Photo Journal: ThriftBooks Birthday Haul

6:30 AM

My birthday is coming up (February 15th! Yes, the day after Valentine's Day, which I fondly refer to as Birthday Eve.) and I went on a bit of a haul on ThriftBooks. I ended up buying 10 books and spent around $40 on the orders, which is actually a steal because I got mostly hardcovers.

So, how did I do?

HERE WE GO! A lot to say about this experience. For context: I have bought from ThriftBooks in the past (2012 or 2013, maybe?) and it was a rather miss scenario on the hit or miss scale. So, I'd been hesitant when it came to buying from them again. I was poking around their site recently and ended up deciding to take the risk and buy a few books as a little birthday treat for myself.  

Wow, plot-twist! Hello, risk-taker!

In all seriousness, I can't pass up a good deal. And, let's face it, ThriftBooks has a ton of them.

Before I get started on my review of the site in general, I should state that I buy a lot of used books. A lot. In fact, a good chunk of my personal library consists of secondhand books. I tend to buy a lot of my books, in particular hardcovers, this way.

There's a risk that comes with buying used books online because you can't see what condition they are in for yourself. All you can do is read the description and rating based on their scale and decide off that.

I took my time in scoping out options for this order and made certain to know what I was getting. I felt pretty confident in my picks--hardcovers listed anywhere from "like new" to a simple "good" and no former library books. (I made certain in triple checking the listings and avoiding any, and all, "ex-library" notes)

Needless to say, I was beyond excited for my packages to come.

The bad news is that a lot of my books didn't come as described. And that left me feeling let down. Ugh. The majority of them were as described but nearly half of them were not, which made me question the ratings system on the site. The good news (and yes, there is good news) is that their customer service is quick and effective.

I reached out to them about the ones that left me unsatisfied and just let them know what the issues were. I also let them know that while it was a bit frustrating, I wasn't looking for a refund because it isn't that serious, but they ended up giving me one for the items that weren't in the condition I was told they would be in.

Which is impressive. Not many places would do that. Actually, most places wouldn't. So, despite my initial annoyance over the quality and descriptive issues about my purchases, I'm not wholly annoyed with the company. I'm going to be taking the risk again in the future, and of course will be replacing the items that I can with my refund.

(They said to just donate the unwanted books to charity shops. Which, again, is awesome.)

Let's get onto the items I purchased and which ones I'm keeping or replacing.

DARE ME by Megan Abbott

I had already owned a paperback of this novel in the past. I ended up loaning it to a friend... who never gave it back. As it is one of my favourite books of all time, and I no longer speak to the friend I'd loaned it to, I decided I needed to just replace the novel.

This book was rated as "good" on the scale and I'd say it's pretty much as described. It's in good condition, save a little note in it and some obvious wearing. The good thing is, I quite like it when people write little notes in books that they ended up gifting someone, and the wearing wasn't bad.

THE RAGING ONES by Krista & Becca Ritchie

I was surprised to see this one listed, as it's still relatively new. You guys know that Krista & Becca Ritchie are #MYGIRLS. I read The Raging Ones last year in form of an eARC (which was one of the coolest experiences ever, since they are two of my favourite authors and this was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018) but was unable to purchase the finished copy when it came out.

I'm likely going to buy another copy of it in the future because I've got it in my head that I want to go on an annotate my favourite books. Why would I buy another edition of it, you ask? Because, I have a feeling I'll regret not having a backup without writing in it.

I'm weird. Judge me. This was rated as "good" and once again, I'd have to say the rating fits it. It mostly had little wear, but it was written in in one spot: an A.R. number, which leads me to believe it was a book that was tucked away in a middle or high school classroom for a few months and wasn't really read much.
S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett 

This is another book that I was extremely surprised to see on the site. It is also another book that I read as an eARC early on last year. Incidentally, it came from the same seller as The Raging Ones. Which was oddly fitting. Its description/rating is much of the same as The Raging Ones as well and as a whole, I'm very satisfied with S.T.A.G.S. and the condition it is in.

Its only damage is the A.R. number written on one of the front pages (which, thankfully, was in pencil and I just erased it) and some folds. Nothing major and overall, in nice condition!

THE FEVER by Megan Abbott

I've always meant to purchase The Fever. It's probably my favourite of all of Megan Abbott's books. I am always checking it out from the local library when I want to reread it and, sadly, the library copy is a mess. I don't meant simple mess, I mean: all of Megan Abbott's books have various coffee stains and cigarette butt burns in it.

Which is why I stopped checking them out. Hopefully, they replace them.

Back on topic, though. This fell under the "good" rating and, once again, matched up with what it was given and came in the condition I expected. She is well loved, without being damaged, and I'm more than ready to commence my yearly reread of The Fever.
MIREILLE by Molly Cochran

Another one of my favourite books of all time! Mireille hooked me from the first time I read the eARC a few years back and I've been wanting a physical copy since. I did end up buying a digital copy of the finished copy when it was released but it's definitely one of those books that I wanted in my possession.

