Deb Tawna lusts for previously-loved books

Talk Story bookstore in the town of Hanapepe on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

I’m currently on the Hawaiian island of Kauai enjoying a little sun, sand, and gawking at shirtless men relaxation.

I even get to pretend it’s an important business trip, assuming “business” means reading Deb Elise’s fabulous book Populazzi on the beach and visiting a bookstore to research this week’s Debutante Ball blog topic.

The latter wasn’t just any bookstore. Talk Story on the Hawaiian island of Kauai is actually the western-most bookstore in the United States, a fact the owner proudly shares with visitors along with a hearty helping of aloha spirit.

Talk Story specializes in used, rare, and collectible books. As a lifelong devotee of thrift stores and secondhand shops, I feel right at home there.

As an author though, I often field questions about used bookstores. You don’t get royalties from those book sales, right? How do you feel about that?

Comfy kitty on the counter at Talk Story.

I can’t speak for all authors (though if anyone knows where I can sign up for this job, let me know) What I can tell you is how I feel about used bookstores.

I love them.

I love the way they smell and the cozy clutter of the shelves. I love never knowing what I might find tucked between that tattered copy of Everyone Poops and the dog-eared Beyond Heaving Bosoms. I love pawing through the stacks for authors I’ve never heard of but am eager to sample at a discounted price.

Despite what authors might wish, most book buyers don’t have unlimited funds. Used bookstores offer a lower-priced option that makes it likely readers will take a chance on an unfamiliar author or genre.

A nice message from Talk Story.

For debut authors like me, that’s exciting. If someone tries my book and likes it, odds are good they’ll recommend it to friends and family. It’s likely they’ll all keep an eye out for my next book, some of them paying full price when it hits shelves.

As a longtime used bookstore shopper, that’s always been the case for me. How many times have I bought something at a used bookstore and loved it enough to recommend it to my book club? (That’s not a trick question – the highly scientific answer is “a butt-load of times.”)

Not only that, used bookstores give readers the opportunity to exchange their previously loved books for store credit, which leads to – you guessed it – more reading! That can only be a good thing.

Are you a fan of used bookstores? Do you share my fondness for all things secondhand? Please share!

In the meantime, I’ll be kicking back with a mai tai enjoying my new purchases. Aloha!

26 Replies to “Deb Tawna lusts for previously-loved books”

  1. I adore used bookstores, thrift shops, “grandma’s attics” and any store with previously owned items that do not include anything too fancy and with XIV after the name. There’s a thrift shop run by the Cerebral Palsy Foundation next to my girls’ speech therapy center. I always take a spin through, and one day found exactly what I was looking for – videocassettes of Pappyland, a kids show from the 1990s and a DVD of JayJay the Jet Plane. It was like finding the Holy Grail.

    Many years ago, at a used book sale, I found the very same Goldenbook version of “The Night Before Christmas” that we had growing up (the one my Dad read to us every year.) I snapped it up with a tear in my eye and out it comes every December, and sometimes late November if I’m really anxious to decorate.

    I found a used book of fairytales as a child – at a store on Lincoln Road in Miami – I still have it in my bedroom. It was from the Concord (Mass) Public Library in the 1930s and still bears the stamp inside the cover. It’s called “The Golden Chick and the Magic Frying Pan,” and at 47 years of age I should NOT be able to remember that! But I adored finding and reading and re-reading that book so many times, it’s like a dear friend. Here it is on UK Amazon:

    Old is good.


  2. One of the only places I buy books now is our library’s used book store. I love how I can wander through the isles each week browsing the shelves holding an everchanging array of books. They all need a good home, someone else to read them, love them. It’s like a book shelter–I am driven to adopt some each time. And since they are only a dollar, I am willing to try authors I have never heard of or even new genres.

    I am a dedicated recycler, so I donate many of my books back to the store. I exceeded my bookshelf capacity long ago, and I want to others to have the chance to enjoy a good read. It’s a win-win situation–I am supporting my local library (which needs all the funds it can get in these days of stiff budget cuts) and in return I have the pleasure of discovery each week.

    And the books get the love they deserve…

    1. Kerry Ann, great point about the recycling. I was an English Lit major in college, and between that and my generally voracious reading habits, there’s no way I could possibly keep all the books I buy.


  3. I love to buy used books! In fact, I just came home with two bags full of books yesterday from Goodwill. We have two Goodwills nearby along with another Goodwill-type store that has tons of books. I love going into these stores and looking through the books. You never know what you will find!

