Unless I absolutely have to buy a book new, I go to the local library or to charity shops to get my fix of retail therapy and books. The fact that you don’t know what to expect at charity shops adds to the excitement. Putney, quite close to where I live, is a very good place for cheap books. There are many charity shops on Putney High Street, and the quality of books is quite high, perhaps reflecting the residents’ general level of education.
I didn’t go to Putney with the express intention of buying books, but as a creature of habit, I had to go and have a look. I know I shouldn’t have, but still . . . Anyway, some charity shops specializing in books do have someone knowledgeable about books, or simply someone who looks up on Amazon and Abebooks to see what the going rates are, and price the books accordingly. Most general charity shops however don’t. It’s probably much more important to convert donated items into a reasonable amount of cash as quickly as possible.
So, charity shops tend to sell good books quite cheaply, and this is especially the case with non-English books. Today I bought the following books, all in pretty good condition:
Roland Mousnier, L’assassinat d’Henri IV, 1964 — £1.99
Chrétien de Troyes (trans. and ed. Charles Méla), Le Conte du Graal, 1990 — £1.99
(Trans. Henri Gougaud), La Chanson de la Croisade Albigeoise, 1989 — £1.99