Despite this being a paperback, this was the most expensive book I purchased in this haul. It was also one of the most disappointing purchases because it was described as "like new" but when it came it was very damaged on the lower right corner and the back was pretty beat up as well. This wouldn't have been an issue if it wasn't listed as like new/the most expensive item in my haul and I probably would have let it slide.

While I was ecstatic to have a physical copy of this, at last, I was pretty annoyed about the condition it arrived in. And, blah-blah-blah... you get my point.
TALES FROM THE SHADOWHUNTER ACADEMY by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman 

My favourite purchase of the haul! Uhhhhh, this was listed as "very good" and is, in fact, VERY GOOD. This was the last book I needed to complete my The Shadowhunters Chronicles collection (I have a finished digital copy and the eARC that I reviewed before its release) and I was so, so happy to get the hardcover at such a value.

It. Was. Only. $4.19. WHAT?!!!!!?! I'm still emotional over it. WHAT A DEAL. WHAT A STEAL. I am not crying I swear.

Enough said.


I was SO excited for these. But SO letdown by the quality I received. I've had these in paperback for years and I just really wanted to upgrade my The Shadowhunter Chronicles collection by purchasing hardcovers for the books I had in paperback. I've been trying to do that the last few years: I purchased the first three Harry Potter books to replace my tired paperbacks and the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy got the same treatment.

It was only natural that I'd begin doing that for The Shadowhunter Chronicles.

(I have hardcovers for the majority of these books and only needed City of Bones, City of Ashes, Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince in hardcover.)

They were described as "like new" and "very good" but, uhhh, weren't? I'd list them as "good" and "acceptable" because... well, the condition I received was very... interesting, to say the least. So, the first thing I noticed was that the pages looked water damaged--I'm not going to include them in the haul because I took pictures for customer service, but basically the pages were wrinkled in some areas and half white, half yellow.

Which was... yikes. And they smelled. BAD.

The jackets are in okay condition. They are a little bent but not so much out of shape. You can tell they were just a little bent from moving them around on shelves, probably. Hell, some of my CC books have a similar "flaw", it's normal.

The weirdest part, and the final straw in me having contacted ThriftBooks, was what was inside Clockwork Angel. I was examining the water damage/yellowing when I noticed there were little hairs poking out of the pages at the bottom. When my throat started closing up, I realized it wasn't hair... it was fur. Cat fur. Which I am moderately allergic to; when I had my cat, it was fine so long as I took my allergy medicine... so after taking my allergy medicine, it was fine but, like...

There was like eight or so hairs (er... furs) poking out, no joke. Which was just plain weird. I mean, it is natural to find hairs in things from time to time. I shed a lot. I'm a pet owner and my two dogs shed a lot. (I think that secondhand listings NEED to make it a priority to list if it came from a location that has pets or smokers in it, because ALLERGIES.)

So basically, that was a little ?????????? and definitely not as described. I was actually a little dramatic and appalled about this one most of all because WHAT THE HECKITY HECK?????


Alexandra Bracken is the best. I mean that genuinely, I just love her work and The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding is one of my favourite middle grade books. I finally decided I needed a physical copy of this book and splurged on this one (it was one of my most expensive items in this haul) and was excited because it was listed as "very good" and I was SO ready.

This was another one of those, "ThriftBooks, we need to talk" moments because it was not "very good" and was, again, along the lines of "good" at the highest rating. Not only did I specify the option I was getting was not an ex-library book, I made sure to get the best condition.

This... was not it. It was, in fact, an ex-library book (I tripled checked the site and it wasn't supposed to be one) and was just annoyed at this point. It was very beat up. There was highlighter, sharpie or blue pen ink, smeared at the bottom of the books pages and just not in great condition. So, obviously, this was an issue for me.

When I was taking the library plastic off of it, I ended up having to leave a lot of it behind on the inside because it would have torn the book up a bit. A lot of adhesive was left behind on the back and on the spine, too, from stickers.

Listen, none of this would have been an issue with me if I had purchased a lower cost edition that was rated accurately. This just wasn't rated properly and was lower quality than the cost.

The final book I purchased isn't going to be pictured in this haul because I'm working on another photo journal for this coming week, that it'll be featured in! And I just didn't want to list it twice in such a short window.

I will say that it arrived in good condition and matched up with its rating, and I was very satisfied with it!

That being said: I wasn't thrilled with four of these books but customer service was great, and clearly agreed with me on the ratings being inaccurate because they refunded me pretty quickly. I am going to be replacing these books with better editions in the future and donating them to Goodwill.

I was going to replace them straightaway but thus far, there aren't listings for what I want in terms of quality on ThriftBooks so I'm going to hold off until I find one.

I did end up taking a risk and bought a few books yesterday, because I was actually impressed by their customer service not being a rubbish pit, and took advantage of the freebie book I got from my points on past purchases. I want to be able to support them, you know? It was nice to have my concerns addressed and all that jazz.

As a whole, I'd rate my experience at a 7.5. Not great quality for every item I received, but great customer service. Hopefully my next experience will be better! And that my replacement books will be as described.

Have you purchased from ThriftBooks in the past? Was your experience good or do you have some horror stories?

You Might Also Like