New Books, Second-hand Books or Ebooks?

29/07/2015 Discussions, Reading 22

New books, Second-hand books or Ebooks?Like many bookworms, I love new books: the shiny, unmarred cover, the uncracked spine, the crisp white pages just waiting to spill their secrets, and of course, that delicious fresh print smell. At the same time, the yellowed, well-thumbed pages of a second-hand book has its own charm. Someone else has already enjoyed its story, already turned those pages, and in a way it’s nice to think about that (so long as they haven’t left any questionable stains on the pages!).

So do you prefer new or old books, or a bit of a mixture? Or do you only read ebooks?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each:

New Books


  • They look pretty and new – they aren’t yellowed, damaged or stained.
  • They’re always the latest edition.
  • If there are various covers you get to choose (so you can opt to not have the movie tie-in edition, because for some reason I hate those!).


  • They cost more.
  • Once you’ve read it it’s no longer new – it’s just another used book you’ve paid more for.

Second-hand books


  • They’re cheaper.
  • They have more character and a history.
  • Sometimes the random covers you get on them when you order online are hilarious. Just saying!


  • They are often damaged, yellowed, worn or creased.
  • Sometimes the random covers are hideous. Or scary. You should see my second hand copy of Dracula – I actually couldn’t sleep with it on my bedside table!



  • They’re cheaper.
  • You can read them on various devices.
  • No one can see what you’re reading (perfect for when you’re reading the latest YA dystopian novel in your English class instead of the work of Charles Dickens!).


  • They aren’t actual books. This isn’t a problem for some people, but for me it is. I love everything about books: the feel, the smell, the experience…you just don’t get that with ebooks.

So how about you? Do you prefer new books, second-hand books or ebooks?

22 Responses to “New Books, Second-hand Books or Ebooks?”

  1. Killian

    While I do love buying a pristine new book, really they’re just too expensive. I discovered a great secondhand bookshop a few weeks ago and now I only buy from there. They have a great selection and the two times I’ve been there I’ve left with three secondhand books for the price of one new one. Secondhand bookshops are also nearly always independent, so I feel like I’m supporting actual Irish business when I shop there.

    I’m not really a huge e-book fan. I use my Kindle on holidays, just because it’s useful, but really I prefer everything about books. I prefer the experience of browsing in a bookshop and I prefer supporting local business, as opposed to the massive global giant. Also secondhand books are generally a similar price to e-books.

    • Laura

      Even though I do love browsing through bookshops like Waterstones etc., the experience of a second-hand book shop is just so much better. Plus, as you say, you can get several books for the price of one brand new one. I buy most of mine off Ebay though, which is good because you get them cheap, but it is so annoying having to wait for them to come when you just want to read them! It is definitely a good feeling though to be supporting small and/or local businesses.
      Even though ebooks are quite cheap, I always feel like I haven’t really got anything for my money because I can’t actually hold it in my hand, so I would much rather pay the same price for a second-hand copy.

  2. Elizabeth

    You left off library books. I don’t buy books, so library are my favorite. I find the pros and cons the same, though. I am often the first to check the book out and get the pleasure of something new, and with a classic I will find notes written in the book or slips of paper, which makes me think about previous owners. In the last six months, I’ve discovered the pros of e-books, which I can also get at the library. For review purposes, they are the best because of the ability to highlight and take notes so easily, as well as look things up fast with the internet connection. If I can’t get a book from the library I’ll buy it as an ebook since I also don’t want books cluttering up my already cluttered house.
    Here’s what’s weird though…I want publishers to send me “real” books because I feel like it means I am more worthy than an ebook. But I try to hold back on that feeling.

    • Laura

      I had forgotten about library books! I haven’t been to the library in years, but I have been meaning to start going again. Most of my books are ones I have bought second hand off the internet for very cheap prices, which is probably why I always forget about the library. The clutter thing is definitely an issue though, because I had a clear out not to long ago, and I’m now overrun with books again! That’s one of the reasons I really wish I could get more into reading ebooks (plus, as you say, it’s so easy to take notes!), but for some reason I just find it harder to get into a book if it’s digital.
      And I definitely get where you’re coming from with the publisher thing!

      • Elizabeth the Evil Overlord

        Try reading 3 in a row digitally and you may develop a like or habit. Also, September is national library card month. You could do a book a week from the library. I always check the library before I buy.

  3. Silvara

    All of the above? *laughs*

    In general, I like getting new books. Especially if it’s an author or series I know I’m going to love. I like the idea of the pretty covers and unmarred pages. Love knowing no one else has abused the book or left suspect stains. And with new books, if I end up not liking the book much for some crazy reason, I can always donate it to my library. I’d feel odd doing that with a used book unless it was in really good condition.

    This year I’ve been buying a lot of eBooks though. Both because the book has been cheaper that way, and also because it’s easier to set my Kindle aside at work to answer the phone, or put faxed info into the computer, than it is to stop and mark my place THEN set the book down before doing actual work. Faster too.

