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Publisher's Summary

When you drop a box of unwanted items off at the local thrift store, where do they go? Probably across the country - or even halfway across the world - to people and places eager to reuse what you don’t want.

In Secondhand, Adam Minter delves into the vast, multibillion-dollar industry that resells used stuff around the world. He follows the trail of unwanted objects from the closets, garages, and storage units of Middle America to epic used-goods markets in Canada, Mexico, Japan, Ghana, India, Malaysia, and beyond. Secondhand takes us through the often painful and heartbreaking process of cleaning out a lifetime’s worth of possessions and shows that used stuff still has a place in a world that values the new and shiny - it entertains us, makes fortunes, fulfills needs, and transforms the way we live and work.

©2019 Adam Minter (P)2020 Dreamscape Media, LLC

What listeners say about Secondhand

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  • buyer
  • 24-02-2020

Minimalism vs. business opportunity?

This was a super engaging listen and fascinating to hear the global perspectives. The case for re-using things and fixing them is strong, and the book addresses business practices that prevent this (apple anyone?). I also found myself oscillating between wanting to buy far fewer stuff, and wanting to start a second-hand resale business. The author captures this paradox in his epilogue, great finish!

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  • Sara T.
  • 17-05-2020

fascinating look at 2nd hand market

This is filled with lots of cool tidbits about what happens to your stuff when you're done with it. Not every chapter has a strong narrative drive, but enough do to make it worth the time, and the narrator has a smooth easy going style.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Ms.Ravelled
  • 09-03-2020

Fascinating

I don't remember where I learned about this book, if it was a suggestion on Amazon or in my book club, but it was both informative and entertaining. The narrator was a good match for the narrative.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Blake mitchell
  • 19-04-2020

Great content

Well written for the subject. Really makes you reevaluated how you buy things, and personally speaking, my book and comic collection.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Laura
  • 25-10-2020

quit possibly the worse narration ever!

Having listen to 100's of titles in the past 10 years, the narration on this audio book is just awful. Poor inflection placement and odd pauses made it annoying to listen to. I thought about speeding it up, but I was really enjoying the content and story telling. The narrator on Adam Minters other book was so much more engaging.
Otherwise, the overall material in this book is fascinating, and like most modern issues, is complex and troubling.
It has made me more committed to reducing consumption and not feeling guilty about donation of my wares (large and small) to intuitions such Good Will and Volunteers of America.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tammam
  • 22-02-2020

Not useful

The writers keep talking about unimportant things and don't give any useful info. and much marketing for himself and his business. feel bad that I chose it

1 person found this helpful

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  • S. Woodhull
  • 24-07-2020

Unexpected topics around second-hand goods

I really enjoyed this book, like I enjoyed Adam Minter's previous book about garbage. In this book, Minter follows the path of catastrophes of rich nations to where they often end up as secondhand goods in poorer nations, and how there is a thriving business in collection repair and reuse of such goods.

Two things I wasn't really expecting about this book but that were clearly important to the author, as well as to me, was that the book was both a plea for quality in new goods, and an expose of bigotry on the part of rich nations.

Specifically, the poor quality of new goods, especially a flood of very cheap goods from China to rich countries as well as poor countries, was destroying the second hand markets. Those cheap goods fall apart after a very small amount of use, such as one or two washings for fast-fashion clothes, and are not even worth going into the second hand market. The author essentially begs buyers in rich countries to buy better quality goods such that those new goods would keep their value as second hand goods in other countries that want and need them.

As for bigotry, he points out that laws designed to prevent dumping of used goods into poor countries as "waste" are part of a white-savior complex or colonial attitude in that the white or other rich-country inhabitants can't see the cleverness of the (generally black) talented Africans who repair and remake the higher-quality second-hand goods. Who are we, he asks, to decide what is good or bad for Africans to import? They don't see it as waste; they see it as raw material with which to make a living and to enjoy, such as a television that has been repaired over and over and can provide decades of useful life. He also berates other journalists who go into African countries merely to photograph the fires of burning insulated wire giving off toxic smoke (with the hand-wringing thoughts of "Oh, those poor dumb Africans who can't do anything better than burn our waste") but ignore the multiple TV and other repair shops that are extending the lives of used appliances.

The narration was a little odd in that every time the narrator got to a foreign name, Japanese, African, or whatever, there was always a slight pause as the narrator figured out how to say it. But I wouldn't have done any better myself.

This was a very eye-opening book, and I am really glad I listened to it. I already avoid fast fashion, but I will probably be more conscientious about buying quality goods in the future. If nothing else, the next time my clothes washer breaks down, I will go out and buy a Speed Queen. Read or listen to the book.

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  • S in Seattle
  • 04-07-2020

Fascinating book about so much

This book is about business, economics, ecology and definitely about sociology. You will rcome to understand that some of our assumptions about Africa are just plain wrong. Some of the truths we assumed about second hand are no longer true.. Get motivated to reduce comsumption.

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