Lewis, 19, browses books in the Oxfam Books and Music Shop in Chorlton.
Lewis, 19, browses books in the Oxfam Books and Music Shop in Chorlton.

Our Top Ten Tips for Second-Hand Book Shopping

At Oxfam our shops have a world of books with everything you need to make Summer 2021 perfect. From the latest thrillers to classic fiction for you to read in the garden, OS maps and guide books to plan your Great British Staycation, or DIY home and garden books so you can give your space a makeover. But if you’re not sure where to start our volunteers and shop staff have come up with their top ten tips for charity shopping for books.

Radka Dolinska / Oxfam

Anthony with a book he purchased from the Oxfam Books and Music shop in Chorlton

1. Work Out What You Like

"Having read something you like...note the author and other titles. Search within categories and ask for help from bookshop volunteers. Look at websites and search out genres via links in those websites. Keep lists!” Lynne, Volunteer at Oxfam Berkhamsted

“I recommend a good website - Fantastic Fiction. Invaluable for seeing what else an author has written, books in a series, what other author writes in a similar fashion and when or if the author has any new books in the pipeline.” Gill, Online and Till Volunteer at Oxfam Bookshop Truro

2. Plan Ahead

“Keep a list with you at all times otherwise you walk into a bookshop and your mind goes blank in the excitement of seeing all those books.” Gill, Online and Till Volunteer at Oxfam Bookshop Truro

3. Keep An Open Mind

“Browse browse browse! You may usually be a fiction or a history reader, but that doesn't mean there isn't something else for you. Second-hand bookshops have a plethora of unique and interesting books, give yourself plenty of time to enjoy browsing them all.” Katie, Shop Manager at Oxfam Jesmond

“Have a proper browse - I’ve discovered new authors I hadn’t heard of before by taking time to focus on curious titles, check out the cover, read the blurb and not just go for the ones my friends and family have recommended.” Amy, Volunteer at Bedford Books & Music

4. Chat to the Shop Team

“Don’t be afraid to ask a volunteer for any book recommendations!” Alice, Till, Book sorting and Antiquarian book Volunteer at Oxfam Bookshop Bath

“I love chatting to customers as recommendations and information go both ways and you never stop learning from others.” Gill, Online and Till Volunteer at Oxfam Bookshop Truro

Radka Dolinska / Oxfam

Lewis, 19, browses books in the Oxfam Books and Music Shop in Chorlton.

5. Make an Afternoon of it

“Give yourself time to browse. If you rush, you'll miss the book you are looking for. But if you take it slow, you'll both find that book and the one next to it will catch your eye!” Justin, Online and Social Media Book Volunteer at Oxfam Books and Music London Victoria

6. Be Impulsive

“Buy it when you see it, the book you want will not be there tomorrow or next week.” Penelope, Volunteer at Oxfam Bookshop Brigg

“We have so many people asking 'You had this in the window yesterday...' When it's gone, it's gone!” Heather, Social Media and Shop Volunteer at Oxfam Books Harpenden

7. It’s Not Just Vintage

“If you like hardbacks, we get some lovely copies in of fiction from a year or two back plus first editions. Our primary school librarian spent her budget here because she could get so much more of the most popular books.” Emily, Books Volunteer at Oxfam Shop Blackheath

8. But Don’t Dismiss the Classics

“Classic literature - from Austen to Zola, vintage/antiquarian volumes in good condition are much nicer than what you can buy new. They often use higher quality materials and were produced to last rather than to be read once. And, so long as they are not first editions, they are often extremely good value versus buying a brand-new paperback. Our best-loved stories are better enjoyed when the medium is better.” Justin, Books, Online and Social Media Volunteer at Oxfam Books and Music London Victoria

“Look for Folio Society and Virago editions. They're both beautiful and always good reads.” Rachel, Online Shop Volunteer at Oxfam Bookshop Byres Road

Radka Dolinska / Oxfam

Lesley buying books in the Oxfam Books and Music Shop in Chorlton

9. Look for All Languages

“Our customers are multilingual. If you are too, it's always worth a glance at the foreign language shelf, especially if you want a bargain novel in French, German or Italian.” Emily, Books Volunteer at Oxfam Shop Blackheath

10. Shop Online

“Surprisingly, there are still people out there who don't know that Oxfam has an online shop! Go and check it out, there are many thousands of books. There's something for everyone.” Lesley, Online Selling Volunteer at Oxfam Bookshop Truro