Aged Pages: Used Bookstores and Why We Love Them (an Introduction)

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I mentioned last week that I was in the process of brainstorming a new series. I’ve thought about it, I’ve mentally listed some future posts, and I’d like to share with you all what’s in store for you.

This series simply put will be about used bookstores. You can call them second-hand, used, pre-owned (like a glorified car dealership would), or really whatever you’d like. Used books have become a passion of mine over the years for many reasons. My collection is made up of mainly used books. It’s not only kept my wallet slightly more happy because I’ve gotten more books for my bucks. It’s also given many of these books a second home. A loving home. A home which they won’t leave for a long time, all while being surrounded by other amazing books.

For this introduction to the series I’d like to share a little of my history with books and the start of my used bookstore “obsession.”

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For most of my life I’ve had books. I wasn’t always a reader though. As a kid, I read a bit, but never really wanted to read until I discovered the Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate. I read almost the entire series and got much of these from book fairs at my school.

Then as I got a little older I (for some reason I don’t know) shied away from reading. I think it was mainly due to the required reading in middle school. Like many other students I despised being forced to read and having ideas about the books forced on me without any room for my own thought.

Like my change from a reader to non-reader, my change back to avid reader was a sudden one. This is because of a few visits to my local used bookstore. I don’t remember the exact day that I “discovered” it, though that’d be cool to place a date on it. I do know that I was probably there because my mom worked part-time doing online cataloging and selling for them. This was around my freshmen year of high school.

One day while I was in there I found a 1932 prose translation of The Odyssey. I think this was one of my first purchases at the store. My main reason for buying it was because it was from 1932. At the time it was my oldest book. And only the first in budding collection of older books. I was drawn in by the discolored hardcover. My nose fell in love with the dusty smell of its old age and travels. The rough cut of the pages also made this book stand out to me. It brought to mind another time. A time when books weren’t always the perfect cookie-cutter MASS productions that they are today.

After making a decision that I should read this book and own it, I did buy it. I think I may have “bought it, actually. At the time since my mom worked a few hours at the store, I would occasionally help move some boxes around and reorganize books. It was very simple work and not much of it, but in exchange for it, the owners (great people who I’ll talk about in later posts) would give me the option of a few dollars or to pick out a book or two. I probably choose to get the book.

Similar events occurred many times over my early book buying years. I know my first copy of The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe was bought using the same “I work for books” method. And the reasoning behind that was because it was older, smelled great…and that edition had gold edge on the pages and cover. It was a beautiful book.

Another event that helped solidify my habits of going to used bookstores was finding a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls. I saw the title and was like “Wow, a book named after the Metallica song?” Please bear in mind that I was just discovering books AND Metallica. I was around 12-13 years old. It’s excusable (somewhat) to make this mistake. I grabbed the book, I vaguely knew the name Hemingway. So I decided to buy it and started reading it.

It’s true that it took me quite some time to read that particular book, but during that time I read a few Hemingway books. Strange I know, reading some books by and author in the middle of trying to finish another of his. But my attention span was still not great when it came to reading. I still have to work on that today, ten years later.

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That’s the beginnings of what drew me to stores that sell used books. For years I only knew of this store and no others. My world was smaller at the time though.

I could go on and one with this history I have in my local used bookstore. I won’t today. I’ve already rambled on for a while.

I have also failed to mention the name of this bookstore. It’s called Catnap Books! You’ll hear MUCH more about this particular store as this series continues. For now though, just know that it’s located in Cobleskill, New York (574 Main St. to be exact. Zip code 12043). If you’re ever in the area (though hardly anyone just happens to be in the area) please stop in. I am confident you’ll fall in love with it as I have. 

Here are two pictures of the inside. I posted them on the hint I gave about the series, but I’d like to share them again. Just for a little tease. In the future I’ll snap some better pics and show you the whole store.

A look at the inside of the store front.

A look down one of the two main aisles.

6 responses to “Aged Pages: Used Bookstores and Why We Love Them (an Introduction)

    • Thanks for checking it out 🙂

      I look forward to doing these posts. So far it’s going to be an every Wednesday thing, and I have A LOT to talk about on the subject. I’m always open to having guest posts if you are ever interested…or anyone else reading this.

      I hope that I’ll get some people to post because it’s be great to find more used bookstores to love all over the country and even worldwide.

      Thanks again for taking the time to read this. I think I rambled a bit on this one. I’ll try to focus more next time 😉

  1. Don’t you just love the way the books are stacked all willy-nilly, in boxes and tubs on the floor, on tabletops, on top of each other on the shelves? I’ve been lucky to live near a college town full of used bookstores. I love them so much that I actually went into the business for a few years. The people you meet as an antiquarian bookseller are as quirky and wonderful as the books you find. Old paper books carry a history with them (and give your arms nice biceps) that can’t be replaced with ebooks. I can’t wait to read your new series!

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