Used bookstores vs. internet - Pros & Cons

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Used bookstores vs. internet - Pros & Cons

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Abr 21, 2008, 10:24 pm

When I travel I like to browse used bookstores. I am in Illinois as I write. I have found a decreasing number of physical stores as I travel around. I find this disturbing. The internet is good because it provides access to books from obscure locations, but it is not substitute for visiting a store.

I think bookstores have more pros than cons, on they other hand internet book buying has more cons than pros.

What do others think?

Abr 22, 2008, 12:54 am

I love browsing bookstores. I love walking around Barnes&Noble because I can always find things to read. Unfortunately that can lead to impulse buys. It's only later I'll remember, or look it up and find, that I could have gotten it on for a few dollars cheaper. Just an example of the internet being better in this case.

Abr 22, 2008, 5:56 am

I visit second hand bookshops less than I used to, this is partly because I have 2 small children who would never let me browse in any shop.
Since the internet I have found that used books have become much more accessible and if I hear about something, instead of sticking it on a mental "to look for" list, I quite often look it straight up on ABE and buy it straight away if it is a good price. The downside of books being so accessible is that some used booksellers have realised that they don't need a store front to sell books anymore, and can sell them online with less overheads. I'm probably buying less used books this way and definately miss browsing. I have lots of books that I would not have bought if I hadn't seen them physically.

Abr 22, 2008, 8:14 am

I don't browse "real" bookstores very often. Usually I find my books in thrift stores and library sales, or of course on the Internet.

Abr 22, 2008, 9:06 am

I enjoy the serendipitous finds that come from browsing used bookstores. I was very sad when Ex Libris Theological Books closed their store, as I think every thing I ever bought there was the result of a browse. I think much of my library is the result of browsing, in fact.

Abr 22, 2008, 11:20 am

I don't want to imagine a world without used book stores. I buy a lot of books, many online, but nothing is as satisfying as browsing and buying books in a used bookstore. To me, it's completely different from buying on the internet. I've found that buying a book online is kind of a one-dimensional experience -- there it is, I can afford that, click -- and it's on the way to me. It doesn't compare with walking into a good used bookstore, and seeing, touching, and even smelling the books. The latter sounds odd, perhaps, but the fragrance of a good used bookstore is as much a pleasure to me as the scent of a good teashop or herb store. (Plus, it's possible to avoid buying in person a book that reeks of cigarettes or mothballs -- one of the drawbacks of buying used books online.) In a used bookstore, I can spend time looking at unusual or interesting books, even if I don't want to buy them. I like to get a sense of how used books are priced, and weigh in my mind whether the book in my hands is worth the asking price, or if I should set it down and look elsewhere. Lilithcat uses the magic word serendipitous, and that's a big part of the enjoyment, too -- finding books that I didn't know existed, or finding a particular edition of a book that just feels right in my hands.

Library sales and thrift stores can have their own sort of irresistible charm and attraction, as well. I also buy lots of books that way.

I've noticed, too, that some bookstores no longer have an actual store because it's easier for them to sell online, which is too bad. (I also can commiserate, StringerTowers, on the difficulty of browsing for books with small children in tow! It does get easier to shop for books when the kids get older, fortunately.)

Abr 22, 2008, 11:32 am

It really does get easier to shop for books when the kids get older. If you are lucky, they'll become active shoppers, which can be quite expensive at times ("you're saying we need to buy THREE copies of Maus???"), but even more delightful.

My children, now in their teens and twenties, have a love for actual bookstores and very little tolerance for library booksales. Unfortunate from the point of view of my finances (for some reason many of their books always migrate to my pile of books at the cash register, or they come up with suggested gifts for incipient birthdays or occasions right before I go to pay), but hopeful for the future of small independent bookstores.

Editado: Abr 22, 2008, 4:22 pm

I am nuts about browsing used books stores, thrift stores, and even antique stores. Antique stores in small and relatively remote towns, especially, will often have some really nice books for sale at relatively reasonable prices. High marks in this regard for the antique stores in Barstow, California, along the old Route 66, for example.

