Years ago I got a lot of helpful comments on a rather long post I wrote on finding used books online. (The comments are gone: Echo’s demise was also the demise of my blog’s old comments.) In yesterday’s post about a strain of political science books, I found myself veering into the same old territory. I think a single paragraph on book buying would be adequate now, and I reproduce it below from yesterday’s post. But I’m sure the paragraph is incomplete, and I suspect it’s inaccurate. Do you have any suggestions for improving this summary?
Three good steps for finding free or cheap books: (1) showroom Amazon (many would say it’s only fair) using its customer reviews and its “Look Inside” feature where available, or Google Books, to see what you want, (2) look for free e-book downloads at Project Gutenberg, archive.org’s texts section, Open Library, or Amazon’s Kindle store and the like (usually books out of copyright) (you can borrow many e-books at these sites, too), and, barring that, (3) shop for used hard-copy books, starting at bookfinder.com. Abebooks.com and alibris.com often shine there. And three guidelines for buying used books: (1) hardbacks are often way cheaper than paperbacks, (2) older editions are often way cheaper than newer editions, and (3) (contrary to all reason) well-marked books are often way cheaper than “clean” books.
(I thank Margaret, Julie, and Nancy for their helpful suggestions. I’ve amended the above paragraph with them.)