Tuesday, November 27, 2007

OK, finally some useful information

If you buy books--and the odds are if you are reading this you buy too many--you need to stop shopping online at Amazon or Borders or Barnes & Noble.

Why? Because there is a better deal out there.

Check out Abebooks.com. "ABE" stands for Advanced Book Exchange, not an old bald guy in a dusty store. It is a consortium of several thousand online booksellers and several million titles (old and new) in a consolidated marketplace.

The search engine is powerful, and best of all the whole place is market-driven. You will usually find far more copies available in a range of conditions and prices than you do from Amazon, and Abebooks stands behind its transactions.

Often you can even scoop the bookstores; both Pat Buchanan's and Glenn Beck's new books were available here (sometimes in review copies or paperback advance proofs) several days before they went on sale in bookstores, and at cheaper prices.

You do have to watch postage charges carefully, but that's true everywhere.

Try this for reasonable prices on hard-to-find out-of-print titles as well. You won't go back.

1 comment:

Tom said...

By comparison with my hundreds of overwhelmingly positive experiences with Amazon and the thousands of online retailers who do business via Amazon (including getting a number of rare, hard to find, and out of print books, some for amazing prices like $0.01 (+ $3.49 shipping), so far I have made one purchase from AbeBooks.com and I have somewhat mixed feelings about it.

I bought an advanced engineering calculus textbook which all the companies I was familiar with listed for $140-160 + S&H from Abebooks for $36 + $7.50 shipping.

So why am I not absolutely delighted at getting my book for one fourth of the expected price?

I am, but the ABE bookseller I purchased it from, despite having an address in Iowa, shipped me a re-bound copy from India and this opened the door for our government to make my Abebooks experience miserable.

Despite the package having come from a nation we are on relatively good terms with, and being clearly labeled on the shipping manifest as a textbook (which could have been verified by x-ray or other non-invasive or at least non-destructive means) customs crudely cut the package open, resulting in minor damage to the cover, then poorly taped it back together, resulting in more damage when i opened it and sticky spots from the adhesive.

Then the Post Office decided to treat it as a registered letter and refuse to deliver unless I appeared in person showed ID and signed for it. So I took off from work, went and stood in line for 25 minutes, showed the guy at the counter my Postal Notice slip, he asked for ID so I also showed my Passport. Then he went into the back room for a while. I heard a conversation/argument in which am pretty sure I heard my name mentioned & something about needing to talk to an inspector. Then a woman came out and asked somewhat rudely if I had another form of ID. So I went out to the car, got my Driver's License and showed it to her. She went back into the back room. (Now by this time I had not only wasted almost an hour, I was seriously calculating my chances of getting to the exit all the way on the opposite side of the building in case the SS showed up to disappear me to Guantanamo Bay - they made me feel almost that comfortable about claiming my book.)

A few minutes later, the original guy came out with a package and tossed it across the counter at me w/o a word. This took me somewhat by surprise and i didn't quite catch it, resulting in a nice dent in one corner from hitting the floor. That kind of "service" is why I rent a private mailbox, so I can have as little contact with Postal workers as possible.

None of this is really Abebooks' fault, of course, but I still can't say I'm completely satisfied with that shopping experience.

I'll give them another chance, but I'll definitely be wary...