Buying used books can save you a substantial amount of money, as well as making available books which are no longer being printed. Used books can be found in a variety of places, from thrift shops to internet auctions. Here are some tips on finding and getting the best deal on the book or type of books you are looking for…
Purchasing used books on the internet is the easiest and most convenient way. They can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, eBay, Yahoo Auctions, and other websites. There is a much wider variety of used books on the internet than you can find anywhere else, and it is often the cheapest way to buy used college textbooks. However, there are some drawbacks to purchasing books online.
You cannot carefully inspect them before making a purchase, and you will have to pay for the book to be mailed back if you need to return it. You also have to pay for shipping and handling costs when buying a book, so you are unlikely to find any books for under $3 like you can at some used book stores and yard sales. Shipping costs for most books are fairly low (under $5), because the U.S. Postal Service offers a discounted Media Mail rate for books.
Books sent using the Media Mail service can take up to two weeks to arrive, depending upon how far away you are from the bookseller. The shipping cost is likely to be substantially higher if you pay extra for Priority Mail or FedEx, unless the book is very light. Some lightweight books can be sent inexpensively by using USPS First Class Mail, which is almost as fast as Priority Mail.
Used book stores are the other most common way to find used books. Some bookstores of this type have been known to sell books for as little as $1, and occasionally they will have a box of less desirable books which can be taken for free. If you have books you no longer need, some bookstores will let you exchange them for credit which can be used to purchase different books from them. Before buying a book at a used book store (or a garage sale), be sure to check it for severe page yellowing, heavy underlining, strong odors, and other potential defects.
College textbooks can occasionally be found at used bookstores; they are usually too old for using in classes, but can still be used for informational purposes. Most college bookstores have used textbooks available, the prices may or may not be competitive with used books on eBay or the Barnes & Noble website.
Other locations where you might find used books include yard sales, thrift shops, general used merchandise stores, and flea markets. Thrift stores usually have a few shelves of books, and are a good place to find old books on computers. Yard and garage sales most commonly have romance novels for sale. The condition of books at garage sales and flea markets should be thoroughly examined, as it usually isn’t possible to return them for a refund. Stores which sell used furniture, electronics, tools, and other items of that type often have used books as well.
Overall, used bookstores and thrift shops provide the greatest potential for finding very inexpensive books, while internet booksellers are more likely to have a specific book you are looking for.