|I love buying books. (Arguably more than I love reading them,
since I own MANY books I haven't managed to read yet.) Perhaps this
is a curse, a skill, or a birthright, but I thought I'd at least
share some of my more productive techniques for acquiring new
- The Library. Go to the library and check books
out if you just want to read them. You can't keep them afterwards,
but in most cases the specimens aren't in good condition anyway.
Frustratingly, however, libraries often have copies of
out-of-print hardbacks that I want to buy for my collection, but
can't afford. Actually, libraries sometimes have a shelf or
two of cheap donated books for sale - failing that, they tend to
have interesting seasonal sales once or twice a year.
- Big New Bookstore. Go to your local
Barnes & Noble. I
usually avoid doing this, because most of the books I want can be
got for lower prices elsewhere, and some of the books I want can't
be gotten at all in such places. However, for recently published
mass-market paperbacks, buying new is often the best move, since
they're not that expensive.
- Independent Book Bookstore. Visit your local new, used, rare, and/or out-of-print bookstore. Prices
will be higher than at a rummage sale, because there are business
costs associated with the operation of a bookstore, but obviously
quality will be higher, inventory will be larger, and the
bookstore is open year round, rather than once a year when the
weather is nice, as in the case of rummage sales. Not sure where
to go? Try browsing
Evelyn C. Leeper's list of bookstores.
- Discount Bookstore. Discount bookstores sell
'remaindered' books. Remaindered books are new-ish books which
just didn't sell enough copies at the retail price. The
inventory is usually boring: Many copies of a few books. Prices
are usually some fixed fraction of retail. Lately I've gotten
slightly more fond of this kind of store than I used to be.
Some discount bookstores, like
Half-Price Books on Route 206, buy and sell used books, too.
I really appreciate stores that sell used kids' paperbacks.
Sometimes that's the kind of book I'm looking for. Not many
stores keep used kids' paperbacks on the shelves: it can't be a
terribly lucrative strategy.
- Go on a Treasure Hunt. For an adventure, when the
weather is nice, check out yard sales, garage sales, and
fund-raisers. If you want 25- or 50-cent paperbacks, that's where
to look. These people don't WANT the books. (Sometimes with good
reason, admittedly.) The fun is in the search, the discovery, and
the very low cost. And now, you can be aided by the web.
Here's a site that lists rummage and library sales across the
Book Sale Finder. Here's another, which I can't personally
recommend since I haven't used it (I became aware of it after
leaving the states):
Book Sale Manager
On the Internet:
- Amazon.com. The most obvious online source is
Although I used to use their site mostly just for their excellent
customer reviews, lately I like them more and more. Their
new books are often discounted 20 or 30 percent, and then shipping
costs are often waived completely if you spend at least $25.
I also like the related services they offer: order tracking,
wishlist storage, personalized recommendations, etc.
- Advanced Book Exchange. If you want to look for a
particular collector's item, there is a conglomeration of
booksellers who sell through Advanced Book Exchange at
which is so expansive as to be useful almost always. It has
everything from dog-eared dollar paperbacks to gilded leather
volumes from past centuries to first editions of just about
anything. The only problem is that there are usually no images of
the books offered for sale. Abebooks also sells through
Half.com (see below).
- eBay.com. If you want to buy more than one book
at once, say, several books by the same author or in the same
series, try eBay.com.
People often sell books in lots. You'll probably get to see some
pictures of what you're buying. Also, eBay also has shops
full of buy-it-now book offerings. You get the best of the
collaborative market model of eBay without the annoyance of
bidding and waiting!
- Half.com. Hey, did you know that
Half.com is a
subsidiary of eBay? On Half.com all prices are fixed by the
seller, and items are placed in categories by condition. Choose
what you like, order through the website, pay with your
credit-card, and have it/them shipped to you. They sell other
stuff besides books, (movies and music, for example) though not
as much other stuff as eBay.
- My Store! Yes, I'm selling off some of my own
books (and movies) online now. The inventory is pretty
small, but prices are low. Go check it out by clicking
- Other Online Sites. Usually I can get what I need at
one of the sites above. Failing, that, try these:
- Online Sites for Textbooks.
- Comparison Shopping Sites. For when you want to search
multiple online stores at once.
- A Cappella
- Chapter 11
- Book Nook
- Atlanta Vintage Books
- Atlanta Book Exchange
- Beavers Book Sale
- Labyrinth Books, formerly Micawber
- Chicklet Books, formerly Chestnut Tree Books
- Half Price Books, actually in Montgomery
- Glen Echo Books
- Barnes and Noble in Market Fair
- Borders at Nassau Park
- Booktrader of Hamilton
- Bryn Mawr Annual Book Sale at Princeton Day School (March)