Favorite used book sites online?
May 3, 2007 8:38 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite resources for buying dirt-cheap used books online?

I ask because I'm beginning research on a new book and have to purchase a number of standard and genre-classic books that I see advertised on sites like Amazon for $0.01 - $1.00.

But I don't want to get gouged on shipping seeing as how I will have to pay $3.00 - $5.00 per book. Any suggestions about how to avoid this? Or, any suggestions on great sites for used books in general?
posted by willie11 to Shopping (21 answers total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've heard of http://thriftbooks.com/

My friend used it and got amazingly cheap deals on computer books. I haven't used the service myself though.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 8:51 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Powell's Books, the largest independent used and new bookstore in the World.
posted by X4ster at 9:04 PM on May 3, 2007

Amazon's "used and new" scored me a few good books for around $3/ea.
posted by hutta at 9:05 PM on May 3, 2007

(Er, sorry. I just read the rest of the question. I was multitasking.)
posted by hutta at 9:06 PM on May 3, 2007

Any chance a book swap site would work for you?
posted by jeri at 9:20 PM on May 3, 2007

Best answer: I heart ABEBooks. It's a website for independent new & used books stores & sellers. So you're buying direct from generally smaller stores or individuals. I have yet to have a bad experience from anyone I've purchased from. Pretty much anything you'd find in a good old fashioned used bookstore (Magazines, Books, Records, Maps, etc), you'll find on ABE Books.

One experience I had with a seller was when I was looking for a particular edition of a book. It happened to be a Star Trek novel published in the 80's that was misprinted by Pocket Books and had been recalled because the version printed was the Author's personal version that happened to be a little slashy. It was later reprinted in the originally intended form. I asked the seller if the book he had matched certain criteria (A reference in one version that doesn't appear in the other and the fact that the first version had raised text on the cover) and he checked his inventory for me. The book cost me a $1 but they took the time to find the book, find a quote in it for me, and email me a confirmation.

As I said, they'll go the extra mile for you... but what you'll really love is theABE Free Shipping search engine. It only looks for books from sellers who offer free shipping.
posted by aristan at 9:23 PM on May 3, 2007 [4 favorites]

Also thought I'd mention the fact that if you want, you can narrow down the search on ABE by location. So you can also find sellers in your area who have the book if you need it fast.
posted by aristan at 9:26 PM on May 3, 2007

Check out Amazon.co.uk It's a strange but true fact that even with the dollars (CDN or US) to pounds conversion you can often still get a better deal on second hand books that way. Many of the listings that show up on amazon.co.uk will ship to Canada and the US, but for some reason don't show up on the .com site.

I've done side by side comparision a few times and found that (strangly enough) some UK sellers ship to Canada for less than it costs to ship here from the states.

posted by tiamat at 9:43 PM on May 3, 2007

Addall.com is a good resource.
posted by buriedpaul at 9:52 PM on May 3, 2007

My favorite way to find used books (and get my old books into circulation) is PaperBackSwap. Because you're swapping, you only pay for the postage, which works out to about $1.70 per book. Pretty sweet.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:30 PM on May 3, 2007

Have you tried BetterWorld.com? You end up paying about 1/2 to 1/3rd the cover price, US shipping is less than a dollar, and you get to help fund various literacy programs with your purchase.

If you need a specific edition, this may not be ideal, but if you just need the books to read, I recommend it.
posted by lychee at 11:28 PM on May 3, 2007

Seconding jeri and BookMooch, especially if you have a library of paperbacks you're trying to get rid of.
posted by gc at 12:24 AM on May 4, 2007

Best answer: Don't spend too much time trying to avoid the $3.49 shipping fee from Amazon; on May 15 the cost of standard shipping increases to $3.99 (to correspond with the US Postal Service rate increase). Even a "penny book" will cost you $4.

Amazon recently launched a program for its sellers called "Fulfillment by Amazon" that makes used books eligible for free shipping. You'll see a "Fulfilled by Amazon.com" badge next to the 3rd party listing for these books. But it's a new program, so only certain titles are offered this way. Also, since sellers have to pay Amazon fees for storage and handling of these items, you won't find any books that cost less than a few dollars.
posted by reeddavid at 2:38 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thirding Bookmooch and PaperbackSwap. They both have a great selection, and you can't go worng with getting a book for free.
posted by reenum at 6:19 AM on May 4, 2007

Bookcrossing. It's a book swapping/gifting site with more of a community element. I've swapped quite a few books with other users on there and you can choose to only trade with people close to you if you need to save on postage. Has the added benefit of being able to find out what the person who you sent your book to thought of it. Which is sometimes interesting. And sometimes not.
posted by MrMustard at 6:37 AM on May 4, 2007

Yeah, the shipping kills you on those 1 cent books. I nth looking on paperbackswap or a similar swapping site. If it's a unique/rare kind of book, you probably have to suck it up and pay the shipping. (I had to do this for my thesis a few years ago, so I know what you're going thru!).
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:47 AM on May 4, 2007

Following up on aristan, AbeBooks also lets you browse and search books by reseller. Once you find a book you want, look to the right in the "bookseller information" and you can search for more from that reseller, which can save a lot on shipping.

Also, sometimes bookfinder.com returns more results for me than abebooks; I usually search both when I'm looking for something.
posted by mediareport at 7:40 AM on May 4, 2007

All this and nobody's mentioned bookburro? It's a firefox plugin that automatically scans booksellers for the best price whenever you're browsing books. It takes a lot of my money away.

Bookburro will even scan local libraries, if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by tsmo at 7:59 AM on May 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

If you'll pardon a non-online suggestion, here's a very long list of D.C. area bookstores.

Besides the sites already mentioned, I generally check half.com.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 12:25 PM on May 4, 2007

I've had good luck first finding the books at Amazon, then running a Google search for the bookseller and visiting their actual website (if one exists). Often they have more items available than they list at Amazon (so you're more likely to get multiple items from one seller), and their shipping fees are almost always less. YMMV.
posted by Jaie at 1:57 PM on May 4, 2007

Two more options similar to paperback swap:

Title Trader
Frugal Reader
posted by mattbucher at 9:08 AM on May 11, 2007

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