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FINDING AND BUYING BOOKS ONLINE

There are two kinds of books--new and used. In the B.I. days (before Internet), we hunted new books in bookstores and scrounged used books in the deliciously moldy-smelling, sagging shelves of used bookstores. While nothing prevents us from doing that P.I. (post Internet), there are times when it is more convenient, less expensive, or just plain more fun to let our fingers do the walking. Many people, including writers, believe that there are only a few bookstores online. Actually, there are hundreds and, by using search engines to look for used books, the "book mall" broadens to thousands of stores.

Today I embarked on a hunt for two books, one new, one used. The new book is Bob LeVitus's "Mac OS 9 for Dummies"; the used, Robert Gard's "Romance of Wisconsin Place Names." The first is easy to find, the second rather rare.

Because the Dummies series of books is extremely popular, the only issue was price.  Since the book is new (November 1, 1999), there was no use looking for a used copy. Or was there? Just in case, before heading to the price compare book sites, I tried
AuctionRover. Having just signed an exclusive agreement with eBay, AuctionRover is the only site that searches auction sites comprehensively. I had no luck, but my quick peek was well worth the try. Often advanced readers' copies (ARC) of new books can be found, especially on eBay. Next stop, Dealpilot. Comparison prices are given, with shipping and handling options for everything from basic ground shipping to next-day. Prices for the Dummies book ranged from $17.99 with shipping and handling to $48.05 (which was from Amazon Germany with 5-10 days shipping).

Not satisfied, I headed for
www.isbn.nu armed with the book's ISBN number, which I copied from my visit to DealPilot.  What I like best about ISBN is that not only are a book's comparison prices listed, but the site also provides codes for any active coupons or deals offered by the online booksellers. ISBN turned up eight sites, and one included a coupon for $10 off any order of $10 or more. I placed my order and paid a total, with shipping and handling, of $9.94 for the book, a savings of $10.05 over the book's cover price, and the book will be delivered to my door. (HINT: Be sure to include the - (dashes) in the ISBN numbers.) Additional new book search and price compare sites include bookarea, which searches 41 bookstores, and addall.com, which also searches for used books. Many multi-product search engines also include books, the best of which is gomez.com.

Next I was off to locate Gard's elusive title. I started at
Remaindered Bargain Books Online. Nine wonderful used and bargain sites were searched along with nine multi-search engines. No luck. Alibris, a beautiful site, was next. Fifty-eight Gard titles were returned, but not mine. Bibliofind.com is my never-fail used book site. It did not fail me today either, returning two listings for Gard's book. At Bibliofind, literally thousands of used bookstores are searched. When the right title at the right price is located, Bibliofind sends an e-mail to the seller with the buyer's e-mail address. From there the buyer and seller make arrangements for payment and shipping.  Just for fun I visited AddALL again and searched for the Gard title. Amazed, I watched three copies appear, the two from Bibliofind and another from abebooks. AddALL also searches Bibliocity, Gutenberg Holdings, BookCloseOuts and Powell's used books.

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