At any rate, the used book stores, thrift stores and antique stores are great for those surprise finds and especially for unusual old books you've never even heard of on interesting topics.

I will go online to ABE or Alibris if there is a particular book I want that I don't think I'm likely to find any time soon in a local store, new or used. Otherwise, it's the used bookstore for me every time!

Abr 22, 2008, 9:54 pm

I am in Indiana now and been through eight or nine used bookstores along the way. Some have been very well organized with a wide and deep selection. Unfortunately, some were nightmares. If there was such a thing as used bookstore police, the owners would be doing hard time.

MaggieO -- You hit it right on thr head. Browsing a store is an experience for four of the five senses (not much opportunity for taste). Some of my favorite stores are ones that have old hardwood floors that creak with each step.

Let's hear some more.

Abr 23, 2008, 11:38 pm

When I travel I use the book series 'The Used Book Lover's Guide to the...' that list used bookstores in different regions of the US. However, they are somewhat outdated. I've tried to find a list of stores on LT, but no luck.

Does anyone know of such a spot on LT?

If not, is anyone interested in putting together a list of used bookstores, organized by state, that are still alive and well?

Not advertising, but just name, address and website. This would be of great use to people traveling. The big catch is keeping the list up-to-date. I have found lists online, but they are frequently filled with stores that no longer exist.

Perhaps a new topic thread could be started devoted to only listing the stores.

Abr 24, 2008, 3:37 am

I started a Group called Favorite Bookstores shortly after I joined LT. The subject lines were supposed to be formatted by State, City, Bookstore; with the idea that it would sort geographically if everyone complied. Sadly not everyone did that. There are, however, several references to many, many bookstores.

You may also wish to browse the Groups page for ~regional~ groups. I know that under the Chicago and San Francisco groups, there are threads dedicated to bookstore recommendations.

Abr 24, 2008, 3:51 am

there is just something about a physical store that makes me favor them. the biggest pro i can think of is instant satisfaction, that is you have the book in your hands that day. Internet is cheaper to compensate the waiting period in my mind. i just like stores tho. maybe its the smell. does anyone else know what i mean about the "smell"? or am i just bonkers..........

Abr 24, 2008, 4:03 am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Abr 24, 2008, 4:03 am

> 10

Have you experimented with Local? LTer's have listed well over 8000 bookstores and many of them are used bookstores.

Abr 24, 2008, 7:59 am

85% Of my books come from used book store or the internet..ohh and library book sales.. the rest I buy brand spankin new!..

Abr 24, 2008, 8:16 am

I prefer to buy from used book stores rather than the internet. I prefer touching the books and skimming the pages to reading online synopses. If the place has a resident cat, that's the icing on the cake for me. I used to live within driving distance of Powell's Books in Portland, OR. I loved that place because I'd always find something really unusual and wonderful. I'd also leave with an armful of books and an empty wallet. Unfortunately the used bookstores where I live now don't fit my taste, so I frequently buy online, sometimes from Powells.

Abr 24, 2008, 5:05 pm

The sticking point keeping me away from online is shipping costs - most of the books I buy are at prices where shipping will double it or more, and most of the online places exempt their used booksellers from their shipping bargains.

And add in the stuff like being able to browse, and feel and smell and see!, and judging condition and edition and things too. Plus looking for used bookstores in small towns usually lets you find really interesting parts of town.

Abr 25, 2008, 10:52 am

I agree. I like because at least if you order them all from the same seller, you get a shipping discount... Recently, I was going to buy a series, all from the same seller, on Amazon and I went to pay, the total for the books was like $32 and shipping was $44, bringing my total to $80. I canceled that order. I might as well buy them new from the local 'Book World' than pay that much for shipping.
Plus when sellers list on Amazon, sometimes the Amazon commission is so high, that the seller's total "take" (including the shipping allowance) is actually less than it would cost to ship the book.

Abr 25, 2008, 11:01 am

It's true that online book-buying is no substitute for browsing in a used bookstore. But it's also true that browsing is no substitute for targeted online buying, particularly for rare or more expensive books. If you're building a specialized library, or just trying to complete a particular collection, browsing, in the hope that you'll miraculously come across a copy of the one book you're looking for, is almost always going to be disappointing.

