A Worn Out Book is a Thing of Beauty

As the owner of a bookstore, I occasionally come across rare and expensive books.  There is a large worldwide industry for rare and old books, or antiquarian books (as collectors say it).

The value of a book is a calculation of its desirability, rarity and condition.  A book that is  both extremely rare and appears to never have been opened stands the best chance of fetching a high price.

I don’t have anything against collecting or collectors.  I am a collector of rare pop-up books myself.  But, what is the value of a book that is never read?  Books are made to be used and loved by people.  They are proof that humans are capable of magic.

This summer, my nine year-old son made his way through Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  For those of you from planet Mars, that’s the fourth in the Harry Potter series.

This was a library book.  My wife has done a wonderful job in turning my children into library pros.  They come home every two weeks with armfuls of books.

Many library books bear the marks of age and use by readers.  However, When I saw this book, I was amazed.  This is a book that has been read and read and read again.  Look at the pictures.  Observe that they pages are stained from many hands.  The binding of the book is barely capable of holding the dog-eared pages.

How many people have read this book?  How many backpacks has this book been in?  Obviously very many.   This book has a date stamp from April 2001.  My boy read it in June and July of 2013.  He had to be on waiting list for it.  If we conservatively estimate that each reader of this book took two months to plow through it, this particular book has been read about 72 times!

If a value of a book was determined on the number of lives it has touched, this book is worth its weight in gold.


Hooray for libraries and for the service they provide!  Thanks to our local library system, many people have enjoyed this wonderful book and its story who may not have been able to afford the hardcover edition.

We are a bookstore for certain.  However, we are book lovers first and I wanted to share this valuable book with our fellow book lovers.  Enjoy the pictures of this wonderful book and know that there are hundreds of thousands of books just like it in libraries all over the world.