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A Fair Price For a Used Compact Edition of the OED
December 22, 2012 9:11 PM   Subscribe

What is a fair price to pay for a used Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (Reprint or possibly original 1971 edition) that looks to be in good shape, including the slipcase & magnifying glass? Used on Amazon looks to be about $50+Shipping to Canada, but I am leery to buy something like this sight unseen; a local used/rare book store has it for $100, and I'm not sure if that is a bargain (The latest edition is $275 on Amazon.ca) or if I could find it cheaper.
posted by Alvy Ampersand to Shopping (10 answers total)
 
I'm sure someone more qualified will come along and answer, however my experience has been that given a book with multiple highly reviewed sellers, you'll get a good average price. There could very well be other considerations depending on what you're looking for - like that slipcase & magnifying glass. If the $50 seller offers those and a book in the condition you find acceptable, I'd go for it and ignore the pricey ones - there are ALWAYS expensive versions of common books.... which I assume are people preying upon the ignorant.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:18 PM on December 22, 2012


I have seen more than one of these abandoned on the sidewalk in Montreal. I have one myself, hauled home from the trash. They're not rare so they're not worth a lot of money: they were a loss leader from a commercial book club for some years and many people used to join the book club just to get one. Now they can look things up on the internet instead, the book just takes up space.
posted by zadcat at 9:26 PM on December 22, 2012


people preying upon the ignorant/seen more than one of these abandoned on the sidewalk

Yeah, the book club mention in Wikipedia made me wonder about availability of copies; I've only become aware of the the Compact Edition recently (Reading dictionary-related AskMes!), so when I saw it in the store today, I had a split reaction of 'Awesome!' and 'Maybe these're common as catshit and I just never noticed them before...')
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:34 PM on December 22, 2012


Here's what abebooks has. Here's what ebay has.
posted by bolognius maximus at 11:59 PM on December 22, 2012


The older edition was two volumes with four reduced size pages per page, and the new edition is only a single volume with nine pages per page.

The old 4-1 edition has an advantage in that if you have good eyes you can do quick look-ups without the magnifying glass.

The new 9-1 edition is handier as a single volume and comes with a beautiful flat field magnifier, which is a beautiful tool in it's own right.
posted by fairmettle at 5:25 AM on December 23, 2012


> The old 4-1 edition has an advantage in that if you have good eyes you can do quick look-ups without the magnifying glass.

Yes, I bought mine used (for $25, but this was back in 1980 or so) without the magnifying glass, and I read it easily, even the small print.
posted by languagehat at 6:33 AM on December 23, 2012


I had a conversation about this with a used-book dealer about a month ago - he said that these things are really not worth much; they are heavy (so hard to ship), and nearly anything in them can be found online. I wouldn't pay more than $50, and bookstores only give $10-15 (USD) for them.
posted by dbmcd at 1:09 PM on December 23, 2012


> nearly anything in them can be found online.

This is absolutely not true, and any used-book dealer who told you that is lying. The OED charges a whole lot of money for online access to the dictionary, for good reason.
posted by languagehat at 2:21 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The OED charges a whole lot of money for online access to the dictionary, for good reason.

If you're a library member you may be able to get access as part of your membership. For example, if I log in as a member of the Grande bibliothèque in Montreal I can access a lot of reference works from home, and the OED is one of them.
posted by zadcat at 7:59 AM on December 25, 2012


Thanks for the responses, everyone; if I can haggle the guy down a bit perhaps I'll get it, but otherwise, I should probably just my eyes peeled. Much thanks!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:25 AM on December 25, 2012


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