    1. Tiffany, right after I finished my lit degree in college, I went out and bought a GIGANTIC garbage bag full of romance novels and hauled it with me to my job as a phone operator for a golf reservation service. I thought of it like dessert at the end of a slightly bland meal, but now I look back and credit that experience for landing me here as a romance author 🙂


  4. Environmentally, I love the idea of used bookstores and used/thrift stores in general. As an author, I love them less. But you make some really excellent points – I’m thinking of Alice Hoffman, for instance, who I discovered through the library, but now I buy all of her books in hardcover.

    I’m so glad you’re safe and have been enjoying yourself. Huge hugs!

    1. Eleanor, Thanks! I should call the Talk Story bookstore this morning and make sure all is well there. The tsunami warning sirens kept us up all night here, but we were outside the evacuation zone.


  5. Hawaii AND a great used book store? Sigh… Paradise.

    You make an excellent point about finding authors through used books. I borrowed my first three Elizabeth George books from a friend… and have since bought everything else she has ever written.

    Similarly, I always feel a twinge of guilt when I loan out a book, especially when it’s an author I know. For example, I loaned Kim’s book to a woman with a son on the spectrum, and it nagged at me — shouldn’t I be telling her to BUY Kim’s book? — but the woman loved it so much she’s recommending it to all her friends, many of whom are indeed buying the book.

    1. Elise, I had EXACTLY the same experience when I loaned Deb Eleanor’s “The Weird Sisters” to my cousin’s wife, but she’s more than made up for it by recommending the book to pretty much everyone she knows.


  6. I think you really can’t underestimate the potential of discovering new authors (whose books you may not have bought before, but which you later buy).

    Here in Bonn we have an initiative which is called the “open bookshelf”. In several locations throughout the city, there are kiosks in which people can put their unwanted books for others to enjoy. I have put books in and taken books out. I have also discovered new authors, and later bought books. A number of books I would NEVER have bought, but because I picked them up free (and I read voraciously), I have has some truly unexpected and pleasant surprised in corners I never anticipated.

    (Of course, two days ago I hit real gold, I must confess, someone had put a stack of Georgette Heyer’s — in English!! original prices of 75 cents! — in the one by the university and I filled up my backpack with ’em. It was like Christmas!!)

  7. I LOVE used book stores. Used to work in one back when I was in grad school. It didn’t pay a whole lot, but I got to squeeze in tons of reading between customers — I was in heaven.

    As a writer, I think they’re pretty great, too. I can’t tell you how many times I got hooked on writers I might not have read if I hadn’t been able to pick up the books on their backlists for next to nothing. And once I was hooked, I bought all their new stuff as soon as it was released. Sounds like a good system to me. 🙂

  8. I love my used bookstore. I can get an almost new book for a few dollars. At such an inexpensive price, it’s my favorite way to try a new author. Or to hunt down backlist titles that aren’t readily available.

    And like Linda G. said, once I’m hooked on an author, I keep an eye out for her new releases.

    1. Julia, I love hunting down out-of-print treasures at used bookstores. Every time someone says, “I can’t find this book anywhere,” I make it my mission to track it down!


  9. I love used bookstores!

    @German Chocolate Betty – I’m so jealous. I recently read Cotillion by G.H. I loved it. I will be reading all of her stuff soon.

  10. Although it may seem strange, when I turned on CNN this morning and heard about the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and that the wave was on its way to Hawaii, I immediately thought about you and your family. Bet all of your other blog fans did, too. I’m so glad you’re okay.

    Anyway, YES, I love used bookstores, antique stores, old ratty hole-in-the-wall dust-covered thrift stores, ALL of ’em. We have so many books in every room (and attic) of our house now, it’s highly possible that the whole darned place is slowly sinking into the ground. And yet still, STILL, there’s always room for more.

  11. I love all book stores and especially used book stores. you can make great finds in used book stores. I found a book written by a victorian woman who travelled extensively around the world before woman were supposed to do that sort of thing. It was a book I wouldn’t have found anywhere else. Also, as an author, the way I look at it is that we got royalties on the book when it was originally bought and now someone is passing it along to another reader. People often lend or give their books away after they buy them, so a used book store is similar to that. If books are out their circulating, I’m happy with that!

  12. Used bookstores are THE spot for romance readers, especially if you love the category books that don’t stay in print very long. I scored two of Marilyn Pappano’s Southern Knights series at a used bookstore, bought the other two online and have bought everything new she’s written since.

  13. Identify what kind of reading you want to enjoy. Believe it or not, people enjoy different kinds of reading. Some people do research, some people read to learn how to do things, and some people read in order to enjoy stories or poetry. Before anything else, figure out why you want to read.

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