I'm one of those people who believes in the power of books. Books should never be given away! Books are always good for you, no matter how bent or broken their spines. Books can solve anything.

That was, until I had small children. Who also loved books. So much so that they sucked on, ripped, wrinkled, and played sword fights with them. It brings new meaning to the word "bibliophile."

For many books, it's ok to let them suffer a little. Board books, after all, are meant to be licked a little by baby mouths, discovering what books are all about. The library people even have a name for it: "early literacy." But those cheap staple-bound picture books? At 50 cents from a thrift store, I'm saving a few dollars -- I can get any installment in the whole Berenstain Bears oeuvre for $2.99 apiece at my local bookstore. Saving $2.49 sounds like a good plan at the time. But when I lose half the pages within a few weeks, I'm several dollars' worth of crazy.

When it comes to a few dollars or your sanity, I think you know the way to go: get the books new! They'll last longer and they're guaranteed to already have all their pages. And that will feel so good on your linear brain.

This post was written as part of a series on how to thrift shop smarter. Read more on what to buy, and not to buy, at thrift stores.

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