Nothing beats the feeling of picking up a new book for the first time. We shouldn't judge books by their cover, but it is still hard to resist the feel of a physical print book. And this is reflected in the 10-year high in sales for new UK books.
Here Are the Best Second-Hand Alternatives to Buying New Books Online and In-store
Environmental Impact of Books
It's important to consider the environment when it comes to building our personal libraries.
Did you know that 212m print books were sold in the UK in 2021? That's around 3 new books per person per year. Even with people reading this very modest amount of books it still amounts to over new 200 million books. That's a lot of paper!
But so long as books are being read and enjoyed, it's okay right? Well, sadly that is not the case, with lots of books getting chucked out. This isn't just the fault of readers, though. Publishers turn as many as 77 million unsold books a year into pulp. And even retailers like Amazon have been sending deadstock and returns (including books) to landfill.
With so many books going to waste, we need to vote with our pounds and support our local bookstores. Or you can shop using sites that use print on demand services.
The Ultimate Way to Read Sustainably
The most sustainable way to read books is to make use of a public library. This is because you are effectively sharing all those books with local residents. At the same time you're also helping to support one of the few public spaces where you can sit and make use of services for free.
Getting to a library might not be easy for you. Or you may prefer to keep your own shelves stock up for whatever reason. In this case, second-hand books still provide a sustainable way to enjoy reading. When you buy preloved, you cut out the need for new materials. It is usually much cheaper, or even free if you find a local book swap near you or online. And when you're done you can pass it on again.
Buying Second-Hand CAN Support Authors, Too
You can even still support the authors you love by buying from selected second-hand book sites. The authors still get royalties thanks to a special scheme. Read more about this below!
There are so many ways to shop for second-hand books near you. Let's explore the options.
Where to Shop Second-Hand Books Online and in Person
World of Books, WOB and Bookbarn International
Every time you buy an author's book they will be paid up to a cap of £1,000 a year. This isn't a huge figure, but AuthorSHARE is a world first for second-hand books.
Second-Hand Books on eBay
You can still support organisations that make a difference by shopping for books on Ebay. This includes some of the sellers involved in the eBay for change programme, which includes B-Corps, social enterprises, as well as charities.
Green Heart Collective
It would be rude not to plug our very own online and physical bookstore! We sell over 820 books on eBay, as part of the eBay for change programme. Explore our selection, there's something for everyone.
You can pop into your nearest Oxfam branch, or shop online. Perfect if you're looking to pick up a holiday read from the comfort of your home.
Better World Books
Better World Books have donated over 32 million books and have reused or recycled over 395 million more. Founded by college friends Xavier and Kreece, this online book reselling platform grew from humble beginnings. Now they're working with international non-profit organisations like Books for Africa and Feed the Children.
Originally starting out as a price comparison website for books, Biblio launched as a marketplace in 2003. Their three bottom line benchmarks for company success are achieving profit, serving people and preserving the environment. A local bookstore on a global scale.
Five friends started this alternative online bookshop, which was founded in 2012. It now ships worldwide to over 100 countries, still with a relatively modest team of 25 staff. As part of their operations they partner with national literacy charities as well as supporting schools to help promote the love of reading.
We haven't included much about ebooks in this guide, as we're mainly focusing on where to find good quality second hand print books online. You might reading books on your phone, tablet or other screen though, so we thought it was prudent to include Ebooks.com in our humble guide. Launched in 2000, Ebooks.com now has over 2.2 million ebooks to choose from.
Find your Local Bookstore!
It is great to sell the growth of online book stores like WOB, Bilbio and Better World Books who strive to make more than just profit, but to actually help people and planet with their business.
But equally we must not forget about the physical book stores near us. Find your nearest independent book shop. There are lots of them around and are well worth seeking out.
Local bookshops can be full of character and there is something magical in the way you can get lost in thumbing through all kinds of books.
Here's What to Do With Unwanted Second-Hand Books
Finished your books and need to find them a new home? The easiest way to move your books on is to ask friends, family and colleagues if they would like them.
Failing that, look up the nearest second-hand book store to you. Or maybe your nearest charity shop. Donating your old books mean they can have a whole new life rather than being stuck on your shelf. And dropping them off can save the hassle than having to individually list them online.