Do you have a copy of your UTMOST favorite book from childhood? The one you either memorized, or asked for several times a week…that comforted you as a kid each time you read it? Better yet, it was read to you by your Dad using his silliest voice?
Do you keep your most favorite childhood book in a prominent place, a bookshelf at your office, or even a simple shadow box that frames it and easily makes you smile each time you walk by it?
To Find It: If you are blessed to be able to return to your nearly untouched bedroom of your childhood, (your mother has dusted, but left it unchanged), Wonderful! If you are able to visit your local bookstore and find that childhood book on the shelves, Great!
The Problem: If your favorite childhood book is out-of-print, however, there may be an answer as fast as your Internet server and the US postal service. Nowadays, even if your favorite children’s book is an out-of-print first edition, children’s books can be easier to find than in the past.
This may sound like an advertisement, but I’m not getting any money for it; this is just my experience: Amazon.com’s used books can be a virtual global bookstore at your fingertips. Sometimes books are only one penny, plus $3.99 for shipping. In my experiences of buying books for a penny each, I sometimes got a pristine book and sometimes a hunk of junk. If I am doing children’s book research, four dollars total can be a deal, faster and cheaper than searching for a children’s book elsewhere. If I want to ensure a better quality of a book’s condition, I willingly pay more accordingly.
I asked myself, How do businesses or individuals make a profit off a penny, particularly with Amazon’s sometimes $3.50 commission? It appears that the businesses that are able to sell books for a penny make this work through Amazon.com’s Sell Professionally plan. The “book for a penny” is not a scam. Businesses that plan to sell over 40 books a month can subscribe for a fee and eliminate the listing fee. Again, that’s not me and I’m not getting paid for this positive description.
Yard Sales, Garage Sales, Rummage Sales
If you want to find your favorite out-of-print picture book at a yard sale, garage sale or rummage sale, the efficiency and effectiveness of these sources can depend on how many sales you visit and how often. My parents and I love to share our finds with one another, our prices and discoveries. We go to yard sales for the fun of it. Sometimes I just enjoy the hunt, rather than the capture of a favorite children’s book title. At the same time, I keep my eyes open for vintage books and contemporary titles of all kinds.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Library Sales
My high school classmate–the one who cried with me at our 1990s small town theater’s showings of Dead Poet’s Society and My Girl–admired a book I showed her on my Facebook page. Wow, she posted, I need to find a copy of that. When she looked on Amazon.com, however, a new copy cost over $100! A used copy was a mere $20. Both were too much for our tastes and preferences. Yet low and behold, I found one when I wasn’t looking at…
My Library’s Used Book Sale–Our Bismarck Public Library has a bi-annual Books by the Pound sale. If you’re into paperback books, it’s a steal. The prices of the hardcover books (cookbooks!) aren’t so bad either. This is where I found THIS jewel of a children’s book.
A good reference book on collecting children’s books can also be found at your library for checking-out. These special collections of children book titles won’t necessarily tell you where to find a specific one, but can indicate about how rare or common a specific children’s book is deemed.
What haven’t I found online and at sales of all kinds? My friend commented on Reverie of a Picture Book’s first post: She has never been able to find “Mr. Brown and Mr. Black”. Personally, I can’t even find reference to it.
Does “Mr. Brown and Mr. Black” have a different title?
Who still owns a copy and maybe doesn’t even realize it?
Update: I can’t help but share this wonderful, makes-my-heart-skip-a-beat post about second-hand books from the equally and consistently wonderful blog Lost and Found Books. Try it, you’ll like it too! Originally I didn’t mention second-hand bookstores because I didn’t have easy-access to any, and I didn’t have any beautiful words to say about them. No longer–see link.