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'The ultimate recycling': Where to buy and sell used books in the Triangle

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Used books sit on display inside of Prologue on July 2, 2022.

Jamie Fiocco, the owner of Flyleaf Books, calls buying secondhand books "the ultimate recycling."

Searching down lines of shelves for the perfect book can be sustainable and affordable at local used bookstores.

“A single book can have many lifespans, depending on how many people decide to pick it up and read it,” said Liv LaMarca, a bookseller at Golden Fig Books.

Working at an independent bookstore allows her to discover rare books and be a part of a community, LaMarca said.  

“That's one of the most fulfilling parts of the job for me, getting to form all the kinds of connections that you have to form over books," she said. "Reading is such a solitary activity, but the love of books is so communal, and I think that's a big part of what I love about it.” 

The process for buying and selling used books is generally the same for most bookstores, Fiocco said. At many stores, customers can receive store credit or cash in return for used books.

Stores differ in preference of inventory and curation styles. Flyleaf’s inventory of used and new books, for example, specializes in local authors.

Used book sales can help bookstores gauge which genres are in demand in their new book market. Fiocco explained that Flyleaf originally underestimated their audience's demand for new romance books until they noticed high sales in their used romance section. 

Following that, they started carrying more romance authors and created a new store section. 

“If you are feeling overwhelmed, come up to the register and talk to the booksellers. They're going to be the ones that have the most knowledge of what used books are currently on hand,” David Bradley, founder of Golden Fig Books, said. “And if you just give them a genre or some type of feeling that you want to be elicited from a book, they can almost always help direct you in a certain way, so then you have a few options instead of an overwhelming hundreds of thousands of options.”

Here’s a list of bookstores nearby to check out!

Prologue

Nestled conveniently on 109 E. Franklin St, Prologue is the secondhand counterpart to independent bookshop and cafe Epilogue. Community members can browse Prologue's used and rare book collections Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. 

Prologue is currently only accepting fiction, fantasy and sci-fi books. They accept up to 25 books at a time on Monday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. Prologue only offers store credit that may be used towards 50% of certain purchases.

Letters Bookshop

Located at 116 W. Main St. in downtown Durham, Letters Bookshop has gently-used hardback and paperback books, with a specialized children’s section.  

Letters Bookshop is interested in buying all genres of used books, although they typically do not buy hardback books older than two years. They accept up to three boxes of books at a time on Tuesdays from 1-6 p.m. for store credit.

Flyleaf Books

Take a 10-minute ride on the NU bus route from Davis Library, arrive at Flyleaf Books at 752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and browse their curated secondhand collection. 

In their used books, Flyleaf looks for both hardcover and paperback, especially fiction, mystery, southern fiction and regional authors. Any book they do not buy is donated to local nonprofits such as TROSA and Book Harvest.

Flyleaf accepts used books during open hours — Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  and offers store credit for used books, which may be used on any store merchandise, or half that amount in cash.

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Golden Fig Books

Originally from Durham with a location in Carrboro at 200 N. Greensboro St., Golden Fig offers new and used books for community members. They are currently interested in used literary fiction, science, psychology, sci-fi/fantasy and cultural studies books, but will look through any potential inventory. 

They accept up to 30 books at a time during open hours — Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. They offer store credit and cash, but store credit may only be used to purchase used books.

"We want it to be welcoming, we want people to feel like it's a new bookstore, and have all of the benefits of that," Bradley said. "And then we just have the used book prices, essentially."

@dthlifestyle | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com

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