Find books online and compare prices between stores
Brick-and-mortar used bookstores are quickly going the way of the video rental shop, the cassette tape, the rotary phone. While a few iconic used booksellers and some mom-and-pop holdouts are sure to survive in supportive communities, an increasingly digital world offers many more convenient options for used book searches. In addition to greater accessibility to rare and antique books, online used book sellers often offer cheaper prices, as well as helpful user comments and reviews to help you decide if a particular title is right for you. Of course, while the prices may be lower online than in most physical bookstores, you have to consider shipping costs as well in the total purchase price. Below you’ll find an overview of some of the major used book sellers that offer reasonable shipping costs within the United States.
One of the best online sources for rare or out of print books, Abebooks is a worldwide market that helps booksellers sling a lot of print within the US borders. Unlike many other used book sites, such as Amazon (which actually acquired Abebooks back in 2008), booksellers on this site must pay a monthly subscription ranging from $25-$300 depending on the volume of titles they’re listing. This helps you, as a consumer, have greater peace of mind that the sellers are serious about their business and their listings about the physical condition of the book are more accurate. Abebooks also offers new books, and other forms of literature and art.
Also focusing on direct seller-to-buyer is albris.com, which also specializes in rare books. One advantage of this site over others is that booksellers can list their books on the retail website along with a separate library services site and also various business partners such as Books-A-Million, Chapters Indigo, and Barnes & Noble. There is a starting fee for booksellers on this site that varies depending on what exactly is being sold.
The most well-known fixed-price online marketplace is also one of the best and cheapest places to find used books. While their selection of rare or out of circulation titles may not be as extensive as some competitors, for the average title the site is a great resource for paperback, hardcovers or even Kindle formats. And if you need some extra cash and want to sell your books, there are no subscription fees involved.
One of last remaining physical bookstore juggernauts may have avoided the fate of Borders both through its Nook e-reader and also thanks to a robust used book online presence. Barnes & Noble may be the largest bookseller in the United States, but they aren’t always the first source that comes to mind for used books. Of course, their website focuses on newer titles to a large degree, but you can find used books for reasonable prices as well.
Biblio is the third largest used bookseller within the United States. Originally, it was a price comparison website but made the transition to a marketplace in 2003. Biblio stands out from competitors by forbidding books from selling for a penny (plus shipping) as they routinely do on sites like Amazon. The site also focuses on simplifying the selling and purchasing process by implementing software that reduces the number of clicks necessary to do both.
Run by eBay, Half.com is commission-based like Amazon and does not charge subscription fees to booksellers. Half.com, much like eBay, does not have any physical inventory of its own, and is simply a service that allows booksellers to list their available titles and deal with buyers directly. The site also is typically one of the best places to find the cheapest titles, offering costumer feedback features to ensure that sellers remain responsible.
The main physical location of Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon is several stories tall and takes up an entire city block. It’s heaven for a used book lover. But the store also maintains its iconic status by offering online sales. The prices may not rival the thriftiness of using other online used book sites, but you’re guaranteed quality since they have a rather strict book-buying policy the prevents books in poor condition from entering the rotation. Also, orders over $50 come with free shipping!