I like to buy used books. Thrift stores and yard sales and flea markets are great places to find them. They sit there in stacks or in old cardboard boxes that smell of age and dust. I pick then up and look at them, they are often very old but untouched, except for the touch to put them aside wothout reading them.
Why do people buy them in the first place? Books have a certain feel when they are opened for the first time. The older ones fairly snap when the spine is first used, newer books jsut have a sort of firmness that defies description. Not stiff, yet not falling open as though they have been doing yoga. With an ease of motion that is almost lifelike.
I love books. They have been my truest friends since I learned to read. A book is always the same, sure they age and they look older but inside, where the words are, they live on as sure as dawn. The same words as the first time through.
So I look at them on the thrift store shelves and I see an egaging title and grab it, it is still smooth and unmarked. There is a dust jacket that shows no sign of ever being folded out. The pages are snow white and crisply unlined as the day it was boxed up for shipment. Pristine is a good way to describe them. Forty years old and as new and pure as a virgin snowfall. If the book means nothing to you then why buy it in the first place?
There are others, they lie about in various states of disrepair. They are a little moldy and smell dank and aged. There are spot in the spine that are unsewn and loose, corners that show wear and use and love. Thumb prints on pages that smear the words on the page. I see them and wonder, how could you part with a trusted old friend in such a cold and unfeeling way?
I suppose it doesn't really matter though. Sometimes I get lucky and I find a Huxley in with the romance novels or Steinbeck in between two Tom Clanceys.
I will love those old books forever, the older the better.