Abr 25, 2008, 11:31 am

Buying books online is like buying anything else online - convenient, and possibly less expensive. I will buy online if I stumble onto an interesting out of print title and can't find it locally. But going to a used bookstore is always an adventure. Instead of looking for a specific title, you have to be open to whatever happens to be on the shelves. The book smell, creaky floors, store's all good.

Before the internet, I used to claim some real finds. An out of print book on the Pacific Northwest that might cost over $100 at Powell’s, could be found for under $10 in Denver or Buffalo (and the other way around).

For those of you who haven't checked out LT Local, please do take a look (see the Local tab, upper right between Groups and Zeitgeist). LT users have entered nearly 18,000 libraries, over 8400 bookstores, 327 book fairs/festivals, and 558 “other” locations. Local also includes events – over 6300 entered so far, with almost 2000 of those upcoming. You can enter an address or zip code, specify a distance between 1 mile and 100 miles, and up pops a list of “venues” and events within that range.

You can favorite venues, and star the events that interest you. Then go to Your Favorites on the Local page, and you will have a list of the upcoming events you have highlighted. Hint for any Portland readers here – Rose City Used Book Fair is this weekend, April 25-26.

I have entered 195 locations, and I am not even in the top 20 helpers! Some users have focused on libraries or the big chain stores, but I have tried to list as many as possible in the “used and rare” category. To the detriment of my budget, I found several in the Portland area that were new to me. Level of detail varies, but the format provides data fields for address, phone number, email, website, events URL, and description.

Add a few of your favorites, or add some details or events to a bare bones listing for a bookstore you love. This is an incredible resource, whether you are traveling, or just looking for interesting bookstores in your area.

Abr 25, 2008, 12:09 pm

>> 19 : Well now, that just depends on how impatient you are. :D

If I need a book *now* for something I'm working on and need to get done, I'll first try the local academic libraries, and then look online.

But when I'm just trying to build my collection? You can find anything in used bookstores eventually. I decided to start collecting a certain series in a particular edition about a year and a half ago. In just that much time, I've found all but two of the books in the series - in the matching, forty-year-old paperback editions - in good condition. And I got to visit neat old used bookstores in six states in the meantime, and two more to keep poking around for! (And I actually know a store that has one that I'm missing, it's just not in good enough condition for me.)

And I still haven't found time to read them all, so it's not like the eighteen months I waited was a real hardship.

I have a ~300 book specialty nonfiction library I've built up the same way, over years. I find that the great books will come to you eventually if you wait, and meanwhile I can pick up interesting books on the topic that I've never heard of and learn things I'd never have expected.

#20 - that's the other benefit of real stores! People at the online shops know the price of everything (and the value of nothing) so there's much less chance of finding unexpected treasures. If anything does kill the used bookshops, it'll be the increasing trend of pricing everything for ebay rather than walk-in customers and skimming off the best stock for online sales.

Abr 25, 2008, 2:30 pm

#21 I'll admit to being pretty impatient when it comes to books :)

I get the sense that most online booksellers would rather be able to maintain their physical stores, but feel forced into the online model by rising costs (rent, insurance, etc.). That's a shame, of course; I really do wish that the used bookstore market stabilizes and remains vibrant. (Though I've also talked to online/catalogue booksellers who are glad to have shed the troubles and stresses of running a physical store.)

I find that I'm unlikely to buy an expensive book that I happened to stumble across while browsing; I wonder whether used booksellers have an easier time moving expensive inventory through online sales to schmucks like me than through reliance on random foot traffic.

Abr 25, 2008, 2:37 pm

> 21

that's the other benefit of real stores! People at the online shops know the price of everything

Actually, the internet is affecting the prices of books at "real" used bookstores, as many will gear their prices to those at the online shops. (In fact, one place I go to a lot will pencil in, under their price, something like "3 copies on ABE; $15-25").

Abr 25, 2008, 2:38 pm

>22 jfclark:

I almost never buy expensive used books online. If I'm going to spend a good amount of money on something, I like to see it in person. While I rarely will buy an expensive book I come upon while browsing, I will sometimes ask the owner to hold the book while I think about it and come back a few days later to buy.

