Literary Treasure Hoards, or AKA, Used Bookstores

A treasure hoard is a hidden cache of jewels, coins, or other valuables. To me, bookstores and libraries are full of treasures–books, both older and newer. Although used bookstores are not hidden, they are often overlooked.

I love used bookstores. When I purge my bookshelves, I sell what I can at a couple local used bookstores. While the employees decide what they’ll buy, I browse the shelves and often buy more books.

At used bookstores, sometimes I find newer books, but I also find classics and wonderful older books. Sometimes I find books helpful for historical research.

Part of the fun is that I never know what I’ll find. It’s a treasure hunt for me.


Photo by Bruce Watley

A few weeks ago, I posted about a recent visit to Colonial Williamsburg. There is a used bookstore there–Mermaid Books. At that visit we arrived after the store closed, so I only scored a photo.

But, several years ago, I was able to shop at Mermaid Books. I discovered a couple old treasures I didn’t know existed.


Photo by Deb Watley

For more information about Mermaid Books, see

This is the first installment in a series about literary treasure hoards/used bookstores I visit.

Do you shop at used bookstores? If so, please tell me about them!


  1. Amy Houts

    We used to have a good used bookstore in Maryville, but the adjacent building fell down, and the bookstore had to close. We’ve had a few old buildings downtown collapse.

    • Deb Watley

      That’s sad to hear about old downtown buildings collapsing and bookstores closing. Used books are sometimes in unexpected places, though, like antique stores and coffee shops.

      • Amy Houts

        Yes, it is. It’s fun to find books in unexpected places. I found some early Nancy Drew books at a flea market in Nebraska for $3 each!

        • Deb Watley

          Cool! I might have to check out flea markets now! I have a few Nancy Drew’s I owned as a child. They were the ones published in the 1960-70s. It would be fun to read the earlier ones to see how they changed. But, I don’t want to read the newer ones. I loved my childhood version of Nancy and don’t want her brought into the 21st Century. Maybe adults in the 70s felt the same way about their earlier version!

  2. Jane Heitman Healy

    You scored at Mermaid Books! I like when I find a used book that has handwritten marginalia (not notes in a textbook, but thoughtful commentary by an anonymous reader).

    • Deb Watley

      That would be a bonus treasure! What’s been the most surprising commentary you’ve found? That makes me want to write in my books for someone to find in the future.

      I haven’t found notes per se, but I’ve got relatives handwriting when they wrote their own, or someone else’s, name in the front of the book.

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