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Spending just pennies on books

In our troubled economic times, the compulsion to shop can be dangerous. Even when it comes to books. What if you happened into the Taschen store and found yourself drawn to the mega-gorgeous Muhammad Ali book "GOAT"? What if you were unable to resist drawing out your credit card? You'd leave with a beautiful book -- and a $4,500 dent in your account.

But if we must shop, shop we must. We must simply find ways to rein ourselves in.

A completely informal survey of books on EBay that are selling for less than $1 turns up books by a broad array of authors: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Carl Sagan, Edwidge Danticat, Jack London, Mary Higgins Clark, Flannery O'Connor, Michael Eisner, Elizabeth Gilbert and Chuck Palahniuk. Something there for almost everyone.

I also found vintage Disney children's books and plenty of cookbooks, both old and new.

And you can get ebooks for pennies: by Mark Twain, Agatha Christie, Henry James, Daniel Defoe. There are electronic copies of the Bible for sale for less than a buck. And Sudoku books. And lots of copies of "Twilight," which I hope are all legitimate.

Of course, some of these books will have additional shipping costs; some will probably be bid up higher than their current price.

And you may want to filter your search so you don't see the many how-to-make-money-on-EBay and how-to-date-online ebooks. If you don't, the time you'll spend sorting and sifting your cheap EBay prospects may be worth something -- at least you haven't been overspending anywhere else.

But shopping for books still isn't the cheapest option. For that, there's your local library.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo by Caitlinatorvia Flickr

Comments () | Archives (5)

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When you're thinking about buying books, consider looking for the books locally - http://www.indiebound.org - allows you to find independent booksellers closest to you. That way, in these tough economic times, you can know that more of your dollar is being reinvested in your community.
Physical books for under a dollar aren't really helping anyone and e-books at that price vary greatly in quality - the safest bet that still helps your community at that point is to visit your library or local used bookstore.

Many used books on Amazon are under a dollar (often just 1 penny) plus shipping, often $2.99 or $3.99. Many great deals to be found.

abebooks.com and others also offer great deals on used books and you don't have to worry about problems with the ebay system.

The Los Angeles Memorial Library (on Olympic at Mullen/1 block east of Rimpau) has a book sale every Saturday from 10 am to noon. ALL books(hardcover & softcover), magazines, VHS tapes, & DVD's are 10 cents!!

Yes, with many public domain books available across the web, it is easy to find cheap or free books. There are over 28,000 free books in the Project Gutenberg Online Book Catalog.

There are plenty of free e-books out there. Anything that's old enough that its copyright is expired is now in the public domain, like Jane Austen novels, but writers like Cory Doctorow and other "copyleft" types also give their work away for free. Spending money on e-books is silly.


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