Abr 25, 2008, 3:29 pm

i love used bookstores in little-explored places, like a trip to NYC, or coming upon one while lost in the berkshires. once i've found a used bookstore in a more convenient location, i tend to devour the books they have that might interest me and move on. buying used books online has opened a whole new area of keep-me-poor, and, add to that this site where i'm constantly finding interesting books in all of your library lists, i'm sure to be buried in books. i mean, literally, buried, since i won't be able to afford a coffin, they'll just have to dig a hole and dump me in with all my poetry and all my CDs (ok, so i have just as much a compulsion to collect music).

luckily, i haven't found many used pet stores.

Abr 25, 2008, 4:56 pm

>25 tcw: tcw - You might try visiting Troubadour Books in N. Hatfield, Mass. (near Northampton). As I recall, they have quite a lot of poetry, and it's one of those meandering shops with books everywhere.

Much as I love used bookstores, I find that using a combination of sources works best: used bookstores, library sales and shops, thrift and charity shops, BookMooch, online stores, ABE, eBay. I agree with melannin that how you shop for books can reflect how impatient you are. Sometimes I want a book NOW, but then it arrives from some online vendor and sits in my TBR stack for months. (That's when it taunts me by also showing up at the library bookshop for 25 cents, of course!) Other times I'll discover and buy a hitherto unknown book in a used bookstore (one that has that characteristic used bookstore smell and creaky floorboards and books piled everywhere), and I'll take the book home and wonder how I could have lived without it. That's a very different - but perhaps not a better? - book-buying experience from seeing an obscure book I thought I'd never run across on eBay, and I can't imagine why no one has bought it yet, and the book arrives, and I jump up and down with excitement.

It's funny - sometimes I'll visit a used bookstore and browse for a while and not see anything of interest and I have no problem leaving and moving on to someplace else; on the other hand, sometimes I'll get the feeling that there is something in that store that wants to come home with me and I have to keep looking till I find it. Does that ever happen to anyone else? Hmm. I guess it does sound a little insane. I guess book lunacy takes many forms.

Abr 25, 2008, 5:20 pm

>MaggiO - twice now I've been driving in the vicinity of the local library and gotten grabbed by a sudden desire to go in and look at their used book rack, and both times I found books I'd been looking for for ages!

...When I go in other times they almost never have anything cool.

Abr 27, 2008, 1:08 am

>26 MaggieO:, 27

Absolutely, that does happen. We have a wealth of used bookstores in the Portland area (and while entering venues in LT Local, I found some I didn't know!). I visit Powell's frequently for their author events, but the others only when I happen to be in the immediate area.

Every once in a while, I will have an overwhelming urge to visit a bookstore I haven't been to in a while, and almost inevitably I will find something that I have been looking for.

Not sure if that is an indication of some magical ability of books to call their future owners, or (much more likely) proof that my wishlist is too long!

Abr 27, 2008, 12:42 pm

I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one who gets these book vibes, melannen and oregonobsessionz! I rather like the idea that some books have a magical ability to reach out to their new owners. (After all, it can't be true that our wishlists are too long!)

Abr 27, 2008, 2:36 pm

I think when it comes to used books, it's old library books sales or yard sales which win out. Used book stores often have prices I'm not necessarily willing to shell out. Library sales sell books for 1-2$ and you can find some great stuff there. Often the books aren't even 'library books' (meaning no stamps/call number stickers) but are just donated books- so you can find things in great condition.

Abr 28, 2008, 7:28 am

MaggieO, count me among the ones with 'book vibes'. It happens to me all the time!

Abr 28, 2008, 4:20 pm

MaggieO et al,
The book vibe is real. When I started this topic I was on a book buying vacation. As I drove through one town I noticed a sign at the library advertising a sale. I decided to stop and sure enough there a book I didn't know existed in a series I am collecting.

There is a local bookstore that has so much stuff that they have to double shelve it. Once in a while I get the feeling I should spend the time and dig behind the first row. All of a sudden, there it is, the book I didn't know I was looking for until I saw it.

