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Used Book Shop Info

Book publishing is a peculiar business. In a practice pretty much unique to the industry, publishers allow bookstores to return unsold product for full credit. The returns policy has its roots in the Great Depression when desperate publishers convinced booksellers to take a chance on stocking more copies or the work of an unknown author by offering to take back any unsold books, no risk to the shopkeeper.  This NPR story does a great job of summing up the practice.

Generally, returns come back in good condition, but a number are received that just aren’t in a condition to be sold to our online customers or sent back out to bookstores. 

As can be expected, the books in our used book section show signs of wear and tear. The damage ranges from barely noticeable (minor scuffs or smooshed corners; damage to a dust jacket that doesn’t affect the book itself) to more serious defects (torn, bent or loose pages; crushed or bent spines; peeling corners; pricing stickers that won’t come off). All copies are marked on either or both the top outer edge or over the barcode to indicate that the book is a hurt copy and cannot be returned to a store. Discounts in our used book shop range from 60-85% off the cover price. Additional discounts, such as coupon offers, do not apply.

Used books return policy: All books sold in the used book shop are as-is condition; by purchasing a hurt copy you accept that we will send you a book with the type of damage described in the product summary. It may be in better or in slightly worse condition than you anticipated. We have done our best to provide photographs and describe the general type of damage the copy you receive may have sustained, but we cannot catalog each copy, nor can we provide you with a written description of a specific copy’s condition. We will accept returns only under the following conditions:

  • Pages are completely missing (or you may opt to receive PDFs or photocopies of the original pages at no additional charge)
  • Mold or other decay damage (we will not knowingly send out a moldy book; we give the books a quick inspection, but on occasion stores have returned books that sustained water damage not immediately apparent)
  • All returns claims must be transacted within 14 days of purchase
  • All returns must be pre-authorized; contact us at with your order number and reason for return prior to shipping back any books
  • Returns must be sent back at the expense of the buyer, with a tracking number (USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc.)
  • No refunds will be issued on shipping charges
  • If any of these policies make you uncomfortable, particularly the idea of receiving a damaged book sight-unseen that you can’t return, please do not purchase through our used book shop. 

We do not purchase used books for our shop. We have enough of our own, thanks!