Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Buying secondhand books online

I've noticed that Amazon is all out of the book Sepharad by Antonio Molina for February 6th. This is a gorgeous book. This is a bit of miserable winter which means books are a very cosy solution. I use Amazon links because they are usually in stock and offer a baseline. But then, I thought, this is a Quaker thing. Maybe we should talk about alternatives here so I offer you the Amazon baseline and then you can trot off and find yourself a fabulous fairtrade-type deal. So I shall.

Anyway, I would suggest, if you feel like staying at home and reading, Sepharad might be a book to buy for these long winter nights (whether or not you intend to come to the book group). Ordering online might be especailly attractive at the moment. But, you don't have to buy new or from Amazon if you order online.

You can buy books secondhand online very easily. One of the most widely known and probably easiest to order with is AbeBooks. Click here to go to their website. You can also buy secondhand with Amazon and Alibris etc. I have a list at the end of this post. You can choose to buy from the UK (and you will be supporting many secondhand shops in this way by ordering in this way).

I've done a search for you already on Sepharad and have found a wide range of secondhand copies available from 64p. Click here (although the search may no longer be valid when you click).

However, some things to be aware of when buying from a site like AbeBooks etc. secondhand:
-the American sellers are often the cheapest but their books usually take 2-3 weeks to arrive. Order the books for March or otherwise now and this will be fine but not if you want to join us on February 6th.
-you can order your search results by UK sellers, price, bookseller rating (how reliable buyers have found the seller to be, not everyone is equally reliable)
-AbeBooks or Amazon are acting as online middlemen for merchants all over the world, pay some attention to the ratings other people have given the bookseller you choose to buy from (with Amazon, make sure they have at least 85% satisfaction, over 90% is better and with AbeBooks go for 5 stars when possible but I would be very wary of buying from someone with less than 4 stars).

So, where can you buy books online and secondhand? Here's a list:

Does anyone else have any suggestions? Where do you buy your books? Which are your favourite stores here in Sheffield? Do you have favourite sellers? Names and people that are particularly helpful? Let's make a list to - in effect - reward people for their good service and local knowledge. I personally love bookstores, but am not a huge fan of Waterstone's. So, if I'm going to do a big chain, I prefer Amazon.

I know that we already have established links with "Rhyme and Reason" as they come regularly after Meetings with wonderful displays to tempt us, don't they? They are on the Hunter's Bar roundabout near Endcliffe Park.

Every dealing I have had with them has been brilliant (I've seen them at University events and dropped by their store too): they are knowledgeable and funny and interesting. Everything you'd hope for in a bookstore and everytime I've been in there I've come away with books I never otherwise would have bought but have been so glad I did...but they are much too far away from my house for me to buy regularly and for the amount I need >:-). Okay, I've convinced myself to buy more from them.

I like the "Rare and Racy" secondhand bookstore on Division Street too. An amusing and eclectic books (with a suprisingly fabulous graphic book selection). Their music area is great too. I don't go there enough. If they like some of the books you already have, you might even be able trade. This is dark and dusty - the polar opposite to "Rhyme and Reason" - but there is always great music blaring round corners and it feels like an adventure. Perfect for losing an hour on a lazy afternoon or chortling over bizarre finds with a friend.

Personally, always do a quick squizz through the Oxfam bookstore on West Street every once in awhile. It's good for travel books and holiday reads in my opinion. Some decent science fiction sometimes too.

Any other comments on these or anyone else you would recommend? There is a bookstore that I've only been to once (because Hunter's Bar area is not so close to my house on Saturday mornings), but it was on Ecceshall Road near the Somerfield/Endcliffe Park going towards Greystones. They had some randomly interesting photos/art and a surprisingly good literary selection. Anyone know the name of it?

Anyway, happy local and online book buying!


Anonymous said...

I just bought a book through from the seller 'Bookdonors', who are a social enterprise trading in used books to help people and charities. They're based in the Scottish Borders and their website is

I'm going to use them in future, not least because the copy I received used to be Angus Calder's (eminent literary/history academic) whose lectures I attended at Edinburgh Uni way back. (He had signed it).

The best second-hand bookshop in the north is Barter Books, housed in the old railway station at Alnwick, complete with open fires, model railway around the ceiling space, and very nice bistro cafe. And a mile long beach down the road.

Friend Derek said...

Plug, Plug - I have a really good, locally based second hand book stall and can be seen selling my books at most community events around the City. To find out where, please go to: