Upholding Ma'at

Journeying through the modern world with ancient ways.

Budget Thursday: Braving the Second-Hand Bookstore

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When I had free time in college I devoted it to exploring my faith. I resorted to books often. Since I didn’t always have the money nor the transportation to trek to the other end of town I ventured over to the closest second-hand bookstore. At a fraction of a cost I owned a copy of a book. The lack of organization and the time necessary to peruse the store is intimidating for many. Here are some tips that will help navigate the second-hand bookstores.

Use the store credit. Second-hand bookstores get some stock from customers selling their books to them, and some will offer store credit. More stores tend towards cash reimbursement for books, but the idea is still the same. The purpose is to serve as an incentive to spend more in the store. It’s an advantageous one because it’s less money you have to scrape up for books.

Check the “shelf life” of the book. I feel this is a decent place to discuss the dangers of outdated books. While most are aware how outdated E. A. Wallis Budge is in Egyptology(most of his works were dismissed by the 1940’s) many of his books are still widely circulated. Some people feel the wide circulation lends credence to the validity of an older work, but more often than not it’s because it’s cheap to print and in public domain. I learned this costly mistake very early in my path when purchasing some books written by Budge. When I compared his writings to more up-to-date scholars I had to unlearn and re-learn information that didn’t always come at a bargain to my pocketbook.

Take advantage of national chains. Cautions aside, there’s also another issue I feel needs addressing. Many scholarly books were available to me because I lived in a college town. If you don’t live in a college town don’t feel discouraged. Some second-hand bookstores are also national chains, so if you can’t find a particular topic or book at one there is a good chance they can get the book from another store or even a warehouse.

National chain advantages aside, don’t ignore local stores. I have found through trial and error that not all second-hand bookstores are the same.

-Check the world history section first. This is a no-brainer, but it’s important to check the world history section of the store. This is where the scholarly books will be kept if you’re looking for that information.

-Check the New Age / spiritual section. There are an increasing number of books on Kemetic practices being published; some are even oriented towards modern practice. These books tend to be found in the New Age or spiritual section of the store, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for in other places that’s another place to check.

-Some stores have a section for magazines. This is iffy at best and futile at worst. It really depends on what you want. If you’re looking for National Geographic issues, for example, you’ll find plenty. If you’re looking for scholarly journals it’s highly unlikely you’ll find one.

-Be prepared to search. Despite organization into sections there’s little guarantee the section is coherently organized. You will have to search beyond skimming the shelves. Preparation is always important. If there are titles or topics you specifically want it will behoove you in your search.

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