Perhaps even more than reading books I like shopping for books. There is something about an unread book that holds so much potential, particularly a brand new book. However over the last few years I have learnt the important thing about books is that they should be read as much as possible and the best way to do that is to read them and pass them on to someone else, so I have started to appreciate cheap and second hand books.
Here are some of my favourite places to get cheap book:
I love AbeBooks for two reasons, it supports individual booksellers and it is the closest you can get online to browsing for books. I have bought text books and hard to find books from both British and American booksellers and that shows one the great features of Abebooks, they don’t penalise you for where you live as a customer or a seller, but allow you to make the decision of which country to purchase your books.
Each seller selects their own shipping times and prices as well as the item price and this is why I find it similar to browsing in real shops because you have the opportunity to analyse the different options (price, shipping time and book condition) and choose the one that is more suitable for you, for instance when I was studying for my diploma I chose to buy several text books from American booksellers because they were the cheapest option and I could afford the additional shipping time.
Amazon also support individual sellers through their Amazon Marketplace and is a feature I have used several times when I haven’t been able to find the book on AbeBooks. Amazon obviously is renowned for its large range of books and is probably the first site most people consider when they are looking for a book, so it is great they have this feature, however I don’t find it as fulfilling an experience because all the books have the same shipping costs so there is little requirement to browse.
Bookcrossing is not just a website, it is a movement (and is even included in the dictionary). It is a fantastic idea where people share their love of books by giving them away free, usually by leaving them in public places for others to pick them up; and by including a code in the book it is possible to track the journey of the book and people’s opinions, here is an example of a well travelled book. As bookcrossers love sharing books they are always coming up with new methods of passing them one, but here are some of the most common one.
- Go hunting, the locations of all the books released are shown on the website so you get a hint of where you may be able to find a book in the “wild”, the question is can you find it before someone else?
- Visit an Official Bookcrossing Zone where there is always a good supply of books ready to be picked up
- Join a book ring where a book is passed from person to person through the post, these are a great way of reading books if you are not in a hurry to read a specific book, just don’t sign up for too many because they usually all arrive at the same time!
- Setup a bookcrossing wishlist so other people know what books you want to read and you may also find yourself invited to join a book ring or a RABCK (random act of bookcrossing kindness) may arrive in the post as a surprise
- Join a local bookcrossing discussion group and maybe attend meetups where there are never a shortage of books
I am really enjoying bookmooch, an international book swapping website that has been really well thought out. When you fulfill a request to send out a book you gain a point that you can use to request books from other people. A very simple and easy concept that in my opinion works very well, especially as it has meant I’ve been able to request some books I can’t buy in the UK. However, the one feature that I think makes this website a winner is the wishlist feature which sends you an email when a book you want is added to the site.
Readit Swapit is more of a traditional book swap book site in the UK (I think there are similar ones for the USA but obviously I haven’t used them) where if you want a book, the current owner must want something from your available books. Although I have had some success through this site I don’t find it as useful as Bookmooch because I am not willing to accept swaps for books I’m only slightly interesed in reading. I have also found it frustrating as there is no mechanism to alert you to books that you want to read, so it is necessary to search the site each visit.