    I do buy used books, but only when I can look them over before buying. I’m picky, so they can’t have stains, torn pages, or look too abused. Or I won’t buy them. The only local bookstore is a used one, and while I like browsing around in there (they have a resident cat!!) their prices are fairly high for a used bookstore. A lot of the time I can get the book for less if I buy it as an eBook instead of at the used bookstore. So I primarily buy replacement books for well-loved ones on my shelves that are falling apart. Since the covers I’ve gotten used to and like best are older, it’s usually easier to get the same one at a used bookstore.

    And there I go writing a novel again. Sorry! *laughs*

    • Laura

      I guess if it’s a book, it kind of doesn’t matter!
      Personally I think I would always prefer a brand new book, although most of mine are actually second-hand (I’m a bit of an eBay addict!). It is annoying when you pay full price for a book though and don’t like it, and you’re right it feels better to donate them if they are in better condition.
      There really are so many pros to ebooks, definitely more than I’ve listed here, so I really wish I could get into reading them more. It sounds like your Kindle is ideal for your job!
      I pretty much always buy my second hand books online, but I try and go for ones that say they are in good condition, or new condition, as opposed to acceptable. I’m not too picky with mine, but I can see why people would be. It’s nice to have books that look nice!
      Thanks for leaving such a lovely long comment! 🙂

  4. emily @ for the bookish

    This is a great post. Honestly, I can rule out e-books right off the bat because I mainly use my e-reader for ARC’s and the occasional book I find that’s 99 cents or free. (Because HELLO, cheap books! Yesss.) I don’t mind it, but it’s not my favorite. As for new or used books, I like both. I love brand-new books, because anything “new” is always nice. However, I love owning books, and if I can own them for a much cheaper price, then I’ll definitely take it. I do love thinking about the person who owned the book before me… I’ve donated my books to used bookstores, and like thinking about who they’ll be going to. 🙂

    • Laura

      I have bought a few ebooks myself when they have been really cheap (yay! cheap books!), but for some reason I always seem to forget about them when they’re on my Kindle, and I don’t seem to remember what I’ve read as well (which is pretty weird!).
      I definitely love having new books, but not as much is I like saving money, which is why a lot of my books are second-hand. I have donated books before, and I do love the thought of someone else getting my book, as I do often wonder about who owned my second-hand books before me. 🙂

  5. Emily Bates

    I love new books, but I mostly only get those when I have a birthday. Used books are wonderful because I can buy four or five (or more!) for the price of one new book. As for ebooks, I only get free books that way to read on the rare occasion that I don’t have a physical book with me. Not a huge fan of ebooks, but they’ll do in a pinch. 🙂

    • Laura

      There is definitely something really satisfying about getting several books for the price of one new book! I’m the same with ebooks though – if I have nothing else they’ll do, but as a general rule I don’t really read them.

  6. Lola

    I prefer new books, even though there is also something about a second hand book, they always feel a bit gross to me. Not sure why, but the thought that so many other people already read it freaks me out a bit. And I prefer to keep my books in pristine conditions, with no cracks in the spine and such. If I can find a second hand book that looks like new though, I might give it a try. I have once bought a few second hand manga’s in great condition and read them.
    Nowadays I mostly read ebooks and I love them, they are cheap and easy to store (they take up less shelving space). I also love how my e-reader feels like the book and holds so much books on one device and it’s great for when you go on vacation and only have to take your e-reader. I never though I would enjoy ebooks, until I gave it a try. And it’s handy for review copies, as I never get physical copies for review. Once in while though i stil appreciate reading a phsyical copy.

    • Laura

      I love when I manage to get second-hand books that look new, and usually when I do it’s through Amazon, or I find books on Ebay that say they are in good, or new condition. I can kind of see though why people might be a little squeamish about second-hand books, although personally it doesn’t bother me.
      Ebooks are so convenient I really wish I could just start reading them, but I just like having the book, and I find it harder to get engrossed in the book for some reason when I’m reading off a screen. No idea why!

    • Laura

      Each to their own! Personally I don’t mind second-hand books, but I would always prefer a new book – I just prefer used book prices!

    • Laura

      Those are the best! I have ordered used books off the internet a few times and when they’ve turned up they look brand new. 🙂

  7. hillary roberts

    Ever since I got my Kindle my reading has been mostly digital. I don’t really have a preference. I just like having all my books with me so I never run out of reading material.

  8. Natalie @ Flowers in my Books

    I’m a sucker for new books! Although I do wince at the thought of paying full price for something that I might not enjoy.

    But shopping for Second-Hand books is something that I love to do! Especially in charity shops as you can find some real gems. (i.e. I went to Scotland this past week and I bought home 9 books and hardly spend £15)

    • Laura

      That is a major drawback of new books – you can spend a lot on them and then not like them!
      Wow! 9 books for less than £15 is a bargain! That’s what I love so much about buying second hand books 🙂

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