All other things being equal–do you prefer used books? Or new books? (The physical specimen, that is, not the title.) Does your preference differentiate between a standard kind of used book, and a pristine, leather-bound copy?
Oh… That depends. Most of the books I buy new are paperbacks because they are affordable and take up the least space. It’s only rarely that I buy a book “for the cover”. My bookshelves all contain a mix of old and new, cheap and a bit more expensive. I categorize my books more by content and size than by looks.
I have few old books that are special to me as carriers of memories rather than for the quality of either content or cover. Most of them either from my own childhood or inherited from my parents or grandparents; or given to me on some special occasion.
In my bookshelves there are also a few old books that I have picked up in second-hand stores or markets. Some randomly, some because I have wanted to read a specific classic and not been able to find a new edition of it. I’ve never gone in for collecting rare books just for the sake of collecting rare books. Some of my own oldest falling-apart paperbacks are of more sentimental value to me. With books that I have read many times, visual memory of that exact copy plays its part too; it’s easier to find my way back to a favourite passage in the old book than in new edition.
Ever since early childhood I’ve also been used to borrowing books from the library. That has its own kind of charm.
Picture: Watercolour of mine from evening classes back in 1995