Buying second-hand books online - how to avoid multiple postage costs?
May 3, 2006 8:31 AM   Subscribe

How can I search for and buy second-hand books online without having to pay lots of postage fees to separate sellers?

Every so often I buy a bunch of second-hand books online - but often it ends up as expensive as first-hand because because the books come from different sellers, who each charge for postage. Is there an search engine that lets you search for multiple books from the same seller? abebooks and amazon are no good in this respect. uk-relevant answers especially appreciated. (alternative: suggest a uk secondhand bookstore with a very large selection of fantasy/sci-fi books)
posted by spiff101 to Shopping (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Amazon will let you search within a single seller's inventory. When you've found an item you want from one particular seller, there should be a link on the page saying "See other items from this seller". However, some amazon sellers have the system setup so that there is a single shipping charge for each item rather than one that takes multiple items into account, so you won't always save that way.

Alibris does something similar when you click through a seller's name: it takes you to a page that allows you to search that seller's inventory, which also has a count of how many items they currently have for sale. They do combined shipping. I think there are UK sellers in their pool, though alibris.co.uk is just a squatter portal, unfortunately.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:43 AM on May 3, 2006


Not in the UK, sorry, but Powell's is a huge bookseller in Portland, Oregon that has its entire new and used inventory online. They also sell through Amazon.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:49 AM on May 3, 2006


Similar AskMe here. I would always start with Bookfinder.com and maybe search a few books. I'd see if any booksellers came up multiple times and then start searching through their stock. Or, if you find a bookseller who is selling several books you're interested in, you can try just e-mailing them your longer list of books and ask nicely if they could check whether they have them in stock. They may even be able to get them for you even if they don't have them available (probably for a fee, though).
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 8:51 AM on May 3, 2006


At least in terms of Amazon, I'm not sure it's possible to combine shipping with the same seller, at least the way their reimbursement system set up. When you sell on Amazon, you get a fixed amount per item for shipping, which is why a lot of sellers will list used books and CDs for ridiculously low prices (like a penny)... they make it up because they get a shipping allowance of $2 or so per item.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:21 AM on May 3, 2006


To paraphrase PinkStainlessTail "Abebooks will let you search within a single seller's inventory. When you've found an item you want from one particular seller, there should be a link on the page saying 'More Books from this Seller'"
posted by Cuppatea at 9:22 AM on May 3, 2006


Here's a list of bookstores selling sf and a list of lists of bookstores. Browse for a few minutes and you'll find several choices for used sf in the UK, like this one.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:26 AM on May 3, 2006


I've had the same problem. I use abe books. I typically start with a book I want, and then search within that seller's list. Save on shipping that way.
posted by aeighty at 10:53 AM on May 3, 2006


I was the person who asked the question Uncle Glendinning linked to above. Basically, there is no perfect way to do this. I haven't found Abebooks interface especially user friendly. You can do a similar process with Half.com, where you search for one particular book and the you look for sellers with large inventories and search each seller separately.
posted by bove at 12:00 PM on May 3, 2006


you can try just e-mailing them your longer list of books and ask nicely if they could check whether they have them in stock

Yeah, I work in a bookstore with a good internet business and that happens regularly. We don't mind at all.
posted by mediareport at 7:48 AM on May 5, 2006


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