Saturday, March 25, 2006

The cheapest way to buy books on line or in real life (DVDs too)

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How I find books at the lowest possible price on-line and in real life.
How to find free books on-line and off line.

I found a number of different approaches depending upon the type of book. I suppose the cheapest way is to borrow the book from your local public library. You might see fees if you need to use inter-library loans. Also inter-library loans take time. Gary Paulson has a good oppinion on this, he also has a scheme for up-trading garage sale books for better books at used bookstores. It just might work.

Childrens books are often bought inexpensively at Charity stores - such as salvation army, etc.... Usually for $0.25 - $0.55 each. This sure beats the daylights out of Walmart at $3.50 to $15.00 each.

For most other books, I'll usually buy used books if they are in good condition. However, before I delve too deeply into the used books, I'll try one of the following price comparitors to establish a baseline for a new book. If the price is close and shipping terms are acceptable, I'll flip to the new book, instead.


Shortly after that I'll go to www.abebooks.com which is a meta bookstore. Many of the best used bookstores across the country put their inventories on-line. ABE is especially helpful for more rare books. ABE can provide fantastic deals. However, please note that ABE allows you to put books into your shopping cart from many different stores at one time. You need to be careful to manage where your books come from in order to take advantage of the $1 shipping fee for additional books.

Finally I might try looking at www.half.com. I've been very pleased with half for used DVDs. Another thing that doesn't make sense to buy new. Through www.half.com and some of the initial comparative search engines I have sometimes found great deals at the Amazon marketplace, though not alway. The inside word for book sellers is that they can get better prices at the Amazon Market Place than on Ebay.

Two great resources to confirm that what you're buying is worth buying are the following: www.amazon.com www.epinions.com They usually have very good user feedback. Also, keep in mind that older texts might be available free from the following sites:
http://print.google.com
http://www.archive.org/
http://www.opencontentalliance.org/
http://www.gutenberg.org/cdproject/ - offers on-line and cd or DVD based texts (1000s of them).

If you buy something at Amazon, you may be protected by a lowest price guarantee. The following site was created to ping the amazon site and see if there was a price change for the product you purchased: http://www.frozenwarrior.com/~pricewatch/ You can then pursue Amazon and seek a rebate.

In general, I've found garage sales to be too hit or miss to spend time looking for books.

On the other hand, I've seen some very interesting posts at www.craigslist.com, especially for Children's DVDs.

Also, when you're done with your books, especially books that you won't necessarily use again, such as travel books that are no longer necessary, I strongly recommend donating them to either your library or a charitable resale shop. You can get a great tax deduction and let others enjoy the work.

I just tried www.campusi.com and used their rare book search on some specialty history areas. They provided one of the most impressive list of search results for authors that are normally almost impossible to find. Check out this discussion at Washington University to here what others say.

Have a great Saturday afternoon,
Making Our Way

1 comment:

GaryP said...

Thanks for the link to my post. This is a great synopsis of where to look for books!

GaryP