For the most part I've given up searching through the book offerings at thrift stores. Too often I am appalled at the lack of reverence held for these objects that I, myself, hold so dear. Our Goodwill and Salvation Army stores just throw books into bins and carts with little concern for the structure of the book. Pages are ripped, covers are torn from the binding, dust jackets are thrown away. It's never a good scene. Clearly, the people who work here are not readers. (I try not to judge, but it's hard).
Still, the pull of the book bins is strong in these places.
This past week I found myself in a thrift store (run by Hospice volunteers who seemed to care, if not about the books, then about organization). I perused four aisles of books on shelves that were slightly taller than the octogenarian in charge of putting the books away. For the most part, it's what you'd expect. Lots of paperback westerns (read by people of a certain age); lots of romance novels and popular mysteries.
I was hopeful. At least here, you could see that some people had cared for their books, wrapping Book Club Editions in protective, clear wrappers. These people had been readers. They'd been excited by the stories. I had to peruse the section twice before finding a book that had been pushed behind the others: a 2007 signed third printing of John Scalzi's 5th book, The Last Colony.
"Debbie! Hope you like this, John Scalzi." It makes me wonder if Debbie did like it. Publisher's Weekly
did, although not as much as his previous books.
Granted, it's not a first printing, which would garner $80+, but for $1 investment, it wasn't a bad find.
I also found a 1985 copy of Isaac Asimov's Fantasy!
with short stories by George R.R. Martin and Connie Willis (two authors I like). This was someone's treasure, carefully wrapped in protective demco with a tight binding. These sci-fi short story compilations always tickle me. They were printed in a hurry, with goofy fonts and no page layout. They were meant for mass production, just as Book Club Editions were, so they don't really hold much value, but I love the absolute awkwardness of these books. They speak to an eagerness of the geek genre to experience something new, exciting and imaginative.