Abr 29, 2008, 1:53 am

>10 LamSon:

If you're ever out here in sunny California, there's a thread in the californian LT group on favorite bookstores in the state.

Mar 19, 2009, 12:06 pm

I'm terribly late to this thread, but need to chime in. I live in Illinois as well, and have watched several used bookstores and antique/book stores vanish. I love to touch a book before I buy it, but now buy most of my obscure or obsessive needs online, through Abe, Amazon used or ebay. I'm always anxious to receive the book and usually find the condition to be as expected. If I ever sell any of my books online, I will probably have ridiculously long descriptions. The shipping fees make me crazy. I'd rather pay tax. Better yet, I prefer a rummage sale, estate sale, used book sale or library sale.

I found this free listing service for used book sales,
it's nice, but we discovered as charity sellers that they bring out voracious, scanner enhanced book snatchers who change the leisurely aspect of any sale. And so it goes.

Happy book hunting, you never know what you're going to find!

Mar 19, 2009, 12:40 pm

>34 readaholic12:
I've been through Illinois several times and always enjoyed going to the used bookstores. I went again last year, after a span of about two years, and I was shocked at the number of stores that were gone. It will be a sad day when all the used stores are gone with only Half Price Books left to serve the used market. I shop at HP Books, but it's one of those love/hate things.

Mar 31, 2009, 9:07 pm

Okay, I'm late to this thread too, but I have a used book website. It's ideal for buying and selling mainstream books and novels from recent hardbacks to mass-market pulp. Nothing that would compete with the goods of a local bookstore though and it's easier than eBay or Amazon. Would a site like this have a place in the online vs. local bookstore world?

>34 readaholic12: "we discovered as charity sellers that they bring out voracious, scanner enhanced book snatchers who change the leisurely aspect of any sale"
I too have taken some elbow and knees at the Friends Of the Library book sales. ;-)

Abr 5, 2009, 5:18 pm

> 36 lol. At the last sale I chaired, and the first we advertised to the reseller community, we were shocked to see dozens lining up hours before the sale, and more shocked to see them grabbing entire boxes of books to hide in a corner and scan for high dollar resales. One man took all the Golden Books - hundreds of them - and hid them under his coat. I had to ask several of them to calm down, since this was primarily a literacy function designed to get books cheaply in the hands of elementary school kids, with leftovers going to disadvantaged schools, the court system, overseas troops and Goodwill. Greed took the wind out of my sails!I hope this year's committee is more careful about where they advertise, as I expect the current economy will ratchet the greed up a few notches!

I just started listing my unwanted books on, but the competition is fierce, and I have little expectation of selling many.

Jan 19, 2010, 12:12 pm

If you are bonkers so am I as I also enjoy the smell that you get particularly from an older cloth bound volume, even if this is nicotine (non-smoker). Maybe this is a fetish but I have seen this referred to in
(The Private Papers of Heny Ryecroft) by (George Gissing):
"For one thing, I know every book of mine by its scent, and have but to put my nose between the pages to be reminded of all sorts of things".

Fev 25, 2010, 7:55 pm

I enjoy roaming the stacks of various town libraries, but love used bookstores even more.

Lately I've been picking up some 75 cent wonders on But the postage (ie, energy) cost is so high they aren't so affordable. So we have a product that the seller can't make any money on, and the buyer can't afford. Sigh...

Mar 23, 2010, 1:36 am

I love browsing Goodwill and used book stores for used books! The ones that I have found recently have all come from Goodwill! They do have some good finds, but it also depends on what you're looking for. For instances, I don't read romance novels like Harlequin, so I avoid those when looking at Goodwill and used book stores.

Editado: Mar 27, 2010, 12:37 am

I buy books both ways. I love to browse used bookstores, thrift stores and garage sales for finds. I also love to get great deals on reading copies and hard to find items on amazon. Basically, if it involves books and their coming into my possession, I am in favor of it. And no, swizzlestick, you aren't wrong about that lovely smell, unlike anything else in the world.

