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Augment Your List of Where to Buy Used Books

By Edited Sep 28, 2015 2 6

Avid Secondhand Book Lovers Can Benefit From These Tips, Too!

The question of where to buy used books generally comes up when a hard-to-find book title is sought after, when an expensive textbook needs to be purchased or even still when a rare or out-of-print antiquarian novel becomes an in-demand title for book collectors. 

Do you like to buy used books versus paying for new books, as I do? Or are you primarily looking to save money on novels and textbooks by only buying inexpensive hardbacks or paperbacks?

Regardless of your needs, these tips will help you find the books you want to buy. Perhaps one of the below tips or websites suggestions will aid in your discovery of a rare first edition novel or lead to the purchase of a valuable collectible currently missing from your prized book collection.

I love searching for used books and delight in visiting used bookstores around town and in unfamiliar locales when I travel or take a road trip.

Used Novels and Hardcovers are More Difficult to Find

It's easy to find new hardcovers and paperbacks for sale online on Amazon.com or locally at independent booksellers or at Costco or at a neighborhood Barnes and Noble store.

Finding used books, however, is another story. Searching used bookstores takes time and the quality of used books varies greatly. Repeat visits to bookshops and thrift stores are generally the norm in order to find specific titles. While finding rare books and gently used books in good condition is sometimes a challenge, it's also an enjoyable pastime for many. It is also easier to find good used books when you know where to look for them and how to find rare literary treasures.

Common Knowledge for Some but Not Others

If you are an avid used book buyer you have learned where to find secondhand books and frequent a shortlist of bookshops dedicated to stocking near fine and gently used secondhand novels and paperbacks. Your list of online booksellers is most likely already bookmarked and you regularly check commonly-used websites, like Alibris or Biblio.ccom, to hunt for desired books.

If you don't buy used books often, however, your awareness of where to buy used books might not be very extensive. There are a considerable number of used booksellers that have an online presence in addition to their physical stores located across the country.  Likewise, there are also unconventional places to look for good quality used books.

Find Used Books in More Places Than You'd Think to Look

Nevertheless, for those that regularly buy used books and rare collectibles there still might be some surprises on the below website list which might further enhance anyone’s book searching results.

Searching Online and Around Town

There are a myriad of places where used books can be found and purchased. Book searches can be done online or in person at used bookshops, at most vintage shops and at thrift stores. Garage sales, estate sales, community rummage sales and library book sales are all good resources to look for inexpensively priced and gently used or unread used books. For library book sales across the U.S., use booksalefinder.com to discover the location of your nearest library book sale and upcoming library book sales in nearby cities and towns.

Searching online for books is the obvious choice for finding paperbacks and hardback novels available for sale at distant bookshops across the country and overseas that would be impractical and expensive to search for in person.

To perform a thorough and widespread book search, here is a comprehensive list of websites, in addition to the above places to look, that will help anyone further their efforts to locate desired books and elusive collectibles.

Search and Compare Prices on Numerous Websites

Start by searching online to quickly discover where to find a desired title or a collection of work by a specific author.

While you are reviewing book titles for sale, study and compare used book prices so you know how much to pay for used books and what prices seem either reasonable or extreme. Just because a book title is available for sale does not mean the book will actually sell for the price at which it is listed. I have watched the prices for specific book titles and prices stay constant for several years.  
Searching the Web Beyond Amazon.com and AbeBooks.com

Perhaps you are familiar with a number of the below websites. If not, visit the used books search websites below to purchase any secondhand or used book. Did you know that Goodwill has its own online auction website, too?

  1. Use Google Product Search
  2. Amazon.com
  3. AbeBooks.com
  4. Biblio.com
  5. Alibris.com
  6. AddALL.com
  7. eBay or Half.com
  8. Craigslist
  9. RubyLane.com
  10. Shop Goodwill.com
  11. Booksalefinder.com

AddALL.com and Others

To perform a wide-ranging book search of multiple online book retailers at one time, go to AddAll.com. This is terrific website searches the catalogs and inventories of booksellers across the globe.  

