24 Ways to Help you Buy Cheap Used Books

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in Frugality,How To...,Savings

Books are a guilty pleasure of mine.  Frankly I don’t feel that guilty about it, most everything I’ve ever learned has come from a book or augering in spectacularly in a heap of flames and rubble.  The book route is much less painful.  To that end I love a good book that I can refer to often and although the geek within me would love an e-reader I just can’t let go of those precious pages.  So where is the best place to get a good deal on a book, used or new?  I have some usual places I check, but thought I could create the ultimate compendium of sites to find the lowest price, so here it is.

So for the test I set out to find the absolute cheapest price possible on The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing, a book I recently checked out from the Library and want to add to my physical collection.  To get a good baseline I used it’s ISBN-10 number of 0470067365 as a basis to be sure I was comparing apples to apples.  So I started with an old Favorite, mind you I’m looking for the cheapest price I don’t care if it’s used or new.  Unless I call out specifically these prices are for used.

Also please note to never forget your local library, I had this book in my hot little hands in only 3 days for free.  Queue up a bunch on your hold list and you’ll be reading forever.  But for me there are just those books that you want to own.  This is one of them.

Mainstream Book Sites

I started off by hitting the usual suspects, the ones your probably quite aware.  There might be a reason that they are the big guys.

Half.com which is now owned by Ebay.  Results?  $13.99 with media mail shipping.  Surely I could do better than that.

Amazon.com the old standby.  Results?  $13.64 from one of their used merchants.  Hmm not making much progress with those 35 cents.

Barnes and Noble.  Getting worse $15.16 without shipping, new the only option.

Powell’s Books. Hmm $18.95 with free shipping for new. Okay time to go for the less known sites.

Smaller Online Book Retailers and Marketplaces

These are sites that are smaller and nature and/or may include services for people to list their own books forsale.

A1Books. A marketplace of books, and happens to be one of the lowest prices of all the sites I used.  They have a huge collection of ebooks as well.  Price $13.42

AbeBooks.com. A marketplace and community site found our book for $14.11 new.

Alibris. This is a good place to look for books especially older or out of print books and pulls in a lot of smaller retailers.  It left me short though, best they could do is $14.54 including shipping.

Biblio.com. A marketplace, best they could do is $14.05.

eCampus.com. This is not just a good place to buy and sell textbooks they have a good supply of general books as well including a used marketplace.  Best they could do was $14.76 for a new copy.

Valore Books. Primarily a textbook service but will search from many of the other common used book sites, pulled up the A1 book that many of the others have for $14.74.

Book Search Services

These are sites that do some or all of the legwork for you.  Simply enter your book and it will take care of the rest.

AddAll. This is another search site that aggregates book stores, but using some form of false logic gives prices that don’t seem to match up when you go to their actual sites listed.  It also doesn’t list the shipping prices.  Skip this one in your searching.

AllBookstores.com. Yet another search aggregator, although doesn’t have quite as comprehensive list as the others listed as Amazon as the best price $13.85.

Bing Shopping. Don’t forget about Bing.  You’ll find the same books from the same places but if you want to use their cashback system you can actually get it cheaper.  In this case they linked to Alibris with 5% cashback so a total price of $14.05 not the cheapest and you’ll have to wait for your other 5%.

BookFinder.com. Take some of the work out your search and this one was able to find one of the the cheapest from A1books for $13.72 including shipping for a new copy no less.  This is a nice simple site that lists the true cost of the book including shipping.

Booksprice.com. I didn’t hold much hope for this service it seemed much like an aggregator for making money but it did find a seller that others did not, bringing up TextbooksRus Marketplace listing our book new with shipping for $13.42 matching bookfinder.com it also included the A1 link that many of the others did as well.

FetchBook.Info.  Gave about the same information as BookFinder including almost every source I have listed above already, saving you the time to go look for others.

Google Product Search. Leave it to Google find the absolute lowest price on my book albeit by about 3 cents.  They located a book at Penn Grove Books for $13.38.  No other site turned up this small source, but they didn’t have as comprehensive list as the others.

Used Book Swap Services

Now if you are in for a little more work to save even more money you can try some of these swap services.  You can sign up and list the items you have available and then in exchange for shipping off your items you can get other items for free not including your shipping.  These is a pretty great deal.  Here are some places to give that a try.

Bookins. A good swapping site, they have quite a collection unfortunately they don’t have my book.  They do have the Millionaire next door, snag that if you get a chance.

BookMooch. A ho-hum book swapping service that doesn’t seem to have very many books available for swapping.  No dice for my book.  They’ve got you Harry Potter fans covered though.

