For many years, I have collect old books. It has become one of my most treasured “take time for me” hobbies. I usually take a weekend trip to my favorite second-hand bookstore as soon as it opens and fill my cart with beautiful, old books.
We recently added library shelf come to our dining room and a separate children’s library upstairs in our house.
I’ve been collecting more than usual, and I thought it would be fun to share some of my affordable second-hand book collection tips.
Why old books?
One of my first part-time jobs in college was at a used bookstore. I liked everything about the experience, but especially the way the books were sorted and looked through. When we moved to Nashville, I had very few books, and when we added floor-to-ceiling bookshelfI decided to specifically shop for the rainbow books.
It’s both a design statement and a way to bring more fun into our homes. I spent over a year buying books and amassing a huge collection of books on topics that inspire me: gardening, rocks and minerals, interpretation of dreams, naming babies (haha, I love school-age baby name books), decor and craft.
First, I admit, I’ve been more focused on collecting by color to fill my shelves. Over time, I must have changed by immersing myself because now reading is one of my top hobbies.
For that reason, I strongly recommend filling your house with books whether you think you’ll finish them or not—it could change your life!
Used books are affordable (I usually buy books for 25 cents!) and sustainable.
My favorite thing about old books is the sense of history. I am currently reading an old copy of Harry Potter with a little girl’s name written in large letters on the side pages.
I am also obsessed with a Tarot reference book that I have full of handwritten notes that look like my grandmother’s.
I love little gifts from the past! Every now and then, I buy an old book with the library card still in it… so special!
Best place to buy used books?
My favorite place to shop is a big second-hand bookstore in Nashville (McKay’s if you’re local!). I also always check the books section of any thrift store or flea market I visit, although I don’t usually stop just to check out books.
Sell real estate is a great resource. Since all the books come from one’s home, they often have entire collections on certain topics. I recently landed a bunch of art books along with easels and old oil paintings at a real estate sale.
When it comes to online shopping, I buy most of my books from Savings book. I joked with Emma that I was probably about to get a certificate in the mail saying I was their number one customer.
I also buy quite a few books on eBay. I find eBay to be the best place to search the entire collection. I collect Nancy Drew, Goosebumps, American girls books, and quite a few other nostalgic series that I read as a child.
Do you really read your books?
This is what people always ask me. I think for some people, seeing a large home library seems wasteful or even selfish. I do not agree with that view.
While I will probably never get the chance to read every single book in our home, I think of reading as a lifestyle and an endeavor that should never be wasted.
There are many valuable books in the house Even if you haven’t read them yet. It changed my life! I’ve gone from not being very interested in reading to reading one book almost every week over the past few years. And I wonder if the rainbow book collection will make a difference for me?
For our children’s library, I hope that having access to a wide variety of books will help my child fall in love with reading. I don’t want to push them too hard, but I do hope that having the books right there helps spark their interest. Crossed fingers!
I also collect a lot of non-fiction books that support my interests (painting, ceramics, crafts, interior design, and we have a large cookbook collection).
These books are used very often, whether for reference or just looking through them for inspiration.
Collecting books by theme
I recommend relying on your personal interests and passions when collecting books. Above you can see my collection of ghost books. It’s so special to me and I LOVE it. I add to it all the time.
I love spooky and supernatural themes, so I collect books that feed my obsession. I also collect books on witches, vampires, card reading, dream interpretation, and aura reading.
Tips for collecting a series of movies
As I mentioned above, I collect a lot of stories for our children’s library. If you want to skip the business of collecting a series of movies from time to time, I recommend checking out eBay for complete sets.
If you don’t mind spending time searching for books, I recommend creating a checklist that you keep in your wallet or on your phone so it’s always with you. I’m slow to collect some of my sets and have been working on them for over a year.
If you try to collect a bunch of articles without a checklist, you’ll end up buying a lot of copies, so be sure to find a method that works for you!
This is my Harry Potter collection. I have collected cardboards over the past year and then used them suitable for dust cover to turn them into a shiny new set.
I really hope this encourages some of you to start collecting old books. Let me know if you have any questions— I’d be happy to chat in the comments.
For more inspiration, check out Emma’s favorite books about self-help and happiness and follow us on IG where we often hold book discussions. xx- Elsie