AddAll.com features all the major online bookselling websites and allows users looking for books to search and compare prices from more than 40 bookstores, 20,000 dealers and millions of books online rapidly and easily.

If you have never visited the Ruby Lane, this site hosts online stores for individual sellers specializing in selling vintage collectibles, art and jewelry, however, it also a good resource for finding good quality used books.

Author Fan Forums

Are you a fan of a specific author like I am of Georgette Heyer and her novels? If so, then perhaps join a fan message boards for your favorite author or seek out online reading groups.  Either might also lead you to copies of your favorite books or the specific editions you want to collect.

I recently discovered an online reading group for Georgette Heyer's books on the C19 web forum.  In here, other forum members list duplicate copies of her various book titles that they own and would like to sell. While I have yet to purchase a novel from a fan forum lead like the ones posted in this forum, fan forums for authors are a really good place to connect with other fans for buying used and new books.

You never know who you might strike up a conversation either online or amongst your friends and acquaintances that might have the exact copy of the book you would like to own. This has recently happened to me very unexpectedly, twice. As a result, I have been able to locate the few remaining book titles I have been looking for over the years.

Used Bookstore Owners and E-mail Alerts Can Help

Get to know the owners of local used bookstores, too.  Most booksellers do searches for their customers for free and many shop owners will call their patrons to advise them that the book they want has become available for sale. Increase your chances of finding rare books by also signing up for free e-mail alerts on many of the above websites. Did you know that you could also create a want list on Alibris or on AbeBooks.com, too?

It takes just a few seconds to create a want on AbeBooks.com. Simply enter a few specifics regarding the book you are searching for such as the title, author, binding of the book you are searching for and when the book gets listed for sale, users of this feature will receive an e-mail alert with listing details for the book. I created a want for hard to find first edition of Georgette Heyer's The Spanish Bride sometime in the last year or so. While I did not find the book when I initially began looking for it, I recently bought the novel and it was a near fine U.S. first edition of this title with a near perfect dust jacket from a bookseller in Seattle, Washington.

Used Books and Books in General

Books add so much to our lives and provide hours of entertainment, education and enlightenment. Whether you are looking to find an inexpensively priced book or a collectible first edition, use the above websites to help you buy any used book and share the above list wtih any avid or novice book collector you might know.

As a side note, fellow book lovers might also be interested to learn more about World Book Day which is celebrated every year on March 1st.  Read TerrieTez's article entitled World Book Day 1st March to learn more about the festivities of this celebratory day and how anyone can help promote reading, benefit young readers, and celebrate the overall enjoyment of books - new or used.

Related articles:

Georgette Heyer Dust Jackets

Why Read Georgette Heyer? Heyer Titles Now on Kindle and On Sale on Amazon

Who is Georgette Heyer? She's Been Outselling Top Authors



Mar 20, 2012 8:23am
I like to collect books, and I do have quite a few (new and old) they help me finding information when I write.
I didn't know about the World Book Day, - thank you for this information!
Mar 20, 2012 12:24pm
Thanks for your comment. I hope this list of websites gave you some new places to look for used and new books.
Mar 27, 2012 3:37am
I learnt so much from this article! It has been really useful. I am often searching for a particular book and sometimes quite obscure ones so the list of websites will be really useful. Thanks for sharing.
Mar 27, 2012 12:02pm
Hi Judy,

I am so glad this article is helpful to you. I just love books and used books and I love being able to share what I do know about finding them with others. Thanks for your comment.
Mar 29, 2012 9:21am
So many used books have closed in the past 5 years. It's sad for those of us with a preference for words on paper and a limited budget or those who love to collect. Thanks for the handy resource. I currently use Alibri.com a lot and feel good about recommending them. My own book will be released from the publisher in April 2012. I wonder how many will actually be printed, how many will go into downloads and how many will be seeking out a used book store in the future?!!
Apr 9, 2012 2:24pm
Thank you so much! This is a great resource!
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