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The Secret Content of Secondhand Books


The Guardian has a great post up about a bookshop in Oxford, UK called Skoob Books who have been collecting the items they’ve found inside used books over the years.

You probably know we did a similar piece called Found in Books some years ago. We put a call out to our booksellers to share with our readers some of the treasures they’d come across since they began selling secondhand books. The list was by turns fantasy-inducing and stomach-churning, and included such gems as a strip of bacon (expired), a cockroach (also expired), a rookie Mickey Mantle baseball card, a selection of 1970s porn, cash (up to $40,000 in one go), old baby teeth, soiled cotton swabs, dried flowers and much more.

But the Guardian article, which mentions similar finds, also has lovely images to go along, and it was nice to actually see some of the finds – the dried plants and flowers in particular are quite sweet, and the tickets tell so many stories all at once.

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Beth Carswell

About Beth Carswell

I've been reading, selling, researching, loving and writing about books with AbeBooks since 2000.

2 Responses to “The Secret Content of Secondhand Books”

  1. After reading your blog piece a couple of years ago, I purchased Forgotten Bookmarks by Michael Popek. For years I’d curated things found in the pages of used books in my book journals but of late I’m finding the booksellers are getting there first! Not as many surprises anymore, like the 1920s baby’s picture in a vintage edition of Robinson Crusoe. Outside of bookmarks bearing the names of the shops where they were purchased, the most common items were receipts from neighborhood bodegas.

  2. Beth Carswell

    Perhaps estate sales and church rummage might be a better bet to find notes and treasures hidden between pages. I think you’re correct that booksellers know to get there first, now.

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