8_bookstoreI don’t do adrenaline.  I don’t ski, bungy-jump, or ride roller-coasters.  I most certainly do not hunt.  Instead, I do used bookstores.

I know, I know.  They’re about as similar as monkeys and beans, and yet that is probably the closest I get to deliberately seeking out excitement.  Allow me to explain.

I’m a bookstore junkie. I am physically incapable of walking past a potential book depository without going in to see what they have. And I’m not just talking regular bookstores and libraries and UBS.  I’m also talking Salvation Army, Goodwill, vintage stores, discount stores, garage sales –anything.  I like books, but even more, I like good deals.  I’ve been known to Google UBS, map them, then visit them systematically one by one.  If I happen to be travelling this not only gets me books, it also gives me a non-tourist’s view of the city.

On my recent holiday I went on a road trip.  Besides the hiking and the seafood I stopped at every town on the way that would conceivably have used books.  This broke up the drive and got me some great finds: Deborah Simmons’ (a 2-for-1, actually); an old Susan Sizemore historical I’d never heard of published by a very defunct division of HarperCollins; an out-of-print copy of The Lion’s Daughter by Loretta Chase; and an old Iris Bromige which the proprietor gave to me for free  (because I’m sure no one else wanted it).  Sure, I could find them elsewhere.  Sure, I might even buy them new.   But that’s not the point.  The point is delayed gratification, rewarded.

And if I’m honest, that’s a big part of the reason I go to UBS.  I don’t mind being disappointed – I’m never worse off than before.  But I love the anticipation of stepping into a world of uncertainty; I love the possibility that underneath yet another copy of Dune is a Carla Kelly Signet Regency or even Laura London’s The Windflower. It’s about exploration and getting your hands dirty, and frequently coming away empty-handed; it’s also about saving money, encountering new books, and meeting new people.  When I think of it that way, it’s absolutely irrelevant that I could buy anything on the internet.  With a few clicks my curiosity could be satisfied forever – but where’s the fun in that?

Do you torture yourself like I do, or are you far less obsessive in your UBS hunts?  Do you believe in delayed gratification, and do you think it’s worth it?

– Jean AAR