I purchase and receive used books at a theological bookshop. Most of the books I purchase come from retiring professors or clergy. It is always fun when someone drops off a bunch of boxes — it is kind of like treasure hunting. I really like cracking open a box and sorting through the books. There is no real reason why I need to be the first person on staff to do this, but I do get possessive of the boxes, and irritated with other staff who want to rummage through the new stuff. This is probably a personality failing of some kind, but I’m not sure how to classify it exactly. But it is always fun to sort through a stack and spot interesting things, or find rare gems. The rare gems are pretty rare, but you never know what you’ll find in a box or what a little research might reveal about something that looks drab and boring.
When I’m receiving and pricing books I flip through them to get a sense of the shape they are in. Are the pages bright or are they showing age? Are there marks in the text? If there are only pencil marks, that is nothing. Ink marks are a little worse. Highlighting kills a book in my view. Dead. I won’t buy a book that is highlighted for my own collection, why would I expect someone to buy a highlighted text from the shop? Depending on the previous owner, notes can add value to a book, or detract from the value of the book. I’ve got two copies of a book on spirituality by John Macquarrie. I am interested in the book itself, as evidenced by the fact that I acquired it twice, but why keep two copies? One is in nice shape for my own reading. The other is annotated by a Famous Female Preacher. I’ll keep both thanks.
I often find various bits of things used as bookmarks in the used books. I’ve got a folder full of bits and scraps found inserted into books we’ve got in our collection. One of the actual bookmarks left in a book sold to us is a big leather bookmark that says “Where I Left Off, Bala, Muskoka” on it. This bookmark made me smile. I volunteer at a summer camp near Bala, Muskoka. I wouldn’t buy a bookmark as a souvenir of Bala, but it was fun to find one!
What do you use to mark your place in books?