Out of Print and On My Shelves

I started researching this topic several times, and each of those times I ended up down a rabbit hole wandering around used book websites. I only wandered back to the surface after purchasing another treasure.  I’m often thrilled to buy books for a penny plus shipping on Amazon. In this case, Amazon does not own the market on the treasures that I seek. Although I see that they purchased Abe books so maybe they are working on that.

Make no mistake, my shelves are full of books in print.  There are plenty of well-loved books still in print. I just feel like older books get overlooked much of the time. Being OOP doesn’t mean it is not worth printing. It just means the publisher isn’t positive it will make enough profit on a reprint.

It began with homeschooling. The first year I bought a packaged grade level kit. With it was printed readers from the 1950’s. We loved the stories, and they were perfect for my beginning readers. Completely phonetic with no surprise sight words. Then I started tracking down the literature required for each grade level. The books that were the most entertaining, with the largest vocabulary all seemed to be printed before 1960. Plus the descriptions were filled with magical phrases:  gray cloth boards gilt vignette of coyote, pictorial series endpapers, and my favorite: gift inscription under flap. I’m a writer, and when I read any inscription, an immediate short story scenario will come to mind. I know that Aunt Lucy was clearly Jack’s favorite aunt and that although Jack lived far away, they shared a love of fairy tales. Later when Jack was older, he would be the one to care for her in her old age.

I was hooked. I found a lot of places to order OOP books online. I’ve since moved on to searching flea markets, and since we moved to Chicago, I’ve found plenty of used bookstores. My favorite is Myopic Books in Wicker Park. The no cell phone sign won me over immediately. I can wander around that store for hours mentally moving books closer together on my own shelves to make room for some new additions. I am a master at the double stacking technique. It isn’t listed here, but I’ll be happy to create a tutorial if the demand is there.

In all other aspects of my life, I am a minimalist. I had no problem clearing out dumpsters full of stuff from my great- grandmother’s home. Except, of course, the books, 5 boxes full came back with me. I have a set of readers from the late 1800’s. I have a Chicago Speller from 1908.  Many of my oldest books are in poor shape. Bad enough that I can’t see handling them on a daily basis. I use ideas from them, and I teach concepts from their pages. Why reinvent the wheel? The best math book we’ve come across that made division click for my son was printed in 1897.

The fictional books are by far my favorites. Their vocabulary alone is swoon-worthy. I use many out of print books in our homeschool studies and our bedtime reading. I’ll be highlighting some of our favorites that are OOP and easy to find in the coming weeks.

You might find you like them as much as I do. After all,  sometimes you just need a little practical advice:

old book