PaperBackSwap. This is a fantastic site and an absolutely fantastic idea.  Simply start off by listing 10 books of yours that you agree to ship out and then you can search through over 4 million titles (at the time of this writing) that you can order up free.  Unfortunately nobody had The Boglehead’s Guide to Investing at this point in time.  You can put books on your wishlist and when they become available they’ll email you to let you know when you can order them.

Swaptree. This is another service similar to PaperBackSwap but you are not limited to just books you can also add in music, movies and games as items to trade for a book you are interested in.  Sadly my book is not available here either.  SwapTree is a little different as well because they actually work to make trades of several items to get what you want.  It’s not a credit system per se, I haven’t actually used it with success yet, but will keep trying.

TitleTrader. Another simplistic swapping service.  Not quite the caliber of others maybe because their logo is in black and white I’m not as impressed.  You can swap all kinds stuff here though like an Air Wick Vanilla Passion Automatic sprayer, but sadly not my book.

Other Places to Find Used Book Deals Online

Craigslist.  Yes people actually sell books on Craig’s List.  Your mileage may vary here, no luck for me on this one.  Definitely not my go to location.

LibraryThing. LibraryThing is an interesting site for book lovers.  You can catalog your books and it will also connect you up with people reading the same books.  If you are looking for a particular book you can search via ISBN or title like anywhere else it will show you members who have read this book some reviews and it also aggregates some places where you can see if it’s available for swapping.  It’s more about community than finding book deals but maybe the two can meet in the middle.

Conclusion

So what’s my plan of action looking for a book to purchase?  I’m totally hooked on the paperbackswap site.  I’m listing all sorts of old books that I couldn’t get a penny for, but people still seem to want, and filling up my shelves with some new books to read.  If that fails I’ll stick with my standby of starting at half.com and then bringing up booksprice.com  it’s a surprising jewel of a site that I’ve added to my list.  Do you have any others that I missed?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

kenyantykoon 2009/10/29 at 11:50 pm

in my country we do not have established book swap sites so the other way i use to feed my book addiction is e books that i find all over the internet. sometimes i stumble on new bestsellers. scribd is also a favorite site of mine

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john 2009/10/30 at 5:29 am

Great overview of the different options, almost all of which I was unaware of. I’m going to try paperback swap as I still have lot of books that I have not been able to sell on Amazon (I wrote a guide to selling books on Amazon if anyone is interested). I was a book hoarder for many years and would never have considered selling a book or swapping a book, but I’m past that now. Besides, it’s fun!
.-= john´s last blog ..Mini Technology Review ““ Quicken Premier 2010 =-.

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Craig 2009/10/30 at 8:41 am

I should buy more used books. I enjoy reading books and they are something I will spend money on full well knowing I will never read it again. I have bought a few used books on Amazon for less, should do that more or these other sites you recommend.

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Jack @ Master Your Card 2009/10/30 at 9:19 am

Great list! I’ve been using PaperBackSwap and Half.com – nice to see lots of alternatives. Personally, I like PBS the most, but the books I want aren’t always there. And I usually end up shooting myself in the foot with shipping at Half.com – I can never seem to buy just one book at a time…
.-= Jack @ Master Your Card´s last blog ..Get Low Rate Loans From Your Peers with Lending Club =-.

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Matt Jabs 2009/10/30 at 11:16 am

Beautiful… added to Delicious. Thanks for the resource.
.-= Matt Jabs´s last blog ..The Gazelle Has Left The Building! =-.

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Adam 2009/10/30 at 10:04 pm

Try sellbits.com. I’ve seen a lot of books being posted on there.

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Kosmo @ The Casual Observer 2009/11/01 at 7:20 am

How about good old eBay :)

I’ve had particular success finding “lots” of book on eBay – such as a dozen books by a particular author.

I also use half.com quite a bit. I once got 12 William X. Kienzle books for $20, shipped :)

I’ve also use Alibris.
.-= Kosmo @ The Casual Observer´s last blog ..Member Exclusive: The Cell Window =-.

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paul 2009/11/02 at 7:14 pm

Thanks Kosmo, I kind of lump eBay and Half.com together even though they are actually separate entities, good reminder.

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Netanya 2009/11/02 at 6:53 pm

Thanks for showing all the options for finding the best book prices online! Unfortunately, my budget will not allow me to shop at Borders, where you can easily expect to pay the top prices for books. This list will definitely help me find books that can fit my budget.

Netanya
Money Hackers Blog Ambassador

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