I recently paid top dollar for one trilogy in a series of linked science fiction novels by Julian May at one of my local used bookstores. I knew that they would be cheaper on amazon as I had been meaning to by this section of the trilogy for a while, but I wanted to support the store and I felt like these were magically put there for me. I guess I will join the club of those who get vibes from books. I then ordered the duology in the series that I was still missing from amazon. I love getting books in the mail and love that it is cheap, but nothing replaces the unexpected find. I try to spread my money around so that we continue to have both.

A listing of some personal favorites in terms of used bookstores across the country includes:

Bookhaven - 22nd and Fairmount in Philadelphia, PA - This one is really amazing in terms of fine editions and has a great cat!
Book Trader - 2nd and Market in Philadelphia, PA - Also includes cats, inclduing one that came home with me.
Sam Weller's - 254 Main Street, Salt Lake City, Utah - Alas, no cats
Central Book Exchange - 1100 East and 2100 South, Salt Lake City, Utah - This one has a nice dog.

Oh, and for overstocks and remainders, I love Edward R Hamilton on-line. Not only fiction and non-fiction, but several specialties for hobbies and crafts and other esoterica at very reasonable prices. Worth checking out if you haven't heard of it already.

Does anyone else have the problem of not wanting to return the books they get from the library, to the library? Or deciding to buy a book after reading it? Or not being in the mood for the correct library book when it is actually checked out? I have reading moods and what I want to read depends on where I am or want to be. The library doesnt save me the money that people always convince me it should. Anyone else have these problems?

Mar 29, 2010, 8:16 pm

Anastasia - I have reading moods, just like you, and there've been many times when I returned a book to the library unread, because I found I just wasn't in the mood for it yet, even ones I've put on hold and finally received. I don't use the library for books for myself very much anymore. I used it quite a lot up to a couple of years ago, figuring I could get that wonderful book acquisition buzz without actually buying books. Unfortunately, it didn't actually stop me from buying books, which I put aside without reading, because I had so many books from the library to read and return!

Mar 29, 2010, 10:35 pm

Thanks sandragon - I am glad I am not the only one with problems with the library and book moods and book buying. I have a pile from the library right now - all books I want to read, but I also have a pile of new acquisitions from used bookstores and the like. I just know that I am going to end up buying a few of the books in my library pile because their time will not come before it is time to return them. And, using the library doesnt in fact stop me from buying books either. And I too have returned books that I waited for.....the library just doesn't work in its intended way for me. But everybody keeps telling me that I will save money.

Abr 1, 2010, 9:54 am

The GREAT thing about libraries is that you can hold the book in your hand and decide whether you NEED TO OWN IT before dropping your dime.

Abr 1, 2010, 9:29 pm

A good point #44 - the library has convinced me both that I had to own something and that I could just read the library copy.

Abr 2, 2010, 12:18 pm

I tend to use libraries more for borrowing audiobooks these days. I can't afford those and I've been able to find many works that I enjoy but don't feel the need to own.

Abr 14, 2010, 12:27 pm

Re your last para, I only now use local library for non-fiction eg maths textbooks where i only want to refer to a specific chapter.

Also, as i only read in small "bite-size" chunks, which means a lengthy period to go through a book, prefer to buy fiction either form Amazon or charity stores

Find my reading moods depend on the season and the time of day. Most enjoy reading after manual work/exercise, particularly in the summer when the light quality is best. Dark winter nights should be the ideal time to read but find do not like prolonged reading by artificial light.

I particularly enjoy rereading a book so cannot say that I will ever take on the challenge to read a list of books in a given time. Are there any avid rereaders out there?

Abr 20, 2010, 4:31 pm

#47 - I am an avid re-reader of my many favorites and I am also a reader who reads according to mood, season, whim and whimsy, so yes, I understand why a list of books in a given time can be a daunting affair. That said, though I have been trying to join some of the LT discussion groups and am hoping to read Buddenbrooks in the time allotted so that I can participate, but we shall just have to hope that both mood and timing are serendipitous.

Maio 28, 2010, 1:20 am

I preffer physical stores for used books (especially when I'm buying a LoA, ML, or EL). I like to be able to pick up the book and inspect it in person before spending money on it. Looking at pictures will never quite replace being able to have the book in your hands presale IMHO.

