Whether you are looking for a copy of a beloved childhood favorite, an out of print cookbook, or a best seller with a low price tag, a great place to shop is a used bookstore. Most of these stores offer a wide variety of books in various genres, price ranges, and conditions. Some also carry antique or collectible books. Most towns have at least one of these stores filled with dusty books and magazines. If yours does not, the Internet is an excellent alternative shopping venue.
The market value of a book is often set by the average resale value of the title. The owner of a used bookstore is usually a member of a large bookseller group such as Alibris, Abe Books, or an Amazon reseller. Independent online booksellers may also belong to organizations such as the Independent Online Booksellers Organization. Members of these reseller organizations have access to important information such as the average sale price, the highest price paid for a book, and how to adjust price according to book condition.
Shop Conveniently Online
By far the easiest way to find used books is to search for them on the Internet, but read the descriptions carefully when shopping online so that you are not disappointed when your book arrives in the mail.
Abebook's search engine allows you to search for books by title, date, author, and publisher as well as by first edition and other criteria. It claims to be the worlds "largest online marketplace for books" and has a user-friendly site. Offerings include new, used or out-of-print books, and textbooks.
Alibris carries all kinds of books and media including out of print items.
The inventory at Powell's Books consists of used books in 60 subject areas ranging from popular titles to out-of-print classics. The company has six retail stores in the area of Portland, Oregon, and every title offered at their retail locations is available online. In addition, Powell's purchases used books online, sends email updates of books that are highly sought after, and offers newsletters.
Powell's Bookstore Chicago
Powell's Bookstore in Chicago is in no way related to the Powell's books in Oregon. There are two Powell's in Chicago and the stores primarily specialize in academic and scholarly tomes, including a good collection on medieval studies and classics. Shop in the store or online at your convenience.
Better World Books
Better World Books has more than eight million used and new titles available in 36 popular categories. The company donates a portion of each book sale to fund literacy initiatives worldwide. Worldwide free shipping on standard delivery times is always available.
Curio Corner Books
Although Curio Corner Books has books in dozens of categories, their specialty covers several areas including:
- Texas History
- Children's books including pop-ups, series & illustrated
- Ephemera on those subjects
Half Price Books
Half Price Books is one, if not the only, chain store that is found in many parts of the United States. They carry used and antique books, magazines, and video games on all subjects. The store also buys old books for either cash or store credit.
Iliad Books is located in Los Angeles, California and carries over 100,000 used books.They specialize in books on literature and the arts but also carry items on many other subjects.
With more than 30,000 titles in over 30 categories, Rereadables offers customers books priced as low as fifty cents each. The company also takes special requests for specific books. Rereadables provides a search service for hard to find, out of print, and used books. If they do not have the book you are searching for in their online inventory, they will search their offline inventory and additional bookstores.
The Strand is located in New York City and has been in business since 1927. It boasts over 18 miles of new and used books. You can shop in the store or from the comfort of your computer keyboard.
Cornerstone Used Books
Cornerstone Used Books carries more than 50,000 titles in over 100 categories of used and new books in their online inventory. Their online inventory does not include the books that they have in their retail location in Villa Park, Illinois. The company also sells out of print and hard to find books.
If you are new to purchasing used books, especially if they are purchased online, watch for a few things. If you plan on reselling the book, purchase the best copy you can find. Many used book sellers will buy back a book if it is still in good condition. Some other tips to observe are:
- Don't write in a book as it significantly decreases the value of a book.
- Use bookmarks and don't fold down page corners; this also decreases the value.
- Make sure the spines are intact, the pages are tight, and there are no stains or tears.
- Either remove the dust jacket or cover it with a book jacket cover while you read hardcover books. This protects fragile dust jackets from tearing and helps maintain their market value.
Used bookstores allow you to share your favorite childhood books with your children, get information you might not otherwise be able to find, and enjoy a piece of history, often at a low price. Now that so many used bookstores also offer online shopping, buying from them is much more convenient.