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Article: Four Reasons Why You Need Secondhand Books in Your Life

Four Reasons Why You Need Secondhand Books in Your Life

Four Reasons Why You Need Secondhand Books in Your Life

You buy a new book, crack open its spine and take a whiff. Ahh, it’s that ‘new book’ smell that you and everyone else loves. The smell of words waiting to leap out of their pages and into your mind. A smell of promise and a few hours of relaxation.

I totally get it. I am a huge fan of new books myself and there was a point whenI was buying a couple of books every time I stepped into Kinokuniya’s flagship outlet at Ngee Ann City. That amounted to almost $100 each visit, which I soon realised was unsustainable for the wallet of a student who wasn’t earning any regular income.

I had to look for an alternative. While I enjoyed visiting the public library, I still wanted to own my books so that I could eventually build a cool private library that I could brag about to anyone who would listen.

This brought me to the world of secondhand books, which I’ve found are better than brand new paperbacks from Kinokuniya or Book Depository. Allow me to extol some of the virtues of secondhand books for a bit so that I win you over to the greener pastures that secondhand books afford…

Photo of letterboard - text on letterboard detailing the dates of our $1 book saleYou can even get books for $1 during our monthly $1 book sale!

#1 Secondhand books are less expensive 

This is probably one of the biggest selling points of secondhand books. We all know inflation is getting crazier these days and it might mean that you have to cut back on anything that isn’t essential. (Not that books aren’t essential, but that’s an argument for another day.) However, that doesn’t mean you have to stop buying books altogether. 

If you can’t kick that book buying habit – who can? – then secondhand books are the way to go. You can cop most secondhand books for anywhere below $20 in Singapore. In fact, you can probably get more than one book with a $20 budget so need I say more?

Look at that character! Photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash


#2 Secondhand books have that je ne sais quoi

While new books can feel fresh and clean, secondhand books usually come with some slight foxing or dog-eared pages. I used to have a problem with that, but I’ve found that over time, the slight imperfections matter less than they used to. It’s these imperfections that make a secondhand book seem like it’s full of indescribable flavour, the stains and creases serving as reminders that books age like fine wine.

Anyway, in Singapore’s heat and humidity, any book, even one that’s fresh out of its packaging, will fox after a while so you might as well save yourself the heartache and get one that already looks a little used.

Annotated page of a book with an old photo between pages
Annotations add to the flavour of a book and help you learn too! (Photo by Jason Wong on Unsplash)


#3 Secondhand books are valuable educational tools

Have you opened up a secondhand book only to find that at least half of it has been annotated by its previous owner, who probably used it to study for some exam? I’m here to tell you that that’s not always a bad thing! All these highlights and notes are especially useful if you’re struggling to understand the content of a book. Instead of trying to get it on your own, just be a freeloader and rely on someone else’s notes to help you out. You can even interact with their notes and allow them to develop your own informed opinion of what you’re reading! There’s truly no better way to look and feel like an intellectual than having a book that’s heavily annotated.


#4 Secondhand books are great for the environment

As much as everyone loves physical books, it is a fact that a lot of resources go into making them and that means there’s plenty of waste produced in the process. By purchasing secondhand books instead of new ones, you can actively take part in the circular economy that seeks to maximise the life cycle of any product. The best part is that once you’re done reading, you can always give it to someone else or donate the book again so that it can find a new lease of life with another owner. If it ain’t broke, don’t throw it away – use it and pass it on again!


Need a secondhand book fix? Books Beyond Borders has your back. RSVP to visit us at The Book Barracks or check out our collection online. You can help add to our collection by donating your preloved books to us too! 

All proceeds from our book sales go towards funding education in Nepal. Do reach out to us if you have any questions!


- Cherry Tan

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