Maio 28, 2010, 1:34 am

Bookstores can lead to finds you would never get to any other way. I love them. But, it is also so much easier to get specific used titles than it used to be. The fact that you can find almost any book you would ever seek online, easily, is clearly a change for the better.

Maio 28, 2010, 9:05 pm

I do like the serendipity aspect and atmosphere of browsing a used bookstore and living near Chicago, there are good places available.

I note the conversation above about libraries; I think the same remark applies to them as well. Between ages 6 and 17 I lived about 150 feet from a Chicago (good) branch library. In those innocent days, I don't ever remember being told not to go there alone, even at age 6. I came to regard it as MY library and haunted the place. In general, I still have little drive to own most books and that fits my thrifty nature.

Dez 3, 2012, 11:21 am

What I don't like the most about online used books shopping is the shipping fees. I live in Canada and most of the time, I pay three time the price of the book in shipping cost. The other day, I bought 10 used books from amazon but even if it was from the same seller, they charged me 6.95$ for each. It must be a commission thing with amazon.

Dez 3, 2012, 9:35 pm

Simon, there are other online book sellers that don't charge as much as Amazon.

I have used a lot. Most of the books I have purchased have reasonable shipping fees. Some of the sources are from countries other than the USA, and if you can find a book from Canada, it might be cheaper to ship. gives a price break if you order more than one book from the same source.

Dez 4, 2012, 9:39 am doe not charge for shipping. I am sure it's built into the price. Given that, the prices seem reasonable.

Dez 4, 2012, 11:23 am

I live in Canada, and I find the I get the best prices from in the UK. They have free delivery for two or more items, and I find their prices slightly lower than BetterWorld. They have lots of special offers, too.

Dez 4, 2012, 11:44 am

Try The Book Depository They're in the UK, but they ship free worldwide, and their prices are competitive. I needed a book for my Italian literature class, and the price was less than Amazon, so with no shipping costs it was practically a steal!

On top of that, it took less than two weeks for the book to get from the UK to the US.

Editado: Dez 4, 2012, 4:15 pm

Domestically in the US, the shipping charge is 3.99 from resellers on Amazon. I've used Amazon to sell books and you can generally ship the book for about 2, so the other 2 might cover Amazon's commission or the packing material. Once or twice the shipping was over 3.99 but NBD.

I recycle packing material so I've never spent much other than buying rolls of packing tape. Even a brown paper bag correctly cut, wrapped a few times and solidly taped provides much, much better shipping protection for books than something thrown into a bubblewrap envelope or a box.

If a person bought a few things and I could lump it all together I'd send some of that 3.99 their way. I know on the other side of things I've emailed about this ahead of time when I've purchased multiple items from a seller, especially on a abebooks type website. Some of the amazon resellers have a page that shows an additional book from the seller with a price of a $1 extra. But shipping to Canada might be the hitch...

I can usually find the seller online and ask to buy from them directly, especially if they have a brick and mortar establishment and set up a normal shipping charge rather than getting charged per item. Sometimes there's also a discount that you wouldn't get or see if you purchase from them using Amazon or other website.

But I have also bought books I've been searching for at such a low price that I didn't necessarily care that a shipping charge was added for each.

Edward R Hamilton is a good place for remainders. Midtown Scholar is an awesome place I've purchased from in the past. They have an actual store, but I haven't been there...I haven't been to a good used book store in a while though, partly because I'm getting very sensitive to dust.

A final thing, for the fussy, a library doesn't always keep a book forever and there are times a book never gets returned or if it's not circulating and looking shabby, ends up in the book sale (no library is Borges-infinite). But a healthy mix of borrowing and owning (and selling) is my motto. I'd like my library to be so utterly condensed at some maybe two tall bookcases.

Dez 4, 2012, 3:46 pm

Thanks guys, I will check it out

Fev 2, 2013, 7:10 pm

Shipping within Canada is ridiculously expensive. Russell Books on Abebooks offers free shipping within Canada, though they do mark up each book by $3. offers free shipping over $50 and doesn't mark up each book. It's the largest bookstore in Canada, so there's a pretty good selection.