haul!
4. The Strand
New York City’s Strand is well-known for the sheer volume of books they carry. According to their website, they currently house 2.5 million books, both used and new. Though I’ve only been once, I highly recommend it sheerly for the experience of getting lost in the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. When I visited in the summer, used books were on rolling shelves on the sidewalk outside as well as inside the store.
5. Look Locally
You don’t have to travel far to find or donate used books! Of course, you can search sites like Better World Books from the comfort of your home, but you can also find physical used books nearby. Many libraries collect and sell used books or host used book sales with generalized pricing, so you don’t pay more than a dollar or two for any book, no matter the condition or publication date. Also, check to see if your town or one nearby has any Little Free Libraries, where anyone can drop off and pick up books for free.